Excerpt from my Sparkly Blue Unicorn Diary, circa 1992;
“…..The Man was crying, bc the Marines said ‘CLINTON WILL PAY AND ALL YOU FAGGOTS WILL DIE…’ and then beat him up. So, I guess it’s ok for Gays to be in the military, as long as they all get killed”- Angela Foster, Age 12
I still played with my Doll House when I was 12. I didn’t wear make up, had never been kissed and was an avid reader of “The Babysitters Club” series.
I was in 7th grade in a small town across the bridge from Baton Rouge. A town that was still socially segregated in the 90s, in a Parish that African Americans rarely crossed the bridge into after dark, Due to it’s still very active KKK .
My entire world was white, straight and Christian. I had never met or even seen a gay person, that I could recall. The only information I had about the LGBT community was from church, school, and my peers; This was before the Internet.
My dad, an Evangelical Christian pastor, equipped with a Doctorate in Psychology, referred me to his heavy, dust laden DSMs 1-3 When I asked him if being Gay was a mental illness. It was no doubt a sin, this I knew. I had been taught as much in Sunday school and sermons since birth. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, editions 1-3 told me that homosexuality was somewhere between a mental illness that sufferers could not help & a disorder that sufferers did not want.
By high school I understood Gay=Bad.
I used gay slurs, rallied against gay marriage, mocked the lgbtq community and said things like “God made Adam and Eve, Not Adam and STEVE!”
When I was 18 I moved out of my parents home to the big city of Dallas. I learned that being a grown up meant evolving. It took many years, many gay boyfriends, a husband I would learn was bi-sexual in the most hurtful of ways, many nights examining my own desires, before I chose to give the topic of homosexuality another look. By then the DSM had removed homosexuality as a pathology or mental illness. I had known and become friends with many ppl in the LGBTQ community who showed infinite patience for my ignorance & patiently educated me on reality. Away from the pressures of religion and a southern culture saturated in bigotry, I was receptive and open to learning all I could. For I had questions and longings that I had buried deep down from a young age.
As I tried to live and learn with an open mind and heart, I continued to stumble and fall, to rise and tumble again down rabbit hole after rabbit hole. I felt the burden of my childhood conditioning weighing on me in the form of addiction; Pulling me, dragging me to the same spiraling depths of rock bottom over and over. I had not been able to shake it with 12 step programs or 6 stints in rehab, or any miracle cure. Why did I hate myself so much? Why was I so set on destroying myself? Why did I keep going to battle against MYSELF? Why did I think I was deserving only of a life spent FIGHTING for peace & ending in death?
As I sat on my 34th birthday wondering how I ONCE AGAIN had stumbled & fallen into self loathing, I recalled the words from my impressionable little 12 yr old mind on the pages of my blue, sparkly Unicorn Diary “….Gays can fight, as long as they die”. Suddenly so much made sense; What I knew by age 13 , had barely the courage to drunkenly utter to my best friend at 19, Had been fighting since childhood, what I didn’t have the courage to truly embrace until that day; I am gay.
Since that self revelation my life has changed in hundreds of ways. I am a sober, happy, productive, Queer mother, with a partner who loves me.
….And hopefully no one will hold against me, my ignorant words of decades past, as we can all recognize that softening hearts, opening minds and challenging beliefs is EXACTLY what we are fighting for now.