My girlfriend and I went to a carnival last night. It’s one of those ones that’s super fun when you’re about seven and super sketch when you’re older. All the rides fold back into being trucks at the end of the week and stuff. We’re both too poor for overpriced carnivals anyway, so we just walked around and looked at the rides and reminisced about childhood and smelled the delicious bad-for-you food.
But we didn’t hold hands.
While we were there I ran into a coworker, one of my managers, and a kid I knew from high school theatre. And then when we went to the grocery store across the street to go buy ice cream later, we found more people we knew in high school and another coworker of mine.
None of them would have cared, but what if it had been someone who did care? We couldn’t take that risk.
The thing that sucks about being a young gay couple is that you always have to be on your guard. We’re lucky, because our friends are very accepting. When we’re in the safe zones of our own homes (except mine), we’re free to be normal. Nobody gives us a second thought anymore.
But out in the world we always have to be careful. Sometimes we act like a couple when we go to the grocery store, but only if we’re going at midnight when the store is deserted. If we go at prime shopping time, we’re suddenly just best friends out picking up some apples. Because you have to be careful.
At first it was, “We have to be careful, what if we see someone who might tell my parents?” But there’s really more to it than that. In some places, it’s legitimately not safe to be gay. We’re fortunate that we live in a fairly accepting community. It’s pretty conservative, but I was never uncomfortable with the idea of admitting to my fellow students that I was into girls. (Except I was afraid it would get back to my parents so I never was openly out in high school.)
But somebody had to pave the way. Somebody had to take the dive and decide to stop caring whether or not it was safe, had to decide to stop caring about being careful, and just go for it. Somebody had to stand up. I have so much respect for the trail blazers. Because it’s probably not that they don’t care what other people think, it’s not that they’re not afraid, it’s that they want it to be easier and better for other gay kids in the future.
It’s because of brave people that we have even what we do so far.
Will I be brave? When I’m finally out to my parents and I no longer have the idea of them finding out to hide behind, will I be brave? Will I stand up to fear of ridicule and scorn? Will I be a trailblazer? Will I make the path easier for those who follow behind me?
I want my answer to be yes. I’m challenging myself today to make my answer yes. I will stand up and I will be brave. I will swallow my fears of being judged by those around me and I will help to make seeing a lesbian couple in the supermarket and at the carnival a normal thing. And someday people won’t have to be brave anymore.
Someday, two girls who are young and in love will walk through a cheesy carnival on a summer night. And they’ll hold hands.
If you liked this post, I would love it if you took the time to check out my personal blog, which you can find at http://alifeheldinparts.blogspot.com, which deals with my personal journey with the Mormons parts of me and the gay parts of me.