I have been following on Twitter the talk around a UK doc called "Is it OK to be gay in the UK?" and sadly it is yet unavailable in North America or at least I am not tech savvy enough to find a clean copy. I look forward to watching this but have watched other similar shows. There is a US show called "Gaycation" where Ellen Page goes to countries where gay rights are tenuous at best and meets people living there and somehow surviving (to say thriving might be a stretch).
I don't have a magic wand or miracle solutions to violence taken against gay, lesbian or trans folks. I don't like the idea of outing people, but I do think for those who can, who feel safe, coming out diminishes the fears of at least the people in their worlds, in their circles. These people then, can put a name to what was once a scary concept for them. I know that this isn't always possible, but for me it helped take the mystery away and made smaller at least the elephant in the room so to speak.
Every person I told - friends first, sister second, father third etc....said they already knew. My sister promptly told her husband "Guess what Lisa told me?" His response; "She's gay?" Huh. My dad got a strange look on his face and his wife said "I knew it. I told your dad!" Even an aunt I told said she knew and was just waiting for me to tell her. Huh. I was fearful of telling people. Fearful of losing them, of facing alienation. But I was also fearful of living a lie forever, of hiding. Lies have sneaky ways of growing bigger and taking over.
I was in my 30's when I came out, but my life until that revelation, that "oh so that is why..." was tumultuous to say the least. Coming out later means I don't have bullying stories but I know these exist. I face "straightness" all the time and battle as to what to do when people make assumptions about my orientation. On a recent holiday a lady intimated that there are men in the world who would pay to holiday with a woman such as myself. I looked at her quizzically and had a moment: "Do I tell this woman, who I will never see again, that I am gay and not now or never will need to PAY or be PAID to vacation with a man?" In the end I did not. Is this cowardice? I struggle with this.
I have always maintained that it is not my job, place, responsibility to change people's opinions, ideas, beliefs. Even in my own family we don't talk about my partner or lack of. However, I am beginning to feel differently. People need a safe face so they can see there is no need for fear.
There is no monster here. I can be that safe place.