Angry. That's all I can say right now. I'm angry. The world seems to be saying "if they kill you, we'll prosecute them, but you still can't live like the rest of us."
I'm angry because I could be the next one to end up dead simply because I love someone who happens to have a body like mine.
I don't fear death, but I do fear dying like that. I fear a brutal retaliation simply because of who I love. I'm angry. I'm angry because he could have been me. He could have been so many people I know.
-BoiseBlue's journal entry, 10/13/1998
I was sitting on my grandmother's back porch when I wrote those lines. Three pages of lines, most of which were incoherent and bordering on hysterical. But a young gay man had just been brutally killed and I was afraid.*
I was nineteen years old. Two of my closest friends and my sister knew I was gay, but no one else.
I was preparing to come out the month before, but my plans were derailed at precisely the same moment that "Matthew Shepard" became a household name. I was scared. The three people who knew the truth about me were scared; I could see it in their eyes. It was not safe out there for me. I could be next.
I did what I always did in moments of crisis. I packed a bag and drove two-hundred and fifty miles east, knowing that when I knocked on my grandmother's door I would be safe and sound, surrounded by scents that had brought me comfort from the moment I was born and sounds so familiar they were like my own beating heart.
I just needed to go home. I was scared and I needed my grandmother.
On this particular night, we had been watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy ("my, BoiseBlue, you and I need to get on there as a team and really kick some butt!" Grandma would say) and then the news came on.
"More on Matthew Shepard, coming up at seven o'clock."
I went out back for a cigarette. I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to hear it. I just wanted to be okay. I wanted to go back in time and stop this. I wanted to disappear from the world and spare everyone around me the devastation that I would certainly bring upon the announcement of my "otherness."
I wrote and I wrote, and I smoked and I smoked, and I stared out into the darkness of the night. This just couldn't be happening.
When I went back inside, my grandma was still sitting in front of the T.V, tears streaming down her face. "I just can't believe what they did to that boy" she choked out. "No one deserves to-"
She couldn't finish.
And I couldn't look at her.
We spent the next hour in silence, watching the news and crying. When Fred Phelps was shown, my grandmother said what we all know to be true:
There is a special place in hell for that rotten son of a bitch.
I left my grandmother's house feeling better (as only a grandmother can revive one's spirit), but realizing that I could not come out anytime soon. I thought about it a lot on the long drive home.
I decided I would just live a lonely life and forget ever knowing love. If those three people who knew the truth ever brought it up, I would change the subject or tell them I was just kidding. I just wanted to experiment a little but now that I've been there and done that, I'm sure I'll find the right man someday.
Like most queers, I started drinking. A lot.
The problem was this: I would drink to kill that feeling of loneliness and fear, but once I started drinking I lost all inhibitions. It was really hard to tell my sister "ha, ha! I was just kidding, I'm not gay!" when we were at a party and she walked in to a room to find me making out with another girl.
And the "I was sooo drunk last night, I don't remember a thing" line got old really fast.
But what this tactic (strategy?) did was not just wear me down, it made everyone else around me nervous. I was getting out of control. I was drinking way too much. I was reckless and apathetic and anyone with any intuition could see that I was not okay with myself. I was not okay, at all.
One night my sister and I went to a bar and, to our absolute horror, my mom showed up at the same bar. Everything was okay for a while. We introduced my mom to our friends and, as Joe Biden would say, God love her, she did her best to not embarrass us.
But then soon enough we were all drunk. The song "Closing Time" came over the speakers and my mom looked at me, into my eyes, and said "So, when the night is winding down and everyone here is looking for someone to go home with, who is that you see? Who is it that you're looking for? What do they look like?"
I replied "There's this song by NOFX called 'Dig.' My favorite line is 'Henry Ford tradition lies on idle minds with the emergency brake on too long.'"
She looked at me and forced a grin, and I could see that she knew what my answer would have been had I actually answered it. So I went outside and sat on the cab of my friend's truck and stared out into the night.
Things got much worse before they got better. Most queers will have a horror story to tell you about the first love they had, or the first time they fell for someone who didn't want to deal with their messy coming out, so they left.
I don't blame them; this is the ugly side of being in the gay community. At some point, every person in it has to come out, and it's not pretty when you're the the person in a relationship with someone who has yet to do so.
So I'll just make a really long story short. My mom called me one night after one of my shenanigans had spread like wildfire through my job and back to her.
"We need to talk," she said.
"I think you know."
I laughed. "Your problems with me could fill a book, mom. Why don't you just tell me what we're going to be talking about?"
And then, a sigh.
There's a car that drives by my window frequently. I've never seen it but I know it's the same one because the engine sounds like it's about to explode and kill the driver.
I imagine the driver, like me, once had dreams, and in those dreams there were shiny cars and a house that wasn't in a neighborhood like this.
The engine revs and falls, revs and falls, and all I can think is My god, what am I doing to myself?
I guess it means that it's time now. It's always been time. My anxiety is through the roof.
The cars keep going by. I can't see them, but I can hear them. All those drivers probably had dreams. Those dreams probably didn't include a street like this.
BoiseBlue's journal. 11-20-1998
"Okay. What is it that you want to talk about?"
"I think you know."
"No, I really don't. Everything I do pisses you off, so if you could be specific-"
ARE YOU GAY???
If you want to know the details of what the carpet in front of me looked like, at that precise moment, I can give you precise detail.
My mother, eyebrows raised.. "What?"
"Mom, I don't know, I'm just... God, why do you have to do this to me?"
ARE YOU GAY?
"I guess if you're asking me who I am going to fall in love with, at some point in time, should I ever have that luxury, than yes. I guess so. But if you're asking me if-"
"No. I have my answer. I already know. I've always known."
"So, what? Are you going to just throw me out and pretend this never happened or are-"
"Look, I think you are fucked up, sick, perverted and wrong..."
[Let that sit in your head for a minute, because that's how long it took for her to spit out what followed.......]
"but you're my daughter. And I love you. And I guess if you're okay with being like, like... like this....
I guess if you're okay with it, so am I. I just don't think you're okay with it."
I wish I could say that was the end of it, but it's not. I later became suicidal. I had been a victim of hate crimes. I had seen the brutality that I had so feared. No, it wasn't as bad as Matt Shephard had seen (obviously, or I wouldn't be typing this), but it was severe enough for me to believe that taking my own life would be less painful than what I had ahead of me.
I entered in to terrible relationships out of the hope that having a girlfriend would save me.
I could write a whole diary series on how terrible my life became after coming out, but, although the stories I would tell you would be true, they would not paint the picture that needs to be painted.
That picture is this:
Last night I fell asleep to a beautiful woman. There are nights that my anxiety keeps me from sleeping at all, but if I just lay in bed and hold on to her it makes everything okay.
There are times that I feel less than human. I feel like a failure. I feel like I would so my whole family justice by just disappearing.
But that is the mind of the 19 year old girl who was afraid.
There is no difference now between Aunt BoiseBlue and Aunt BoiseBlue's girlfriend. We are all family.
The point is this:
To all you teenage queers out there who feel your only choice is the closet, consider this:
It takes about one quarter of the time for your family and friends to get used to you as it takes for you to get used to yourself.
There will be days that crush your spirit. There will be days that burn your soul.
But if you can push through it and understand that most of the world is on your side, it will pay off.
[After a long day] we made love and it was wonderful. Long, passionate, intimate. Afterwards we laid in bed kissing, joking, laughing, and then I sang her a song.
It was everything I needed. It was everyting I have been craving.
Work, on the other hand, has been BLAH.
BoiseBlue's journal 2-06-07
National Coming Out day is not about my story. It is not about all of the stories that you've heard today. National Coming Out day is for all those kids out there- and quite a few adults, to be sure- who feel that coming out would end there world as they know it.
Well, I have to say that your life will never be the same once you take that step.
It is scary.
It is overwhelming.
It is an absolute nightmare.
But do you know what happens once you've taken that step?
You get to live your life the way you were meant to live your life.
This is part of my coming out story. It is dedicated to all of those individuals out there who feel hopeless and scared.
I have to tell you: It gets better.
It gets much better.
You just have to be yourself. One day, this will all seem so silly and unnecessary.
But, above all else:
YOU WILL BE OKAY.
*I know there are many Americans, including many posters here on dkos, that don't believe there is a need for hate crime legislation. I know you think that a brutal crime is a crime is a crime is a crime.
But there is a reason that Osama bin Laden isn't just a murderer, he is a terrorist.
Hate crimes are far different than normal crimes because they serve to intimdate and terrorize a larger group.
When Matthew Shepard died, it sent a very clear signal to the entire LGBT commumity that any single one of us could be next.
It was an act of terrorism.
If you don't believe that bin Laden is a terrorist, that he is just a run of the mill murderer, than your argument holds up.