A couple of weeks ago I had an idea for a blog post titled “How to Be More Positive Even When Everything Seems Terrible.” It was going to be kind of a fluffy post with ideas on how to let go of negativity and let positivity rule. Let’s just say I never got around to writing it. Well, it’s more like I never got around to writing the original, planned version of it.
This “How to Be More Positive” post was scheduled to come out June 15th. Three days after the hate crime that killed 50 people in Orlando. After hearing about what happened, I didn’t feel right writing a fluffy post about staying positive when so many people were and still are hurting.So I tried to write another post. One that was still about being positive but was a little less fluffy and a little more personal. But that didn’t work either. I knew I had words that I needed to say but I couldn’t put them together in the right order. I couldn’t find the right thing to say. I wanted it to be perfect, I wanted to do right by the LGBTQ community because I consider myself a part of the LGBTQ community.
Now, that may not seem like a big deal to some people but for me just typing those words out is a huge deal. Other than with my online friends, I’ve never been open about my queerness. I don’t talk about it to anyone offline for a number of reasons. I’m not ashamed; I am afraid.
I am afraid because I don’t know how the people in my life would react. I live in Oklahoma, often referred to the heart of The Bible Belt, one of the most conservative states in the US. Even with some of my more progressive acquaintances have been known to say homophobic things. It’s never anything as hateful or obvious as someone coming out and saying “I hate gay people” but instead little statements that most people wouldn’t think twice about. Those little things chip have been chipping away at me for years and it’s been a heavy burden to bear.
I am afraid because the label I most closely identify with (or that most people are familiar with) is bisexual. All my life, whether it’s close friends or tv shows & movies I have heard people say bisexuality isn’t real. That’s it’s just a phase or that bisexuals just need to pick a side. It’s hard to feel valued as a person when your very existence is denied. I’ve been afraid to even seek out a same-sex relationship because I’ve seen this type of internalized homophobia occur within the LGBTQ community. It’s hard to find acceptance when you don’t feel like you are a part of any community. It’s isolating and lonely.
And now, I am afraid because it could have been me in Orlando. Living in a state that hates anyone who is different it very easily could have been me at one of the LGBTQ clubs that I have frequented. It could have been me, it could have been any one of my LGBTQ friends, it could have been any one of my friends who just happened to be at that club that night.
It could have been anyone. It could have been anywhere.
So why am I writing this post now? Wouldn’t I be less inclined to share this part of me because of all that fear? Well, it turns out I’m tired of hiding behind my fear. I am tired of seeing so much hate in the world. I am tired of waking up and hearing “my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” I am so tired. I can’t magically rid the world of homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, racism, sexism, or any other type of hate, but I can stand strong and tell the world I’m over it. I can stand with the LGBTQ community and say enough is enough.
Love is Love.
I can use my love to overpower hate. It’s no longer ok to sit silently and watch our society tear itself apart and say “that’s just how it is” because that’s not how it should be. No one should walk down the street and fear their life will be taken from them just because of who they are.
No one should be afraid to live. No one should be afraid to love.
So what can we do? It’s easy enough to just say the words but acting on them is harder. For me, it’s starting with little things. Calling people out when they say things that seem harmless but for anyone who is like me, can be hurtful. Showing compassion instead of jumping to judgement and hate. Tearing apart harmful stereotypes.
I can also use what I do as an artist to help the community. I'm working on a collection of “Love is Love” paintings inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sonnet at the Tony’s. The first of which is already available. 50% of the proceeds from each painting in the collection will be donated to charities that support the LGBTQ community.
Hopefully, with each day, with a little more love, we can heal the pain of our past and build a better future and show the world that love is love.
Thank you for going on this journey with me.
I love you.
We chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they’re finished songs and start to play
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers
We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story
Now fill the world with music, love and pride.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda