Let's go positive for a few minutes. It's Pride month, and we have had enough bad news.
I know that the under-35’s reading this column do not recall what the “bad old days” really looked like. I barely remember the just post-Stonewall days myself, but the 1980’s and the AIDS epidemic have been seared into my brain never to be forgotten.
Gay ghettos and designated districts were real. People got arrested, beaten and murdered for being LGBTQI in the wrong place and time. They still do, but trust me...it’s a helluva lot better these days. It was almost impossible to get a professional job in this part of the country without living a lie everyday. Women and men kept photos of fake opposite-sex spouses and non-existent children on their desks to draw suspicion away from who their real soulmates were. Lesbigay life was much harder for our sisters and brothers on the far side of the Kinsey scale. Bisexuals and transpeople endured suspicion and animosity from both straight and gay alike.
Something happened not too long ago though. The kids got bold in the schools and stopped hiding their true sexuality. Girls who were born boys and boys who were born girls began to seriously question why they had to keep that damn costume on. Younger bisexuals began to understand that their dual-nature was really a blessing. Older bisexuals began coming to terms with the fact that they could never run away from it, no matter how hard they tried.
Most importantly: educated heterosexual folks of both genders began to figure out that we were not evil or something to be scared of—we were just us—and they were welcome to be our friends and help celebrate our culture and our lives.
Walls came down. People on both sides of the line stopped being afraid. The bisexuals began coming back and those of us who stuck it out from the beginning got the last laugh. Many of us finally got married, but we always knew we were married in our own way. We didn't need a court or government to tell us that. Quite frankly, we had won.
And then the bigots declared war. They threw everything into the defeat of our political allies, and they now take aim at our freedoms and our souls. We and everything we stand for are just that scary and threatening to them. We must be defeated and scattered. For we are the main enemy...and our community must no longer be allowed to exist.
The victory they are looking for is not going to happen. We are now far too strong for anyone to crush, no matter who is in government or how many bigots pray for our demise. If we were all to succumb to a mysterious drug in the water supply that makes us want to go straight and be upwardly mobile in Williamson County, our culture still lives, awaiting the next generation of kids who seem strangely attracted drag, disco and their best friends. The “gay cooties” are real, highly infectious, and without cure.
We now embark upon a “post-mainstream” culture that is just getting started. Our recent victories shine a light upon courageous heterosexual and cisgender allies who have always had our backs. It also gave others the courage to become family, many who never in their wildest dreams thought they would actually be here. But love won...and they are willing to take a chance on happiness. The Tribe will be even stronger by their willingness to identify with our community, openly accepting the blessings, burdens and battles of our mutual inheritance with new determination and conviction.
The political obituaries being written by our adversaries are wishful thinking at best, even at the state and local level. We are no longer the cowed and easily abused minority of earlier generations.
Our friends in the African-American community have taught us more than a few lessons on how to stand up to the same breed of bully that continues to spread hate in new and equally dangerous ways. We now do the same for ourselves...and for others. For we are progressives by nature and necessity. We know what it is like to be just a tad different and the stranger amongst us will always find protection in our community. We do not care who you love or where you came from; if you are a kind soul who would do the same for anyone else, then you are one of us.
We all know now what is on the line and are no longer afraid. There is no going back for any of us. Our current struggle is a reminder of how far we have come, so please take courage in your heritage and do your bit, even if that just means being yourself.
For we are The Tribe...a loving people who share a special blessing. It's our time now.
Julie Chase is the pen name for a local 40-something trans woman. A graduate of The University of the South at Sewanee, she loves butterflies, strong women and the Austrian School of Economics. Graphic via Pinterest.