Monday, June 13, 2016

"He Hated Gays"



"He hated gays".  That is what Omar Mateen's former wife said of her abusive husband.

Omar Mateen, the murderer of forty-nine innocent men and women at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was filled with hate of the love gay people show for each other. 

His father said that two months ago his son saw two men kissing one another in Miami and became very angry because he was with his three-year old son. 

Omar Mateen was only one of all too many people in this country who continue to have a simmering hatred of gays.

For those of you reading this blog who are not gay, it is probably difficult for you to understand what it's like to be gay and to live your life knowing that there are people out there who wish you dead just because you're gay.



A few years ago, Bill and I were visiting the mountains of western North Carolina where my father was born.  "Hillbilly" country.  We had visited that area several times before.  This time I was with my straight cousin and his wife to introduce them to our distant cousin.  The night before we were to visit, I called just to confirm our visit.  I was asked by the son "Ron, I have a question to ask you."  I said "What is that?"  My second cousin one removed said "There is a rumor that you practice the gay lifestyle.  Is that true?"  I paused and then said "If you're asking me if I'm gay, I am."  He then said "Now get this bud, if you come anywhere near my parent's place you're going to have me to deal with!  You got that?"  

Me in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina three years ago before I was threatened when it became public knowledge I was gay - I will probably never return
Me in the home of my cousin.  Her husband is talking to me.  This was before he knew I was gay.  He did make a comment about President Obama and "quares".  
Portrait of my cousin's family before they knew I was gay. The man in green on the right is the one who threatened me on the phone about visiting his parents.  Welcome to North Carolina.  And to think at one time I thought I would retire to this beautiful country.
A chill went through me.  Hate.  Homophobia.  I was now "less than" in the eyes of my cousin.  That old sickening feeling returned to my stomach. Unbridled hatred right in my face soley for who I am.  

Many times in my life I have faced this hatred.  Many times in my life I have encountered the danger.  Even once I was physically attacked at a political town hall by a member of the audience just because I stood up and identified myself as a gay man.  

In my younger years I often frequented gay bars and clubs. I felt safe there.  Those places was where I felt safe.  Where I felt empowered.  Where I didn't feel "less than."  

Me on the dance floor at a Philadelphia gay club, Halloween 1980

I just cannot imagine how those young men and women who were at The Pulse nightclub felt when they realized a hate filled mad man was there in their safe place sole with the intent to kill them.  




Sunday's attack was a terrorist attack but it was much more.  It was an open attack on the gay community.  No longer can a young gay man or woman feel safe at their preferred place of gathering with friends. 

The Double L Bar in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware - a place where I used to visit with friends and feel safe

I don't go out to bars on a regular basis anymore.  I'm too old and just can't stay up that late.  However, I do like the music and when I'm on vacation in Los Angeles, I go to Oil Can Harry's that has a special disco night.  Next year I'll go there again.


Oil Can Harry's, Los Angeles, California


Not to make this about me but I am having an unusual reaction to this tragedy.  Of course I've always known the hatred and the fact that living openly as a gay man was dangerous for me.  That my life was at risk. Like the time I was almost hit by a car of drunk teenagers from Boston who were intent on gay bashing after a night of drinking.  I was walking a lonely road back to my motel room from the center of Provincetown, Massachusetts.  As I heard then yelling "Hey, hit the fag!" and swerved their car towards me, I jumped off the side of the road into the bushes, narrowly missing death.  That was just once instance of me avoiding a gay bashing.  I can recount at least a half a dozen more.  But I am not alone in these experiences. But one place I always felt safe was when I was in the bar or the club.  No more.  

This morning I was reading the identities of twenty of the victims.  All were young and of Hispanic heritage.  I have nothing in common with them except that I am gay as they were gay. 

They were on the threshold of their lives. Out for a good time with friends at a safe place.  Then Hell descends on them.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  

As I write this blog, I choke up.  A great sadness overcomes me as I think of their families that will no longer have their loved ones in their lives.  

So, so sad.  

When I was their age, my worry was the police and gay bashers.  My fear was physical safety and surviving in an economy which did not favor a openly gay man.  Never once did I have to fear that someone would enter the one place where I felt safe, a gay bar or club and kill me.  

The past few years I thought perhaps, just maybe, the hatred of gays had lessened.  Maybe not folks, maybe not.

19 comments:

  1. I had a kooky Jehova's Witness Aunt ask my Mom if I were 'funny like Uncle Buddy'. An adult woman who can't even use adult words... Fortunately, my Mom stood up for me, but the relationship with my Aunt waned. I consider that my good fortune, to be honest.

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    1. Bea,
      My cousin Lois, who has a gay son, asked me if could talk to me about why I am "different" like her son is "different." I guess straight people are afraid to use adult words. I told her that I was born "different." To me being "different" is totally normal. I don't think she understood. She did ask me to talk to her son. Why? To change him? I talked to him and he agreed with me, he was born "that way." I haven't heard from her since. I feel sorry for those Moms who just don't understand. She is probably like my Mom when I came out to her. My Mom's first reaction was "Where did I go wrong?" "I tried to raise you the right way."
      Ron

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  2. Anonymous12:39 PM

    The Orlando killer, Mateen, was a muslim. It is against their religion to allow gays to live. They are notorious for killing all gays in the middle east. One of their favorite tactics for killing them is to throw them off roofs. Once you realize that, you'll understand the situation. Islamic terrorists are intent on killing gays. Just as I, a Christian am one of their targets also. I have stopped wearing a cross around my neck when I am out in public. Our government has failed to keep us safe. The government has failed to tell us the truth.
    Stay well and be safe my friend.

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    1. FINALLY!!! Somebody actually gets what this is all about. "Anonymous", I heartily applaud you for telling it like it is. I've tried to do the same in the past and it always falls on deaf ears. This wasn't merely a gay hate crime - it was much more than that. Seeing "two men kissing" had nothing to do with the killer's motivations.

      Radical Muslims hate gays, women, Jews. And it is high time that we stop catering to them and allowing them to infiltrate our country with their insane beliefs. It will be a joyous day for me when our Muslim-loving president will finally leave office.

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    2. Ron. I loved your post and I fully understand what you're saying. My previous comment was solely directed to "Anonymous", who finally said what I've been thinking for a long time.

      I just wanted you to know that I'm not discounting your point of view with ALL the bigots that we have to deal with.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous,
      Too many "good Christians" would be perfectly happy to kill gay people too. Check my newest blog entry.
      Ron

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    4. Jon,
      I understand your comment. No problem.
      Ron

      Delete
  3. Anonymous4:13 PM

    I am a 63 year old woman in North Carolina and have enjoyed your blog for several years. I am so saddened about your cousin's comment, and hope that you do not think that everyone in NC feels that way. You and Bill would be welcomed in my home at any time.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I know that there are many good folks in North Carolina who are not prejudiced and don't see the world the way my cousin and his family sees it, only white, straight people like him are acceptable. I would have understood if he had told me that his parents were uncomfortable hosting me and my cousin Bob and his wife Marie. What upset and scared me (to be honest) was the threat. Like I was some kind of vile human being that must be kept at a safe distance. All my life some have tried to treat me as "less than." I've never accepted that treatment and it has gotten me into trouble. I am who I am and I would never change myself to suite someone else's view of me to make me more "acceptable."
      Thank you again for your comment and your offer of hospitality. I very much appreciate it.
      Ron

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  4. I am so sorry that people/muslims killed so many gay people in the name of religion. It is sad you feel like a target. That would make me feel so vulnerable doing any normal thing I do.

    I WOULD BE PROUD TO BE YOUR FRIEND!

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    1. Practical Parsimony,
      All my life, even as I approach my 75th birthday, I have been faced with this unbridled hatred of me just because of who I am. How I happened to be born. All my life I have felt the danger and sought to protect myself by almost anyway except by denying who I am. I have always and continue to feel vulnerable because I don't play it safe by hiding and lying about who I am. A lot of progress has been made but I fear we still have a long way to go before gay men and woman are recognized and treated as equal human beings deserving of the same amount of respect as straight people take for granted.
      Ron

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  5. Ron,
    I was sickened by this Hate Crime/Terrorist act. Why can't people just live their own lives and leave other's to their own lives. I know that sound simplistic, but everyone has the right to be free in their own skin and live their lives the way they want too. So sad............

    Linda

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    1. Linda,
      Ignorance knows no bounds.
      Ron

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  6. Sad Sad Sad for sure ......

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    1. Roger,
      You know what we have had to live with all our lives.
      Ron

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  7. I just stumbled on this blog and your post. I wanted to say first, "I am so sorry". Please know that many Christians are grieving this loss with you and are truly horrified by it and the treatment you described receiving as a gay man.
    I also really cannot believe there are human beings who want to kill people they don't agree with when those people are doing nothing to hurt them or others. Your life, your choices. Unless your life hurts others, it is not my business unless you ask for my opinion.
    May God bless you.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Patti for your kind and very understanding comments.
      Ron

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  8. Anonymous8:45 AM

    There are several major causes of this terrible tragedy and homophobia is just one of them. If you are homophobic but are not blind by religious fundamentalism maybe you will never consider mass murder. But even if you consider mass murder, if you live in a country where the access to automatic shot guns is reasonably controlled, maybe you will think twice about your plans. Now it seems that the murderer frequently visited gay clubs and he was avoiding to kill blacks, new strange ingredients for this tragic cocktail. Anyway everybody is a potential target for Muslim terrorism these days. Gays, train, subway and plane users, rock concert or football fans, restaurant clients or, mainly, people living in Muslim countries. Most of us are at least lucky that we are not in the last risk group. Juan.

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    1. Juan,
      There is absolutely no justification for the available of automatic weapons for sale to the general public. Machine guns were outlawed many years ago and automatic rifles should also be outlawed.
      Ron

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