Yesterday, I was doing one of my favorite things, getting paid to talk about beer. I was having a lovely day, out in the sunshine, chatting with really rad people. And then suddenly, I was faced with a situation I was not prepared for, a seemingly nice man with whom I was chatting with showed a very ugly side of himself. I was shocked, horrified, and in that moment, I felt all the importance of pride month and why there is still so much work to do. While the following story may seem insignificant to many of you, I think dismissing these small offhanded comments shows apathy, and we as a society need to do better. And for my part, writing a post that clearly defines my position on equality, in that I believe every adult, consenting, human should have the right to love whom they want without judgement, hatred, or bigotry.
So here is the story that sparked this little thread. There is a beer app called Untappd, and this seemingly nice man in his 50s was showing me a few of his recent badges and favorite beers. We had a few laughs, and the conversation was pleasant overall. As he was working through my samples of beer, he picked his favorite and added it to his recommended beer list. When he pressed that little button, a badge popped up, and that’s when I saw him for what he really was. The badge was decorated in bright rainbow colours, with the word pride printed boldly in the middle. He immediately exclaimed that he “was not fond of that one, wished he could delete it, but shhhhh don’t tell anyone because that could get him shot!”
I just stood there, shocked, and completely silent. Did this man just admit to me that he was homophobic, didn’t support pride, and was actually worried that he would have violence inflicted on him for sharing this view? What the hell? Without any reaction from me, the guy thanked me for the beer and left. It was over as fast as it began. For him, it was a passing comment, that he inappropriately shared with a stranger. But for me, it left me with a true uncertainty for those around me. A day later, I still have this terrible feeling in my gut, that there was so much more to that sentiment. And I am horrified to imagine that there are so many out there just like him. Of course this troubles me. How could a badge that means so much for so many, also illicit such hate and spite from another? Why, are we so polarized on this issue as a society? What can possibly be gained from hate? Why is there still so much fear from a group of people that have actually done nothing that I am aware of, to deserve it? Oh, that’s right, we as a society still fear sex.
When I have been a spectator at my local pride parade, it usually feels like an incredible celebration that I feel like to be a supporter of. I feel so happy that people are coming together and proudly proclaiming that freedom and love go hand in hand, decorated in bright colours. Even as a child I would get really overwhelmed at parades, and when I went to my last pride day, it was no different. I had to choke back tears as I watched all these beautiful people, proudly marching down the street, in unity.
I am sorry to say, I’m not sure I fully understood all the backhand, snide comments, that people who are openly LGBTQ+ have to face every single day. For me, this was but a disgusting moment in my life. And please do not misinterpret what I say next. I chose to be offended by this man’s comment. I could have just ignored it, dismissed it, and gone on with my life, choosing battles that directly affect me. But the reality is, I don’t think being apathetic or just ignoring these comments is working. I was silent in that moment, because I was shocked, and truly did not know what to say. I didn’t have the words to educate, stand up for what I believe, or to give the guys head a vigorous shake. I felt powerless. I say I believe in equality for all humans, but here I am, admitting that in those precious moments that followed his outrageous behaviour, I just hoped he would vanish from my sight.
What I do know, is I am thankful that this app has a badge that proudly supports pride. And that it brought to light this man’s prejudices. And I hope that the next person he shares this story with is better equipped to educate him. To show him that equality and diversity actually make us a better society, and provide us with a richness far beyond what our comfortable, close minded beliefs default to, a fear of what we don’t understand. And I hope that someday soon, we will not need pride month, because we will just all be equal human beings who celebrate our diversities on a daily basis with the mantra, you do you, and let me do me (or all of us in a big consent fueled group doing each other!).
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