Pulse

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I was 18 years old in 1998 when two men tied Matthew Shepard to a fence and beat him to death.

I had just finished high school.

I had spent most of my high school career trying to convince the principal to allow a gay-straight alliance club on campus.

We were told that our club wasn’t in line with the values of the school.

It wasn’t in line with the pulse of education.

 

I was 12 years old when I had my first “family life” class.

I was taught about menstruation and relationships and sex.

Relationships were between one man and one women.

I remember my face turning red and my pulse quickening.

I was five years old when I kissed my best friend on the lips and told her that I loved her.

 

I was 19 years old when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed 13 people at Columbine High School.

I watched the news in my parent’s bedroom with the covers pulled up to my chin.

I wished then that I would never again see something so awful.

That was 17 years ago.

That was too many lives ago.

 

I was 21 years old on September 11th 2001.

I heard the news on the radio on my way to my community college.

We cried and sent confused glances at each other in the parking lot.

I had a test in my philosophy class that morning.

We were 60 kids filling out scantrons, trying to make sense of the world.

Nothing was the same after that.

 

I was 22 years old when I went to college at UC Davis.

The pulse of the world had changed.

Between classes, we protested the war.

Between classes we protested rape.

Between classes, we protested the military-industrial complex.

In 2003 we protested Lt. John Pike who was sued for gay-bashing one of his fellow members of the force.

Eight years later Lt. Pike became famous for brutally pepper spraying students for protesting.

 

I was 28 years old when Prop 8 passed.

I had protested that too.

And I had been spat on and chased and followed and terrorized.

Prop 8 gave a legitimacy to haters and bigots.

They felt empowered by policy.

We learned to take different routes home if we were walking, just in case.

 

I was 16 years old when I understood that I was queer.

I knew I was different and I knew that it mattered.

My mother had read my diary.

She told me to pretend that I was straight.

Not for social graces.  But for my own safety.

 

I was 33 years old when I married the love of my life.

We got married in Disneyland.

Our families were there.

We exchanged vows and rings.

We rode the train and it roared like the pulse of our heartbeats.

She wore a tux.  I wore a dress.

We ate red velvet cupcakes.

It was the best day of my life.

We still check our surroundings when we hold hands in public.

 

 

 

I’m 36 years old now.

And I feel like I have spent most of my life either grieving or living in fear.

This isn’t the world I had expected.

This isn’t the world I was promised.

This isn’t the world I had wanted.

I don’t want a world where people are shot for being gay.

I don’t want a world where people are shot.

 

We have to stop telling our children that it gets better until it is actually going to get better.

It has not gotten better.

 

I want to believe that love conquers all.

It’s just that love is a verb, an action word,

And without action, love does nothing.

 

We must be active in policy making

We must be active in peace making.

We must be active when we see injustice.

We must take action.

We must change the pulse of society.

 

 

 

 

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