The second guest article from Chris Brown, a freelance writer from North Carolina now based in Georgia.
As I sat in my living room yesterday, I could hear the sounds of summer playtime coming from my neighbor’s back yard. Our next door neighbor had three kids who routinely found themselves leaping, climbing, crawling over our picket fence to retrieve items they had lobbed over.
I watched the littlest one, Jonathan, do his 9 year old version of Cirque De Soliel along my fence one too many times, and decided, for his own safety, that it was time to say something. I figured I’d just say something to Jonathan, because realistically, I’m not too old to not remember what it was like when the neighbors would tell on me.
I walked over and found Jonathan in the far corner of his yard with three friends. He looked up at me, his eyes wide. I beckoned for him to come over and he and his friends obliged: two young girls and one boy around Jonathan’s age. I told him to stay off the fence and knock if he needed a ball. He agreed and apologized.
As I turned to walk away, one of the little girls screamed, “Are you gay? He told us you’re gay.” I was startled, puzzled, unsure of how to answer this little girl’s question. “Umm… well… yes, yes I am gay,” I said, in nothing more than a whisper. The three kids erupted into laughter, the littlest one shouting, “That’s gross, you ain’t supposed to be gay!”
How do you respond to that? I found myself at a loss for words, trying to have a conversation she should have be having with her parents. A conversation that said being different is ok, there’s nothing ‘gross’ about love.
As a leader in the LGBT community, I feel it is my responsibility to contribute to the conversation, shape in some small way how people talk around their dinner table to their children.
There isn’t enough outreach in the world that can have the kind of impact voting down Amendment one will have.
An affirmation that being gay is not different, that voters in the state of North Carolina don’t see being gay as wrong, that the law of the land doesn’t discriminate, sends a powerful message to everyone, parents and children alike, that being different is ok.
We live in a time where this kind of future is possible. Where its possible to be who you are in America, in North Carolina, without fear of retribution, of hate.
It all starts with a simple vote. Voting against Amendment One will someday change the interaction I had with that little girl. It sends a message that will reach across party lines, across religions, and races. It says that out of many we are one, and we won’t stand for this kind of intolerance, discrimination, and injustice. It will mean that one day, even the simplest of minds will understand that this is a place that embraces difference in all forms.
It’s a chance for all of us to start the conversation. Vote against Amendment One. Say no to exclusion, and yes to hope.
If you are a North Carolina voter, look up your voter registration info at the NC Board of Elections website and vote AGAINST Amendment One May 8th.