I am a gay American. I am a 60-year-old father of two. I write on Veterans Day. I am reminded of the words of Joe Astick, a now deceased veteran, “I didn’t just fight for straight Americans… I fought for all Americans.”
I have been mugged, chased down streets by people intent on harm, had strangers tell me they “hate queers,” and I have lived with Blacks while a cross burned on the lawn. I experience anti-Semitism regularly. I know hatred and prejudice. I was taught the hard way.
I’ve learned to be gay, proud, and out. It took me a long time to accept this. I was told it is a sin. In fact, at one time, it was a mental disease. Some of you have compared me to animals… Shame on you, and me. I allowed it to happen. In fact, all I really wanted to do was fit in.
But, now that I’m out you are not nailing the closet door shut, nor do I believe the majority of you want to take away my civil rights.
I have also learned there is no going back in the long run, and I am not always right. So, I remain open minded. We (LGBTs) are joined by the Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, political refugees, and everyone in between, including many of you. I will proudly claim gays in each group.
You don’t really hate us at all, except for fringe elements, and some hate you too.
We all hate the system. It’s the system that eliminated jobs. They shipped them overseas. They eliminated ours too. We get it, or at least I do.
In order for any of us to vote for either candidate, we had to forgive our candidate their flaws… a lot of them.
We all voted. My side lost. However, I choose to see this as a call for new ideas and new ideas are a gay specialty. We must all work together to see that those ideas are not oppressive and regressive. I no more believe that America is in favor of the KKK any more than I believe Donald Trump can do it alone. He will have to surround himself with people of all types, and we’re here already. Let’s take our seat proudly at the table so our voices can be heard.
We must trust fellow Americans to join us and figure our way forward. We must continue to ask for respect, and give respect in return. We must start by listening to what is really being said, by all of us.
Geoff Rosenberger lives in the Atlantic City area and is an Out In Jersey magazine reader.