If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything-Malcolm X
Welcome to Day Three of the Hop Against Homophobia! I know that there are a lot of posts for you all to get through (I'm trying to make my way through and whew! It is a lot), so I really appreciate you coming by and reading my blog posts and leaving comments. I'm so glad that we can all stand together in this. This HAH has introduced me to some really awesome people and I'm really happy about all of that.
Even with all of the support, the encouragement, all of the voices being raised against homophobia and transphobia, one of the things that has been glaring me in the face are the people who haven't said anything. The ones who don't take a stand, the ones who keep silent for whatever reason.
My voice doesn't make a difference.
One person can't bring change.
I'm not an activist.
I'm just a regular person, not an advocate.
People will always be ignorant and stupid, so talking about homophobia and transphobia isn't going to change anything.
I don't like to stir up trouble.
I don't like to think about bad stuff.
I read the posts, but I didn't comment, one more comment isn't going to make a difference.
I haven't experienced homophobia or transphobia so I don't have anything to add.
I don't know if it's because of how I grew up or if maybe there's some gene in me that makes me speak out, always makes me stand up against injustice, regardless of the consequences to myself, but I've never understood those who don't speak up. When in school, I was always the student that told the teachers when I saw something wrong happening to another student. I quickly gained the reputation of being a snitch, but the greatest thing about my parents being in the military is that every year I was moving to another school in another state or country and for that reason my reputation didn't exactly follow me as much as restart.
By the time I hit the sixth grade I realized that I couldn't just spend my time telling the teacher about everything. There was a lot of reasons behind that. One was the fact that by this point we were living in Polk County, Florida, with no plans to move soon, so I would have to live with whatever reputation I got. Another was that the teachers that I had didn't always step up to fix the situation. That was when I learned how to stand up for the ones being bullied and oppressed myself.
That was when I learned to fight. Not just physically, but verbally as well.
I learned then that I may not be able to change the mind of every bully, which is really just a shame, but that I could change the mind of some of them. I'd rather go to my grave knowing that I took a stand and affected change, even if it's on a small scale, than to go to my grave with regrets.
I don't want to get to the end of my life and see the faces of the people that I didn't take a stand for. I don't want to get to the end of my life and have my room be filled with books I've written, movies/tv shows that I've written, albums I recorded but no people in the room to see me off into eternity. I don't want to be laying on my death bed and know that there were people out there who I never stood up for, people who I never stood behind or beside and told them "I've got your back. We're in this fight together." Because at the end of the day I would rather people know me as "Vicktor: The World Changer & History Maker" than "Vicktor: The Best-Selling Author."
Maybe it's because I'm aware that money is not the cure to everything. Maybe it's because I've been surrounded by people who were focused on beating the shit out of me and no one jumped in to help me. Maybe it's because I've gotten letters from those who I did stand up for or those that I stood with, thanking me for standing with them.
Maybe it's because of Susan.
Susan was my friend from sophomore year of high school. I'd moved from Winter Haven, Florida to Pensacola, Florida to live with my biological father because I was in danger of losing my life to the lifestyle that I was living. I was doing drugs, drinking all of the time, sleeping around, angry, in an extremely abusive relationship and none of my friends and none of my family members could reach me. Looking back I know that some part of me was trying to escape the pain and the horror of my past. I was trying to kill myself.
When I moved to Pensacola I began hanging out with a group of teenagers who were completely different from the bad crowd I'd taken up with in Winter Haven. This was a group of teenagers who were all Christians, but not like Westboro Baptist Church Christians, but open-minded, arms open to everyone Christians (that would unfortunately change as they got older, but that's neither here nor there). I began hanging with them and my grades improved, I got involved in after school activities, joined school clubs, began helping around the community. My life did a complete 180. Then I met Susan. Susan was an exact replica of me from when I first moved to Pensacola.
Susan and I began hanging out and I tried to be for her, what my other friends had been for me. We called and hung out together all of the time. Susan was bisexual and in the closet and I was transgender and gay and in the closet and while we both could see what the other was desperately trying to hide, neither of us said anything to the other. That is something that I wish I could have changed.
When I moved back to Winter Haven my junior year, Susan and I promised to keep in touch and we did for the first few months, but when Susan began telling me about being bullied at school, I felt helpless. I wasn't there to protect her, and I was dealing with stuff at my own high school so how could I help her? I suggested that she ignore the other teens and maybe she could "try to fit in more." *Grimace* I know. Remembering that now, I want to smack 16 year old me in the back of the head.
Susan took my advice and sent me letter after letter telling me how miserable she was, asking for help, for guidance.
Asking for a friend.
But I was too busy, and I didn't want to make waves, and I had my own stuff to deal with. I was only one person. One student. One teenager. What could I do?
Over the next two years when Susan's letters turned dark, I didn't speak up. When I got letters from other friends from Pensacola, telling me about how they were trying to "help" Susan turn away from her destructive lifestyle, sleeping with both boys and girls, I didn't stand up for her. When Susan stopped calling me, I didn't start calling her. I knew how she felt. I had experienced, was experiencing and would experience the oppression, the bullying, the self-disgust, the self-hatred, the darkness that she was living with. But I didn't call her because I didn't think that my voice would make a difference.
When I found out that Susan had committed suicide just days after I'd moved back to Pensacola to attend seminary school (two days after I promised to call her and never did), I was wracked with guilt.
Was this my fault?
What could I have done differently?
Why didn't I stand up for her?
Why didn't I stand up with her?
Why didn't I speak up for her?
When did I become so mealy-mouthed? So neutral? So...cowardly?
Susan's suicide sparked a flame back inside of me that had burned out of me at the end of my freshman year (I had a friend who was murdered and something in me died and I stop fighting). That urge, that need, that desire to fight. To speak up. To stand for what was right, to stand for justice.
To change the world.
I've marched for Darfur. I've spoken up for Invisible Children. I've marched for the Jenna Six. I've signed petitions, donated money, marched, attended rallies and sit-ins for Equality. I've written letters, blog posts, papers, newspaper articles, I've called Senators, Congresspeople, written Presidents (Bush Senior, Clinton, George Dubya, Obama), I've written to celebrities urging them to join the fight. I've Tweeted, Facebooked, Myspaced...I've marched in parades and marched in protests for rights, for equality, against injustice, against bullying, against homophobia and transphobia, against racism, against discrimination.
I stand for what I believe in. I stand for something so that I don't fall for anything. I do my research. I talk to people, I talk to people affected. I talk to those who need to be heard. I talk to those who need advocates.
I am someone who needs advocates.
Because I haven't forgotten that I'm still Black and that racism exists. I haven't forgotten that I still get discriminated against, regardless of who loves me online.
Because I haven't forgotten that I'm still a Veteran of the United States Army. Someone who went into the service, ready to risk his life for justice, democracy and freedom.
Because I haven't forgotten that I'm still a Gay man and homophobia is alive and well. Whether I live in New York or not, if every gay person's rights aren't protected then none of our rights are protected.
Because I haven't forgotten that I'm still a Transgender man and transphobia...yeah, transphobia is a snarling, fire-breathing, livid, clawing, growling monster, still waiting to tear me apart and others just like me.
Because this isn't Utopia.
I'm standing against homophobia. Against transphobia. I'm fighting. I will be an advocate. An ambassador. An activist. Every day until I take my final breath, because at the end of the day, at the end of my days, I want my obituary to be filled with the causes I fought for, the charities I supported, the change that I helped bring to the world.
I want my funeral to be filled with people whose lives I've touched and helped change for the better, more than I want the funeral to be filled with people who liked the fact that I wrote about men falling in love with men so well.
Because I want someone to remember me fondly, the same way that I remember William Neale and Pastor Randall and my Granny Mary and Christopher and Justin. These weren't just people who were nice to me. These were people who, one way or another, and in ways unique to them, touched my life, changed my world and made me a better man.
They all stood up for something at some point in their lives.
I can do no less.
Will you stand with me against homophobia and transphobia? Will you make your life count?
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
A right delayed is a right denied.-
Martin Luther King, Jr.
If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.-
Martin Luther King, Jr.
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.-
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.-
Martin Luther King, Jr.
*Don't forget about the other blogs/contests taking place this weekend. You have until 12am midnight tomorrow night PST (4am EST) to leave comments, your name and email addy to be entered to win. You have until 8pm PST/12am EST to leave comments on any of my blogs or my website to be one of three winners that I will choose. The contests are just the icing on the cake, the message we're sending out about ending homophobia/transphobia is the reason for the hop.*