Today, May 17, is the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia. As some of you know, I live in the US state of North Carolina. In this state:
- A parent’s sexual orientation can been used to deny custody and visitation rights
- Assaults based on sexual orientation or gender identity are not considered to be hate crimes
- You can be fired from your job for no other reason than being gay or trans
- A little over a year ago, an amendment to the state constitution was passed outlawing marriage equality, because the original amendment one worked out so well (our state motto: “We Don’t Learn from History!”)
It makes me angry–furious–but I don’t want to write an angry screed. So instead I’m going to write about someone I almost never talk about: my dad.
My dad was casually homophobic (and racist) in the manner of most southern white men who came of age in the 40′s and 50′s. I remember him being concerned about the length of my nephew’s hair – what if people thought he was queer? I was only slightly older than my nephew at the time, and young enough to ask what that meant. What I got in return was a vaguely disgusted rant that answered nothing, least of all the next obvious question in my mind, which was “so what?”
Fast-forward to the 1990s. Gaps of years went by where I never heard from the man (which was the way I preferred it), so I can’t say exactly what happened to him, other than he bounced around to my sisters’ houses, getting thrown out one at a time, until he ended up running one of those little diner/convenience store combos that pop up near colleges. He was telling me about it during one of his unexpected, unannounced appearances on my doorstep, and in the course of things threw out: “We were mentioned in The Advocate not too long ago.”
Me: “Um, what? Why?”
Him: “Oh, you know, it was in an article about places gay people could hang out and not get hassled for holding hands or kissing or whatever.”
At this point, my eyes were about to pop out of my head, because I would never have expected this from him in a million years. “And you’re okay with that?”
Him: “Well, they’re just people like everyone else, aren’t they?” And then he went on talking about other things, and that was the whole of the conversation.
I relate this as a counterpoint to the list at the top of the blog. People can–and do–change their minds. Even crotchety old men. And if people can change, society can change. Some day history will look back on this time and wonder what the hell was wrong with people, just as we look back on the Jim Crow era and wonder the same thing.
As Dr. King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
To thank you all for coming, I am giving away not one but five ARCs of Threshold (Whyborne & Griffin 2). Or, if you win but haven’t read the first book yet, I will substitute a copy of any of my backlist. To enter, please comment below. You must include your email so I have some way of contacting you. Winners will be chosen via random.org on May 28.
To read the other blogs participating in the hop, please go to the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia main site.