I remember her.
The first time I met her.
She was sitting at the end of the bar.
And people all around her, mostly gay men, ignored her. It was as if her presence was just slightly less than tolerated. They all spoke of her disparagingly - using words that were meant to hurt. They called her, 'it'.
I was new to gay life, new to the idea of gay bars, new to the social mores of the community with which I now identified. Even so, common decency told me that this was wrong. I did the only thing that I thought I could do. I said 'Hello'. Friendly like. Small town neighbourly.
She looked at me suspiciously but then replied, "Hello," and we talked.
Today is marked as a day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. We hold these days that have the implicit message that it's the straights that need to clean up their act. And, oh dear, they do. But we can't hold these days without looking to see our own behaviour. Are we guilty of the same things?
The nastiest thing that's ever been done to me as a gay man was done to me by another gay man, he suggested that someone 'like me' who looked 'like me' could not be gay, should not be gay. He was clear that the idea disgusted him. I remember this clearly.
Everyone needs to double-check their attitudes and triple-check their behaviour. The enemy may come from within. So use this day to think about who you are and the attitudes you hold. All of us will benefit. But until then:
So if you ever see me.
At the end of the bar.
Please say 'hello'.