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The Importance of Visibility

Black and white photo of two men holding hands with the words The Importance of Visibility over it

I’m just as confused, hurt, and infuriated as you are. Waking up to the familiar headline “Worst Massacre in U.S. History” was a horrifying déjà vu, but then discovering it was at a gay club I once frequented made it very close to home. I have read every heartfelt post on Facebook, and am amazed at the depth that my LGBTQ+ family members have on the subject – especially so quickly thereafter. I depended on their strength to get me through the first couple days of the week, and then I slowly formed my opinion on what we, as a community, need to do. It may not seem like that much, but we have the power to make an impact.

Emerging from the closet for me wasn’t that difficult – I am privileged in that sense. I was 17 in 1993, which was the peak of the alternative scene with garage bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam taking over the radio. It was a time when having body piercings and peacock-blue hair were considered cool, fresh, and new. Fortunately for me, I fit right into that scene, and coming out as bisexual (at first), was not scoffed upon. You still couldn’t hold hands down the street comfortably, but it was the beginning of the acceptance of “gay.” My parents were supportive, and I just waded slowly and deeper into the gay pool until I had my first real boyfriend at 21, who is now my ex-husband.

Over the years, we weren’t too affectionate in public, which is something I regret. People looked up to us in many different ways, but we were too caught up in our own world and took it for granted. Before we had our son, most people probably just thought we were a couple of bros, as we kept a platonic distance in public. Shame on us. We were in love but let the oppression around us affect that love. We even subconsciously knew that we were “blending in,” and became very comfortable with that notion. By not expressing our affection, even in a simple manner such as a hand on the lower back, we were still in the closet. But we were in the closet together, and we all know that misery loves company.

Since my divorce, I’ve experienced a different perspective. I had a boyfriend for a while that I was effortlessly affectionate with in public – to the point that I had no idea I was doing it. People recognized us as a gay couple everywhere we went, and instead of stares of disapproval, we were met mostly with smiles of admiration. I loved it, and thrived on it (and miss it). The key I’ve realized, is that we, as the LGBTQ+ community, have to be confident. If we grab our partner’s hand, and inside our brains are thinking “OH MY GOD, EVERYONE IS LOOKING AND KNOWS WE ARE GAY, THIS IS TERRIFYING,” then we’re going to appear terrified. If we can quiet our thoughts down to a whisper “well, this is different but I can relax and trust my partner,” then we’ve just taken the first steps to showing the world that this is okay. It’s more than okay. It’s fucking normal. We’re allowed to be normal, plain and simple – because we are normal.

So the question has become “what can we do?” And the answer is “love each other, and show it.” Also, it’s encouraging those we know that are closeted to perhaps step out, with tons of support for them. It’s a call to arms, and we need to fight the hate with love. If there’s one thing I know about the LGBTQ+ community, it’s that we’re passionate, and it’s time to show the world just how goddamn passionate we can be. If you are currently in a relationship, discuss this with your partner, I urge you. If you’re already into holding hands and a smooch wherever you are, then praise you – keep at it, and inspire others around to mimic you. Instead of offering your hopes and prayers, offer up some balls and show the world you’re gay. We need you.

As this week has come to a close, my anger has become more focused and therefore more powerful. It’s perfectly OK to be angry – anger can be wonderfully motivating. I honestly think the Orlando Massacre is a clusterfuck of a situation, and it will take much time to sort out the mess. I have wiped away my tears and have reached a point of no return. I want to fight for those we lost, their family members and friends who loved them. I want to fight to prevent more human lives, of any sexuality/race/religion/whatever from being senselessly harmed, maimed, or murdered. My name is Frank Lowe, I’m a pissed off gay dad, and I’m going to make sure the world is a better place for my son. Are you with me?

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