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This blog is a hate-free place, dedicated to the spreading of awareness and understanding of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Community, their shame experiences and their potential to be resilient. Our goal is to increase your empathy and compassion.

We do not claim to be experts on this topic, however, we recognize the importance of sharing what we can in the hope that at least one person feels compelled to re-evaluate their thoughts, feelings and perceptions.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Lifetime in My Flip-Flops

Imagine walking down a busy street in the middle of New York City, holding hands with someone of the same gender you are, and people turning their heads only to look at you with complete disgust.

Imagine being at a cocktail party with your co-workers and being asked, “So, are you seeing anyone?” and being afraid to tell them, “Yes, I am, and her name is…” because you are terrified of hearing the “gasps,” the “ohs,”, and the “ahs.” Or speaking up and having everyone look at you differently, and treat you differently just because you aren’t just like them and you know longer belong in “their world.” Then, the next day, you go into work, and instead of standing at the coffee pot and partaking in the morning gossip, you are painfully aware that you are punch line.

Imagine seeing your family once a year, and the first thing out of their mouths is “Oh, you’re still single. When are you going to get married?” and you just sit there and give an awkward giggle. But, what you really want to fire back with is “I’m a lesbian, and I can’t get married because you voted in favor of the ban on gay marriage!”

Imagine losing your closest friends because you don't walk their walk and talk their talk. You just want to scream, "No, I am not going to steal your girlfriend!" or "No, I'm not going to hit on you!" And, "Yes, I love chick-flicks, shopping for fashionable finds, and wearing dresses." You want to say to them "I just don't understand why you think I am that different from you, God made me uniquely and special, just like you!" But, you don't because they've already turned around and walked away, only to leave you in tears.

Well, I’m a lesbian. And, that’s my shame.
Speaking those words is painful. “Coming out” is often painful for me.
It puts a pit in my stomach, sends chills up my spine, and sinks my heart into my chest.

My shame is being different.
My shame is hiding who I am to live up to everyone else’s expectations and perceptions.
My shame is sitting in silence.
My shame is speaking the truth about myself and not being heard or respected.
My shame is not belonging.
My shame is living in fear of being less than in the eye’s of those around me.
My shame is being uncomfortable in my own skin.
My shame is being in a room where others are more uncomfortable with me.
My shame is a fear of rejection.

Please do not add fuel to the fire of my shame.
I do not need your ignorance.
I do not need your hatred.
I do not need your approval.
I do not need your disapproval.
I do not need your ridicule.
I do not need your harsh judgment.
I do not need your criticism.
But most of all, I do not need you to know exactly how I feel and what it means to be me. Because, let's face it, unless you've lived a lifetime in my flip-flops, you never will.

I need your acceptance.
I need your love.
I need your compassion.
I need your friendship.
I need your understanding.
I need your fair judgment.
I need your support.
I need you respect.
I need your listening ear.
But most of all, I need you.

My sexuality does not change who I am.
Remember, I am still "the same old" me.

Today, I am being true to myself and being vulnerable to your judgment.
Speaking shame with these simple words has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
On the flip side, it has been the most beautiful thing I’ve ever done.
This has been an incredible part of my journey of embracing and accepting who I am.
And, even more so, it has been a life-changing moment in “coming out” of my shame.
Learn from me. Use my life, my experiences, my words to increase your empathy and compassion for my community.

From the depths of my heart, thank you for being a part of my journey.
--- Allison