Wake-Up Call. . . Finally.

I won’t have anything to add about the shootings. This will just be me rambling. Trying to simply get it out.


From my earliest memories, I knew I was gay—before I knew what the word gay was.


From my earliest memories I learned that I was damned, an abomination, unnatural, disgusting, broken, and wrong.


I was a freshman in high school when a hunting knife got slammed down in front of my face in woodshop, with the whisper of ‘Fag.’


I was a freshman and sophomore in high school when I heard ‘Faggot’ screamed down the hallway every single day and was pushed into lockers and threatened constantly.


I was a freshmen in college at UNC. A man took a woman and her roommate hostage in my dorm. With a gun. There was standoff with the police. If memory serves, one of the women was his ex-girlfriend. I believe he killed her, but I don’t remember. We watched from another dorm for hours as the police tried to reason. Finally, a sniper shot him through the window and killed him.


I was a junior in Colorado Christian University, and had just started working with Young Life, trying to save the souls of the high school kids of Chatfield and Columbine. I watched on the news in shock from another dorm room as the shooting at Columbine happened. In the next few days, I went to help the Columbine kids. I was sent home before long because I couldn’t quit crying and was making things worse instead of better.


I was a Senior in Colorado Christian University when we had to stay locked in the chapel because there was an active shooter in the neighborhood.


I was 21 when I entered reparative therapy to become straight and try, yet again, to be saved from damnation.


I was 21 and in my first year as a youth treatment counselor as I sat for hours and watched the news as the twin towers fell.


The world didn’t feel safe for years.


I was 27 when I walked out of reparative therapy and finally tried to love who I was.


I was 27 when a boyfriend and I were screamed at in Downtown Denver for holding hands.


I was 27 – 29 when we’d go clubbing every single weekend and then eat breakfast at 3 in the morning at Mamma’s Café, and we’d keep an eye out the window to make sure there wasn’t someone targeting us (we weren’t subtle with our gayness and we didn’t even try to blend in.)


I was 34 on vacation with my boyfriend in Costa Rica and watching the news when the Aurora theater shooting happened a few miles from my home.


For years and years I lead safety drills with 3-6th graders as we prepared for the eventuality of a shooter inside our school. I showed the kids where I would dig out space for them in our games closet so they could hide and promised them I would stand in the shooter’s way.


I’ve lost count of the number of times my boyfriend and I, or just me by myself, have been yelled at and called fag.


I lost count of school shootings.


I lost count of the terror attacks both abroad and here.


I quit feeling much about them outside of the dull monotony and useless of anger of AGAIN?


I show my six-year-old nephew where to hide in a theater when we see a cartoon.


My boyfriend and I often smile at each other after a movie date and joke, “Well, we lived through another one!” Except neither of us is really joking.


I’m used to having to make sure we’re safe or in an okay place before we hold hands or consciously make the decision to hold hands and say, ‘Fuck safety, I’m tired of this.’


Yesterday was the shooting at Pulse. Numb finally wore off. I’m not teaching any more, the numbness you have to build up to face that possibility has slipped. And, maybe selfishly, this one hit home. This was my neighborhood. This is my family. This is my house. You’d have to pay to get me to go clubbing, get drunk, and be social anymore, but this was still my home. This was an attack on me, on my kind, on my family. To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s ISIS, some fundamentalist, some closet case, some fill-in-the-fucking-blank. Who gives a shit? It is what it is and what it is is an attack on me and mine.


Therefore, I feel again. I hurt again, and my rage is reignited.


On his way home last night around ten in the evening, on the same night as the shooting, my ex, the first man I thought I’d marry, was targeted. A man yelling and screaming anti-gay slurs at him, then throwing rocks at him, until he was finally able to get away and run home. All the while, calling 911, they didn’t answer. He is safe and he is thankful for his good fortune.


In thirty minutes I’ve leaving my home to go to candlelight vigil. I’m pissed. I’m crying. I’m scared. I’ll admit it. I’m scared. I don’t want to do die like this. I don’t want to miss the rest of my nephew’s life and have him experience such a loss so young. I don’t want to miss all the other aspects that I love and long for about my life. Part of me says that I’m being dramatic. That there will be security there. That all will be safe. What are the chances? The other part of me says, what a great place for another hate filled piece of shit to do fuckery. I’ve got just enough of my stubbornness yet, just enough of anger is reigniting, and just enough of my need to feel like I’m doing something besides cry, rage, and get ready to vote is intact. Just enough that if there is someone who wants to hurt us tonight, I hope I get the chance to rip them to shreds. Not loving enough or opened minded enough? Tough shit. I’m tried of my people be victims. I’m tired of other innocents of our nations being victims. It’s time to fight.





5 Responses

  1. Andrea M
    Andrea M at |


  2. jacki perrette
    jacki perrette at |

    Thank you for your memories and thoughts. I’m so sorry for all the ugliness that has touched your life, Steven’s, everyone’s really.

    There has to be an answer, but it doesn’t seem that it can get here fast enough. I don’t think it is going to be in our lifetimes. The increase in technology has made it entirely too easy for terror to spread like cancer throughout the world. Those who do extreme things are extremely noticed.

    All we can do is hang on and try to keep hope alive despite the difficulty. That and promote a loving, accepting global community.

    I wish you comfort and freedom from ugliness, and more than that I wish you love and happiness.

  3. Lee Todd
    Lee Todd at |

    I am soooooooooo sorry that society has put you through all of this and I know I can’t grasp the hugeness of something like this EVER happening (maybe I live a sheltered life in Australia?? Who knows?) but I do know that you, your boyfriend and every LGBT person deserve to live your lives in a safe and secure environment.
    You have a right to be angry…just like everybody else should be angry FOR you.

  4. 16forward
    16forward at |

    No one. NO ONE… has the right to take away the peace, safety or freedom of anyone else. To deny them the right to walk outside with the one they love. To be THE determining factor in what love looks like or whether or not someone has the right to live.

    I try to be kind to everyone everyday and be a model for everyone I come in contact with. Other than voting, giving a voice to all those who have lost theirs, it’s hard to know what one individual can do on a daily basis to make a difference today.

    I’ve always believed education is the way to open minds and share ideas. May this continue to be true.

  5. Terri H
    Terri H at |

    Brandon, thank you for sharing your experiences. It infuriates me that we can’t all just let each other be happy. Why does everyone have to be the same to be accepted? I adore you and think that you are a wonderful example to others, whether they are gay, straight, or other. I wish I could give you a hug right now. Please know that you are loved and appreciated for the good person you are.


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