We Are Orlando: From the Perspective of a Southern Christian Gay Man

I’m a southerner. I’m a Christian. I fall in love with men. And one of my worst fears have come true…

Growing up in the deep south I had to hide a part of who I was from practically everyone in my life. No one could know that I had a romantic interest in men, that I wanted to kiss another guy, that I wanted to marry another man, and start a family and a life with a man.

Fast forward 5 years, moving a few times around Georgia, getting banned from one school, excommunicated from a church, and left at my grandparents’ house … I found myself in Atlanta.

Literally… I found myself. A community and family who understood what it was like to not be able to hold someone’s hand in public, how it felt getting bullied, getting called slurs and having the fear that one day you could end up dead on the streets because your love was something others just couldn’t handle.

I remember going to my first gay bar in Atlanta. Blake’s on the Park.... Gosh, that was one crazy night with some amazing people and the first time I remember not being ashamed of who I was.

Nothing changed about me… I still was that homeschooled, nerdy, theatre loving guy from the country. But, fear left me. I had no fear in holding hands or kissing my boyfriend in front of other people.

Fast forward another 5 years and we find ourselves able to get married, I find myself not living my life in fear of holding someone’s hand in public, but I find myself living in fear that one day someone is going to buy a gun, come into a public place, and kill because fear lead them to believe I am a threat to their safety and way of life.

This fear was confirmed a few days ago as I mourn the death of 49 individuals who were just trying to live the best life possible. Because that could have been me…

I don’t know what needs to change to gun laws and I’m not going to pretend I know enough to tell people what to do.

But, something needs to change. It has to.

How much longer are we going to stand by and live in fear of safe places being a slaughtering grounds for those who disagree with us?

The American government is responsible for the safety of its citizens from terrorism and even from their own. Because of this, they need to act to protect the lives of the people who live within this great nation.

I am tired of living in fear and want to give my future children a place where living in fear isn’t an option. An ideal, yes. Possible? We won’t know till we try.