When you live in the South, having someone yell “faggot” from the window of a speeding truck is a gay rite of passage. In that moment, staring at a muddy bumper roaring away, a tacky confederate flag sticker on its tarnished surface, I felt a lot of things. Part of me wanted to try and laugh it off, craft together the words that would make a funny story for later. The other part of me was terrified. Angry. I realized then that I had two choices: stay pissed off, become the bitter gay that curses the world, or push forward, carrying myself with a joyousness so suffocating that my life could no longer be obscured by hate.
Being in a space where there are so few of us, I’ve begun to realize the importance of visibility. Nothing is more powerful than being able to see yourself reflected in others. To see those same people unguarded, unashamed, and unbothered. Nothing feels better than watching as they laugh and smile, their happiness feeding the unspoken unity that ties you all together. Nothing is more radical than seeing all the hate that is out there in the world and deciding to fight back with unabashed self-love.