The events of the past week have left many people reeling in pain, confusion, fear, and grief. The shooting at Pulse in Orlando has launched many to decry the fatal shooting (although not all of them could actually do so while also recognizing that the LGBT community was the target). It has left a community with questions that it has to answer for itself, and it has marred a month that is often a month of celebration for LGBT Americans across the country.
Of equal import is the fact that this deadly attack happened in a place that has served (and continues to serve) as a place of hope. The attack happened in one of few venues in which LGBT persons can be who they are without getting sideways glances from others. It is a place where it is normal to see two boys or two girls holding hands or even giving each other a peck on the cheek in between chatting with friends. It is a place in which you can do all of these things and be understood as completely normal.
With all of this in mind, I share with you a story of my own trip to a small town gay bar many moons ago. I share this with you now because it is the story of how a gay bar helped me to become happy with who I am, and I share it because I want others to know that a gay bar is not simply a place that LGBT go to drink or to engage in casual sex. It is a place in which many LGBT people end up discovering their own community. It is a place that we discover that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is not something to be ashamed of. It is a place that we discover hope. Continue reading