I grew up in Vancouver, Canada. My mom was a child protection worker for The Ministry of Children and Families from the late 1970's for close to twenty years. She worked in an area of Vancouver that could and still can trigger a spark of something in a person's soul leading down a pat
h that can be horribly wrong as in serial killer Robert Pickton or sublimely right as in gay right's activist Jim Egan who is one of the OG's of activism in the cities history along with John Turvey who never gave an inch and always demanded the fair and equitable treatment of the Down Town East Side population.
The point for me was that I was exposed to LGBTQ+ people, sex workers, drug addicts and the mentally ill from an early age, I used to wait in the Ministry office for my mom to get off work and I remember talking to everyone and listening to everyone talk about everything. I never felt unsafe. I loved it. Outside of that office, my dad played fast pitch on the Ministry team. The After Hour All Stars was a gang of such incredible energy and strangeness, men, women, gay and straight playing ball on long summer night's. I remember hearing a lot of laughing.
For me though, there was a guy I'll call "Brian". I used to watch "Brian" chase down fly balls and line drives on the Ministry team. I hung out in the background while gay men and women drank beer and smoked pot with straight men and women and weirdly, my dad who also taught me not to give a shit about who people loved. Those games were wonderful as I lived vicariously through these men and women and at no time did I ever think there was anything weird or wrong going on as men would kiss men and women kiss women or what people wore. It was just normal, gender roles were fluid and nobody cared on the ball field or at the office or in that neighborhood. I wasn't old enough yet to realize that Vancouver was not even close to a utopia for LGBTQ+ people.
Today, everyone is freaking out about bathroom's. All this blather and hatred, fear and bigotry made me think back to when I was about ten years old and had the shits during my dad's ball game. The ball field had a bathroom but the stall had no door. I didn't think of it then but realized later in life that the door was removed to prevent men having sex in bathrooms. This was just at the beginning of the AIDS scare and despite people being progressive in the city, the city "fathers", the police and the rich pricks who owned them all were regressive, bigoted, terrified little men. At any rate, I had to go, but was terrified and it was Brian who saw my problem and walked over to block the door making sure no one bothered me. I felt so safe under his watch and so grateful that I devoted myself to becoming as good a ball player as he was. Later, as good a person. A gay man protected me from predators in an open stall in a public bathroom. Fuck you, North Carolina.
Here's the thing. I have watched, worked and participated in the LBGTQ+ community for years. I have beautiful friends both gay and straight and though I lend my unwavering support to advance the LGBTQ+ fight to attain a place in society where definitions of people are based solely upon the "inalienable right to be a human being", I also know the LBGTQ+ movement doesn't need me or straight people to bring the fight forward.
If anything, that evil fuckery in Orlando proves, beyond any doubt, the movement is tough and enduring. Since the first two men and two women fell in love, since the first people dressed how they felt, identified with who they saw themselves as, the LBGTQ+ movement has an obscene litany of tragedies, defeats, deaths, disease, martyr's and a struggle against itself that would kill almost any other social movement. A global condemnation and genocide lasting thousands of years, has only created a hard, honed movement that discarded hate and chose to embrace love. To all my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, you are standing on the edge of achieving an unthinkable victory. Despite the hate and intolerance and the all too real global threat to LGBTQ+ people. You are closer now to a peace with hard won battles that chose love and inclusion over hate and rejection.
I am not saying that there will not be heartache and hardships. Unfortunately there are hard times past and hard times ahead, hard times for everyone but when I look at the LBGTQ+ movement through eyes of a child to now as a 43 year old man, I have seen things, been a party to things that I have failed to see anywhere else in such abundance; a capacity for love, tolerance, forgiveness and an endurance that is beyond my ability to describe it. I see LGBTQ+ people who are furious, righteously furious BUT still carry hope and faith, maybe not in the straight world, because unfortunately, the actions of so many in power and privilege and those whose world view is based in hate and ignorance continue to test the faith and hope we have in each other and, in the end, that's all you need, that and a hero to emulate diving through the grass chasing down a hard liner to left field.
Adam Dunbar (author, poet, ex-ball player)