Updated: Jul 9, 2019
It all started with Dan Howell's 45 minute coming out youtube video where he eloquently explains his struggle with self acceptance, mental illness, social norms and ultimately his sexuality. It opened my heart to the amount of pain a non-hetero sexual person can experience. And honestly, it mostly opened up my eyes to how little attention I've paid to this human rights issue. This position I do't think is due to any prejudice, internal or learned, but rather because of privilege. The privilege of being in a bubble of a mostly accepting community. Of living in Orlando post Pulse tragedy where 'Love is Love' is found everywhere in memoriam, weaving itself into our subconscious. Of having grown up as a dancer and being part of the arts community where sexuality is as effortless as a tendu. I have a gay uncle and a gay cousin, both of whom have struggled with the cultural and religious walls of our Colombian family. But also, both of whom have found their happy ending, now being able to live openly and with the gift of acceptance from their parents and siblings. So until a couple of weeks ago, I didn't really see the big deal in someone 'coming out', I mean it's 2019 and all of it seems sooo 90's.
Still, the majority of my circle (family, friends and acquaintances) make 'gay' jokes where the word is used interchangeably to mean something derogatory. And I don't particularly remember ever questioning anyone about this. So even though I don't feel like I have a prejudice, it seems I have been an active participant in invalidating someone else's existence.
Dan's coming out video is weighing on me for so many reasons: I am in awe of his courage, inspired to be more empathetic because of it. And I've been reminded that to live our truths beyond sexual orientation is the bravest thing any of us can do, since labels and boxes restrict all of us.
The past two weeks I've been trying to catch up on 10+ years of content from him and his best friend Phil (who might be his current partner, but this detail was left unclear). In the video, he mentions Phil as the one who saved his life, because for the first time he felt truly accepted and loved. This sentiment alone cracked me open to an overwhelming amount of gratitude for also having found MY person so young. And because of this, I have a hard time trying to imagine how difficult it must have been to keep this tremendous amount of love (the romantic kind) hidden for over a decade. Seriously, this kind of selflessness from Phil (who was 'out' but decided not to focus on this aspect of his life as a youtuber/public figure, partly because it's not his M.O. but also <I'm assuming> to protect Dan) is more romantic than anything I've ever read. Romeo and Juliet only knew each other for a total of 4 days when their struggle against prejudice ended tragically, while Dan and Phil have had each other's back for more than ten years!!!
I love them. Take the time to watch the vid, it's really good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrwMja_VoM0
....and also this one. Of Dan getting Jealous over the years, because it tugs the heartstrings a little: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOv4Pw82bzw
In conclusion, even though Pride month may be over, my conscious effort to become a better LGTBQ supporter has just begun.