January 2001


Courage... what is it? Were does it come from? What does it mean? And why does everyone say that we don't have any? WHY? That makes no sense to me. Straight, and even other GLBT people, say that we have none. Every day of our lives we are faced with what seems to us as a life and death decision with which "straight" people don't have to struggle.

It is a decision that other people make every morning without thought. That decision is this: get up and go to school to face the taunts, fear, and even physical attacks of our fellow students, or to stay home in bed, safe and comfortable, knowing that we don't have to face the day. Having to make that decision every day infuriates me.

I'm a seventeen-year-old junior in high school. I've been out now for about six months. For the first two and a half weeks after I came out, I was physically sick at the idea of going to school. The constant terror while I was there was suffocating. The constant fear that someone was going to say something was so overpowering that I thought I was going to drown in my own fear. I thought I was going to die. I didn't think I could hold on. I wanted to stay home everyday, but I sucked it up as best as I could and went on.

Then after about two and a half weeks had passed, I woke up one morning trying to decide if it was okay for me to stay home. I started to think of all the things that had been said to me. All the glancing punches to the arm and whispered "fags" as I walked down the hall. At that moment, it was official. I was outraged! I got out of bed that morning with nothing more on my mind than showing everyone up. I was going to prove that a gay guy could be out in high school in a back-hills town and survive. I was going to show them or die trying. Knowing that things would be better I made two promises to myself that morning. 1) I would no longer be afraid of what the day held. I would take what came my way, and deal with it in my own way. I would NOT let other people push me into depression. 2) I would not let words like "fag", "queer", and other derogatory cat-calls bother me. I would either ignore them or acknowledge them on my terms. Because, though derogatory, held a shred of honesty about who and what I am.

That day, and every day after it, I was not afraid. That day when I heard one of those names, I would simply smile and bow, or just smile and nod. That day I won the respect of a great many people. I won that respect because I showed them that I would not be intimidated. I showed them that I would stand for myself, by myself, if I had to.

Courage........is standing up for what's right even though you are afraid. It comes from our resolve to see right done. It means that we are doing what needs to be done. They say we have no courage because we can't fight back against all of them all of the time. We are human. We get tired. We need a break. We can't do it by ourselves. That's why the gay community is so tight knit. That's why we are a community. Because together we stand, and separated we fall.

That is why we will win. We are one. Don't let anyone tell you that you have no courage. We do have courage. We have more than most. It takes most of our strength just to get up in the morning. It takes almost everything we have to do what others call "normal life." Every day is an internal emotional battle. Every day is a physical struggle with ourselves and the ones we come into contact with. So don't ever doubt yourself. If you can get up in the morning and go about your life, you are most courageous indeed. We, the GLBT people, are the very essence of courage.


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