Hate. Disgust. Abhorrence. Aversion. Detestation. Horror. Loathing. Repugnance. Revulsion. Repulsion. Animosity. Antipathy. Hostility. Rancor. Scorn. Spite. Abomination.

Fear.

By now you've probably heard about Matthew Shepard, the gay college student in Wyoming who was tortured and beaten to death because of his sexual orientation. I won't bother to give you the details at this moment; the media is saturated with news of this episode, with opinions from both sides. I can't turn on the television or open a newspaper without reading the reaction of some civil rights group or, alternatively, some right wing organization.

I can't do my soul justice to describe what I've felt during these last few days. Incredible anger, frustration, and fear because I am gay, what stops such a horrible thing from happening to me? I can say that I am out, that I am proud, but at the moment I am just confused and scared. Who is next to be killed by hate?

In my anger I've felt things that I don't recognize. I believe in a fair, tolerant, and true justice system. However, my feelings supercede this belief, and I just want to see the people who did this to Matthew Shepard treated the same way he was treated; at some moments these past few days I was ready to be the first in line to volunteer.

Thankfully, the realization I come to does not include this. Do I believe that those who allegedly did this, upon conviction, deserve the death penalty? Yes. Do I believe that this tragedy was a result of antigay propaganda in our society? Yes again. Do I believe that the death of Matthew Shepard should be used as a rallying cry to the people of the world, that equal rights for gays needed this catalyst to make it happen? No.

I truly doubt that the family of Matthew Shepard wants their son's name canonized in the name of equal rights. Most likely, they want their son back. Perhaps they will stand behind the cause of equality and make sure that their son's death will not be in vain. Perhaps not. So whatever this murder inspires, do not use Matthew Shepard's death as the reason. The reason is that gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered people deserve equal rights and protection from discrimination and harassment because the Constitution of the United States guarantees it. Those who stand in the way of these measures are directly conflicting with the Constitution of the United States, and thus are committing treason. This should not be allowed to happening.

Why is all this hate so rampant in our society? It is because of fear. Religion has no place for love in its strictures it is all a combination of laws designed to control people, telling them that if they conform to all these laws, they are guaranteed a place in heaven. Deeply religious people see the world, and they see love, and they are jealous because they know their religion won't allow it. So they persecute love and freedom to the point where they hate the ideas and, therefore, hate the people who have incorporated love and freedom into their lives. They fear the legendary wrath of God, and thus, are afraid to be happy.

So how can we battle this? My first inspiration was hate how I wanted to hurt the people who killed Matthew Shepard so much scared me. However, hate is what brought us here. Hate has ended the life of someone who allegedly was a good, loving person. So the line must be drawn here. We should not use hate as a weapon, as the conservative and religious groups have. Love, compassion, and caring must be our weapons. To see people happy and in love will do more damage to the spirits and beliefs of those who seek to destroy it than will screaming and arguing. Can you imagine how a group of antigay protestors would react if the group of equal right protestors opposite them started laughing, hugging, and kissing, regardless of gender?

Be you straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or anything in between, show these people your love is more powerful than their hate. But use common sense; we don't need another tragedy like Matthew Shepard's. However, do not give up the ground we have. If someone makes a comment that's not appreciated, make them aware of it. "That's gay" is no longer an accepted term to denote dismissal. Don't say it, and if anyone around you does say it, call them on it. Or it will never stop. If someone you know has open biases against gay people, do your best to make them aware that they're so very wrong. You know the standard slams against gay people - and you also know how wrong they are. Fight them, but with control and caring - not with hate.

I wish for a world of peace, where everyone has an opportunity to love and be loved as they wish. Don't the conservatives want this freedom? Don't you?

-David Wycislak
davy@torithoughts.org