When Craig was being picked on in grade school for not enjoying sports and jeering at girls on the playground, I was not surprised when the phrase “gay” was used more than a few times at his expense. He often just shook it off in the same way you might with any other playground insult.
One day in ninth grade, he told me that he had something very important to tell me and to meet him at the park ASAP. I was just about as nervous as anyone whose best friend “needed to talk to them ASAP” would be. I remember distinctly the way he told me. He looked around, as if he were doubting the truth of his own news, and said “I… I think I’m gay”. My initial reaction was relieved that there wasn’t any sort of emergency or anything like that. The only thing I could think to say was “Okay”, because really I had never considered Craig’s sexuality to be an important pillar of our friendship. He seemed so relieved to have told someone, as I was apparently the first person he confided in, and we started talking about our plans for the summer.
It took Craig a year from that day to come out to his parents, and 3 years before he did not feel it necessary to pretend he was heterosexual at all. Now, of course my main point of focus was how happy he seemed, finally being able to be him self publicly. But then it struck me: it was too unsafe for Craig to present as gay in our comfortable, relatively safe suburban neighborhood for his entire duration at high school. Craig felt that he would be treated poorly for being out as gay in our community.
That is what National Anti-Homophobia and Transphobia Day means to me. It means fighting for the Craigs and any other denomination of the queer community so that they feel safe simply existing.
Joseph Nogucci is collaborating with the IT GETS BETTER project, donating 10% of proceeds from the RAINBOW PRIDE BRACELETS to promote the abolishment of LGBTQ harassment. On May 17th, National Anti-Homophobia and Transphobia Day, we are promoting this collaboration by offering them for only $24 with the use of the code LOVE24.