Pride Month is alive and thriving this year, especially with influencers like Dan Howell and Eugene Yang recently coming out as gay. If you've seen Dan Howell's 45-minute long opus, "Basically I'm Gay," you'd understand how damaging it can be to grow up with the idea that being gay means you're doomed to being the outcast and major loser of society. But if you haven't, picture this scenario.
The year is 2019. A small boy hasn't grown into his middle school body yet and falls a couple of inches short compared to most of his classmates. He grew up on Marvel superheroes and My Little Pony, Barbie dolls and toy cars. Now as soon as he wakes up, he plays Minecraft and Roblox on his iPad and video chats his friends from other classes. He also religiously follows the K-Pop girl group, BlackPink.
One day, during recess, a tall boy walks up to the small boy and calls him gay because he thinks it's weird that he only has friends who are girls.
And maybe to the tall boy, it's not a big deal.
So what happens when that boy who was called gay grows up? He might be straight and never think twice about that interaction. He might be straight and might have subconscious prejudices against people in the LGBT+ community.
And what if he's gay? What if he's bisexual? What if he's queer?
What if he suppresses his true feelings in fear that people will single him out again?
What if he stops being honest with his friends and his family because he's afraid they won't accept him for who he is?
What if he doesn't feel comfortable talking to anyone because he believes that everyone thinks that he's some kind of freak?
What if he becomes depressed and can't find the motivation to do anything that used to make him happy?
This is the reality for many queer people.
This could happen to any child. To think that this could happen to my brother, someone that I love and someone that brings the brightest of sunshine into my life, disgusts me. To think that this could be happening to my friends who are my age, friends who could be struggling with their truths because they were so used to associating the world "gay" with "stupid," "frail," or "loser" as a child.
Of course, the tall boy is just a child. Should he know better? I think he should. If people aren't taught to be careful of what they say, they can literally ruin lives in the future. Things that people say to us can live with us until we visit our graves. Remember that always.