On Gary Salinas’* lap sat a magazine with torn pages, wet spots and thousands of invisible germs. Next to him, sat an elderly man reading his newspaper.
When Salinas went to move the magazine off his lap, the woven rainbow bracelet his partner gave him slipped from under the cuff of his shirt. With a disgusted look on his face, the elderly man stood up, took a bible from his briefcase and sat it down on the chair now placed between the two.
It is bigotry like this that needs to be addressed and fixed before this nation can move forward in any kind of positive manner.
Salinas was subjected to prejudice while sitting in a doctor’s office. And only because a gift from the love of his life slipped from under his sleeve.
This issue is much more than older people stuck in their old fashioned ways. It encompasses people from all generations, all walks of life.
It’s not just the victim of the discrimination that suffers, it’s the people around that witness the crime and are either too afraid to speak up or too naïve to believe that what is being said or done is wrong.
Salinas isn’t the only one that has been put through circumstances like this. Every day, thousands, if not millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are discriminated against.
And every day, thousands, if not millions of bystanders remain silent as they witness this abuse. If we don’t start speaking up about the prejudice we see daily, people will continuously be subjected to not only verbal violence, but physical and mental abuse as well.
According to the New York Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project Annual Report of 1996, The vast majority of victims of anti-lesbian/gay violence, possibly more than 80 percent, never report the incident, often due to fear of being “outed.”
There should never be a fear of being yourself. Because of the constant torment of homosexual individuals, “coming out of the closet” is seemingly impossible. And those that do come out often regret it soon after because of the maltreatment faced once out.
The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)) reported that 45 percent of gay males and 20 percent of lesbians report having experienced verbal harassment and/or physical violence as a result of their sexual orientation during high school.
Any percentage is too high, but 45 percent is just ridiculous. No one should ever have to worry about harassment because of who he or she is. Especially those at the point in their lives when they get to determine who they are exactly.
With enough determination and hard work, we can make America what it is supposed to be. Free and honest. A place where people can themselves without having to worry about being tortured and ridiculed by their peers.
All it takes is speaking up. If you see someone being harassed for any reason, be it sexual orientation, race, religion, or anything else, say something. Don’t be afraid to save someone.
*Name changed for security purposes