The first time I walked into a gay club, I fell in love. Not with a person, but with the realization that I had discovered a place outside of my own home where I could really be myself, completely uninhibited by the expectations of the straight world.
And let’s be honest, there isn’t anything much better than being totally present and comfortable in your own skin.
I could wear makeup and tight clothing without anyone batting an eye. I could hold hands with and kiss whomever I wanted without worrying about offending the sensitivities of a heterosexual. I could follow my female friend into the ladies’ room simply because she didn’t want to go alone. I could lose myself on the sunken dance floor as the pulsating beat of “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails and the flashing strobe lights hypnotized me.
After two decades of learning that I needed to be on guard almost every moment of every day, I had finally found a place to relax and just be. In this sacred place, we were normal and fear was a distant memory.
Most people recognize the horror of what happened in Orlando last weekend when a heavily-armed shooter massacred 49 young men and women at the gay club Pulse, but I am not sure many understand the impact this will have on the gay community at large.
The survivors of this unimaginable event will probably never feel safe no matter where they are, and although the LGBT population in this country is know for being resilient, I would venture to say we will never feel completely at ease in a gay establishment again.
Terrorism won’t win. We will still gather for our parades, our drag shows, and our Saturday evenings with friends, but the one public place we could be completely ourselves has been violated, and our fearless refuge is no more.