Everyone following the Olympics is aware that an openly gay male figure skater named Adam Rippon won a bronze medal for free skating on Monday, and in doing so gave gay people everywhere a new love. He also won hearts and a lot of press with his charm and cheer, to say nothing of his courage.
Now this morning on Twitter, he posts this:
Yes, more reason to admire his courage. But note also what is the occasion for his courage: a charming, talented young man is getting hate tweets for no reason except that he’s gay.
Without knowing Adam Rippon, or even knowing much about him, I can tell you a few things about this. First, he knew he’d get vicious crap like this, because it has happened to him hundreds or even thousands of times before. And second, it will continue to happen to him every time he enters the public eye. If he succeeds, people will, as they have here, be angry about and contemptuous of his success. If he fails, people will celebrate his failure.
Terrible. Sad. Shameful.
Now try a thought experiment. Imagine that you’re a gay person, not Adam Rippon but just any gay person, delighted and heartened by Adam’s success, openness, and joy. Now read his tweet again, and answer some questions for me:
How, reading that he has received such hate tweets, do you keep from crying?
How do you keep from despairing at the knowledge that some people will see everything you do, ever in your life, as diminished by the fact that you’re gay?
How do you overcome the fatigue that comes from knowing that you will face this question every fucking day, forever?
How do you keep from hating straight people, all of them, since so many of them hate you?
How do you keep from hating yourself, since so many others hate you?
Do the Stonewall riots, and all gay activism since, seem a little clearer now?