May 2016, I had my first NYC experience. It wasn't anything like I kept imagining, but I did't have realistic expectations. My reality was distorted and clouded, and it had 100% nothing to do with New York itself. Because I grew up in the south.. No, scratch that. The Bible Belt of the south, I just imagined that New York would be the same, but a lot more people. And my god are there so many people. It's like watching a time-lapse.. except people really are moving that quickly.
Disclaimer: I grew up in a town where there's a church on every street corner, and where the Church of God Headquarters are. Growing up, my grandfather was/is a pastor at what's deemed a "Mega Church," the kind that's on TV and it's more of a production show than a church service. It's also pentecostal, so need I say more?
I'll never forget the feeling of going out in the city for the first time with Emily. Being from Tennessee, I was slightly anticipating an awkward situation where we subject ourselves to bigotry, hate and just pure uneducated ignorance. But it never came. I know what it's like to feel the weight of a 3,000+ member congregation view you as tainted, confused, impure, a sinner, or hell the funny part-- at least 50% of the males would sexualize being a lesbian and think it's "sexy" but their wives will never care because boys will be boys, right? So, in my head I was just waiting for that moment, for that feeling to pass over me-but man was I wrong. Like embarrassingly wrong. Literally, i'm embarrassed for myself that I would even assume that the rest of the world passes the same judgements that I felt for so long. Maybe that makes me a part of the uneducated and lame for thinking that way?
New York was so much more. I know it sounds so cliche to those who grew up in places more accepting, but it was so liberating to not feel like someone was eying you like there's something wrong. And that is so incredibly sad. I am sad for all of those who grew up and still are in places where they feel like something is wrong with them. My coming out story is for another day, but I didn't even experience most of the things that the majority of the LGBTQ community face when they are growing up in a places ruled by organized religion.
In college, I even minored in theology just so I could try to understand the literature behind all of the cruelty. It amazes me to this day at how people choose to distort scripture so that it can fit their beliefs instead of morphing their beliefs around the literature--No one wan't to talk about the "dark" side of Yahweh when it comes to their own shortcomings, but man how quick are they to throw the stones without the slightest of internal examination. FYI fellow Queers: There's absolutely nothing wrong with you. Your insecurities revolving around who you are and who you want to be are a direct result of a very sad world that's looking to blame anything and everything they can so that they make themselves feel superior.
What poor, unfortunate souls.
This isn't a post about religion-- but it's a post for all those who have felt a heavy chest because of their environment. New York was a breath of [cold] fresh air. Life is moving so quickly, and overall my first experience in NY was that people acknowledge that life doesn't stop for anyone, so why should they pay any attention to who you are sleeping with. Like are you kidding me, I'm tryna make this train, I could careless that two men are holding hands while walking. People in NY are so consumed in this fast paced lifestyle that is sooo different than anywhere else in the United States. They literally don't care. It's "normal." It's an average way of life. You're gay? Cool. If not, that's cool too.
In New York, there's a huge movement for equality, and overall people are all on the same page. Of course there's extreme outliers for every campaign, but if you visit, hold you girlfriend's hand high, make out in the middle of Times Square and have some fun experiencing the concrete jungle. There's so much to do, to see and there's no time like now to do it all. I can't even begin to explain the feeling of acceptance for all (yet, there's nothing to accept because we are all human?). That sounds confusing, but "to accept" is not a verb for people here. It's just how it is. You just have to experience it for yourself. I hope you can.
*Also, if you want to read up on some cool LGBTQ history, google the StoneWall Inn. It's a National Historic Landmark site where the 1969 Gay Rights Movement riots took place.
Thank you New York for honoring the Liberty to be who I am, and to love who I love. This type of feeling didn't even exist in my dreams. Now, it's such a reality and it's open for anyone and everyone.