It really is that simple. No matter how much you try to tell us how much you “love” homosexuals or the effort you take to convince us that you’re really acting in our best interest, we know the truth. You don’t like us. Not even a little bit.

Don’t try to deny it. You refuse to use basic words like “gay” in conversations about the LGBT community. Instead, you steadfastly stick to your preferred “neutral” word, “homosexual.” After all, you say, homosexuals aren’t really gay. Not only that, it’s a focus on the “sex” that you think we have all the time. It’s obvious every time you say it. “homo-SEX-ual.”  And when you’re not trying to be professional and are among friends, you use the words you really want to use: faggot, dyke, and queer. After all, you don’t like us.

When someone brings up the notion of gay rights, you immediately tense up and declare that “they shouldn’t have special rights!” as if there’s something “special” about the fact that we gays shouldn’t have to fear getting fired or kicked out of our apartment because we’re gay. You fight tooth and nail to keep equal employment and non-discrimination laws from being passed because, after all, we can just stop having sex with people of the same sex anytime. That would mean we’re not gay anymore. Unfortunately, though, you still wouldn’t like us if we started to date your daughter.

In fact, you don’t want us to have kids at all. You think we’re all pedophiles, which is a complete lie, and you’ve never come to terms with the fact that homosexuality and pedophilia are two completely different things. You use this false connection as a reason to ban us from adopting the children that you don’t want, and even to try to take our own children away from us. You don’t like us at all, and you certainly don’t want us to raise a family.

You don’t want us to be your kid’s teacher, your doctor, or your nurse. But you’re okay if we cut your hair, tell you a joke, or even make your floral arrangement. That way, we’re in jobs that fit your stereotype, and you can leave as quickly as you came in. You might like our witty jokes on TV, but you still don’t like us.

You know your kid and their friends call that other boy a “faggot” every time they pass each other in the hallway at school. They beat him up because he’s not manly enough, and they torture him verbally at every opportunity. You told your kid what you think gays do in the bedroom, and they pass those stories along to their friends — gerbils and all — thus adding to the great mass misinformation that is dispensed against us. You didn’t tell that kid not to like us, but he learned it from you anyway.

Now that we’re starting to get past the fact that you don’t like us, we’re pushing forward with gay rights and marriage equality. And we’re gaining a lot of ground. We’re getting married in more states than ever, and we’re living our very normal, boring lives. Nevertheless, you’re going to spend countless millions of dollars to fight tooth and nail to keep us from being able to marry in our own country or our own state. You know full well that if we were to be able to marry, it wouldn’t affect your marriage even a little bit. But what’s a little truth when it comes to the fact that you really don’t like us?

When you listen to your pastor talk about the “evils” of homosexuality, you nod your head right along as he talks about the leather, the drag queens, AIDS, effeminate men and masculine women, and how they’re all an abomination to God. You glaze over the scripture verses he gives you that prove that gays are bad, and you never give it a second thought — at least not until you have the opportunity to quote that verse right back at us face-to-face. You say you love us enough to give us the truth, but the reality is that the truth is ugly. You don’t like us.

You refer to our lives as a “lifestyle.” Never mind the fact that our lives are exactly like yours in every way, except for one single element: the bedroom. Ultimately, it’s there that your revulsion really comes into play.

If you’re a woman, you might be irked that a man would choose another man over you. If you’re a man, you bristle at the idea that there’s a woman you can’t have because she likes girls. “She just needs a man to rock her world,” or “He hasn’t met the right girl yet.” Whatever. We’ve heard it all before. We’ve turned you down. And you don’t like it.

No, you don’t like us at all. You don’t like the fact that a man can look at an other man’s hairy ass and say “I want that.” You loathe the fact that a man would be willing to receive anal sex and enjoy it. The concept a man performing fellatio on his boyfriend is enough to turn your stomach. You never want to think of these things, but even a moment’s thought is enough for you to define a gay man solely by the sex act itself. It’s certainly enough for you to determine how much you don’t like us.

We get it. You don’t like us. Not even a little. Maybe you’ll come to terms with that one day, and then we’ll begin to have a conversation — that your dislike is not a wall that keeps us from our equality. It’s a hurdle to overcome.

That hurdle isn’t ours. It’s yours. You don’t have to like the idea of gay sex. Quite frankly, you shouldn’t even try to understand it. You’re not gay. You’ll never “get” why a man wants to get frisky with another guy or why a woman just isn’t into men.

You don’t have to like us. But you do need to be honest about what keeps you from beginning to understand us, and what keeps you from finally embracing us as human beings. There, the conversation can begin, and there, understanding can take shape.

One thing you really do need to understand: just because you don’t like us doesn’t mean you get to decide how we live. You certainly shouldn’t carry that contempt into a ballot box. Voting down a person’s rights just because you don’t like them — well, that’s just petty. And you know it.

But this article isn’t about condemnation and pointing fingers — it’s an opportunity. Get to know a gay person. Start those conversations. Listen to our stories. Let us tell you about our lives, our loves, and our hopes. Go bowling with us. Have dinner with us. Talk over coffee. Over Mexican food even.

Who knows, you might even learn to like us.

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