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The day Mariel invited me to go out for coffee

Several years ago, my friend Mariel invited me for coffee. We made small talk, watched passers-by in the mall. And then she said, "I have something important I want to share with you."

She paused, and said "I wanted you to know that I'm a lesbian. I've been in a relationship with a mutual friend of ours for a number of years. She isn't "out" so I hope you'll respect her privacy.

"I just wanted you to know."

I paused, too. And I thanked her for telling me.

For trusting me.

Then I said, "To me, you'll always be my friend Mariel. Nothing will change that."

I hope I said the right thing.

The encounter made me think about all the LGBTQ people currently in my life. My high school friend who kept her orientation secret until years after we graduated. A close friend, who is bi, who grew up living in fear of discovery, of being beaten, or rejected by family.

And of Mariel's partner, who is still in the closet.

As a hetero, cis-gendered person, I have no idea what it is like to live with those sorts of fears.

But I know those fears are legitimate.

The violence is real.

We've come a long way in just the last ten years. There are more positive depictions of LGBTQ people in the media. Same-sex marriage has seen increasing support across the country.

But we still have a long way to go before every U.S. Citizen feels safe regardless of sexual orientation.

For my part, to show my support for my friends and others like them, I am an LGBTQ Ally.

I'm not Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Pansexual, Intersex or Asexual. I just support this crazy idea that everyone should have equal rights.

That includes the right to not live in fear.

To learn more about LGBTQ Allies, visit these websites:

Credits:

Created with images by Caleb George - "Woman waiting near a window" • Thomas AE - "Wedding ring used for marriage ceremony"