I remember one of the first times I experienced hate. Pure raw hate. It completely shocked and chilled me. I was living in Kansas City at the time (no clue how long ago this was but like 8ish years?) and I went to see Judy Shepard speak. Her son, Matthew Shepard was tragically murdered in 1998 in Wyoming because he was gay.
I was completely moved to hear his mother speak out against hate. I didn’t realize I would experience it (The Hate) that night. I still get chills thinking about my experience arriving at the event. I was in a car attending the event with two other women (they were dating-not that it should matter). As we approached the entrance we heard people screaming and waving things around- it was very chaotic.
I then saw the signs. God Hates Fags (Fred Phelps) and other super offensive things. I was shocked to see this, and immediately wanted to apologize to my friends. I was incredibly uncomfortable. I was devastated and horrified that my friends had to experience people saying things about their moral character just because they identified as gay/ lesbian. I was also really angry and wanted to do something about it, yell, and tell them how wrong they were. I was so angry that I almost felt hate for them, but what good would hating them do? The part that actually broke my heart was one of my friends saying, we are used to it. No one should have to get used to that. It takes a lot of courage to show compassion in the face of hatred.
It was amazing to hear Judy Shepard speak (there’s a link to her foundation below in honor of Matthew), but this experience has stayed with me. I had never experienced hatred like that before. I actually cried for 2 days after this and I still tear up when I think it. Hate is so sad. Like an internal deep sadness. Once you get to know someone, they become more than what they identify as, their gender, race, sexual orientation. How can we hate people when we are all the same?