There are a lot of older people where I work, and I get funny looks from time to time. I don't really care, but it's a larger company, so I know they can't say anything. Some of them are really nice.
I remember the arrests that happened around 90-91... it was at Lucerne Park. There were people who were meeting at night, going into the cabins. People eventually figured it out and they had an undercover sting out there. They got arrested. The paper was brutal. Had their names and businesses, some were business owners, front page of the paper. It was a very intolerant community at that time, it was completely to shame them. One was the florist, I'm surprise he managed to stay in business. You'd drive by and never see any patrons in the lot there. Typical evangelical community.
I remember the Ryan White thing. He was the hemophiliac who got HIV in the 80s. That was a really terrible thing because at that time they had no idea what to do - no retroviral drugs. If you got that, you died. It happened somewhere in the south in Indiana, but it was a national story because he was younger child, got it via blood transfusion, and there was a lot of gay fearmongering about that. Not only was it that gays are immoral, now there's this medical fearmongering.
That stuff was going on when I was in elementary school and did not understand myself then. But I did assume I wasn't a bad person, so I assumed I was straight. It wasn't until a number of years later that I started to understand my sexuality. A lot of it is I was raised in an orthodox family. I actually believed all that.
I was in the military; I was out with some friends, after a difficult deployment. Being in the Navy we hadn't drank in quite a while. We were doing the bar thing. I got separated from them, and I was like "fine whatever", so I did some more drinking, ran into a few other people, and started bar-hopping. At one point I exceeded my limits, got sick, the room was spinning, so I went outside to find a place to vomit. I got out to the street and I couldn't find any grassy knolls, so I ended up in a bus shelter. I passed out and the person who found me was... not a good samaritan. It was traumatizing for quite a while. And I know that a certain portion of that was me thinking "well I'm straight and I had this happen, what does that mean?" I think that's really what it took to even start to consider those possibilities. I don't think I ever would have gotten there or even realized it. That's probably a terrible way to put it. When I look back, even my childhood, there were definitely signs that I could see. It was really the socialization that had me so set against it. I can really shake my finger at Christianity now. It's hard not to be bitter.
Another story about someone else: It was in high school, 92-93. One of the girls used to go out to a place in Fort Wayne, a gay bar there. She came into school one day the entire side of her face purple, bruised up, her eye swollen shut. She was on the sidewalk going into the bar, and it was a thing for assholes to throw baseballs at people coming out for their entertainment.
I don't think that kind of stuff would be common anymore. There are a lot more people now who actually understand, whereas before, they didn't. They assumed really bad things about the person, about their choices. The only choice is whether you're going to accept yourself or not. If I were still a very spiritual person, maybe I never would have. I'm glad that I'm not spiritual.
I think my life is better now. I understand myself better, I'm happier. A lot of it is sexuality, but from my perspective it's closer related to gender... It's a lot easier on me to realize that some of the traits I have are not something that I should be ashamed of because I don't live up to the socially acceptable standards of masculinity. Obviously there are pretty high standards of being a man, and if you reject that, it's not always easy. It's so much more authentic for me, rather than trying to go through life like an actor and worry about whether I'm pleasing people or not.
There are some very good people who come from Indiana. The funny thing is a lot of them don't stay in the state. They have the tendency to leave. The best thing I can stay for this state is there are a few good people. I wanted to leave when I was younger, and I did get away. I hate to admit it, but this is home. I have roots here, I would like to stay for that reason. Sometimes.
38. Pansexual trans woman. White. First moved here 30 years ago.