Op-Ed

My deviant life in a soul-damaging state

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I’m from North Carolina, born and raised. I went to college here, met the love of my life here and am now raising my kids here. I am also gay.

Although the news has mostly focused on House Bill 2 as the “bathroom bill,” it is so much more. While it does indeed specify that we must use the bathroom corresponding to the gender listed on our birth certificate (and I must point out that we have all been using the bathroom alongside transgender individuals for years), it also stops cities and local government from expanding on nondiscrimination laws to protect the LGBT community. In addition, it removes an individual’s right to sue in state court for any type of discrimination.

We have come so far on LGBT issues in this country, so far in a relatively short amount of time. That makes what is going on in North Carolina even more painful. My beautiful state, where I grew up hiking in the mountains and spending my summers on the beaches, is squarely on the wrong side of history. It is difficult to wake up each morning, turn on the local news and see hundreds of HB2 supporters gathering in solidarity or to see a truck with “repent or perish” only a few miles from my house.

And don’t even get me started on the Facebook posts and comments. I would be happy to never hear the words perverted or deviant again.

Here is a little glimpse into my perverted life: I wake up and get kids fed, dressed and to school while calling out spelling words and semi-successfully intervening in sibling warfare at least a half dozen times. The afternoons are even more scandalous trying to juggle band, T-ball, taekwondo, homework and still managing to get a healthy meal on the table and read a book or 10 before bedtime.

It is hard enough waking up every day wondering whether I am snack mom, searching for a lost library book or trying to figure out what the dog is throwing up (most likely the library book), but I must also pencil in time to fight for my basic human rights.

My very perceptive 10-year-old son hears the news, the talk at school, and he has questions. How do you explain intolerance and inequality to your children while trying to preserve their unadulterated innocent spirits? All they know is that they have two moms who love them beyond all reason and who can fix any boo-boo with magic cream (Neosporin) and a neon green Band-Aid.

I’m embarrassed to say that I waited years to have children, even when I desperately wanted them, for this very reason – the fear of bringing them up in a world that would judge them based on my life path. I thank my lucky stars every day that I overcame that fear because I can’t even begin to imagine a world without them in it.

So we will keep fighting: fighting for ourselves, fighting for our family,and fighting for our children’s future. Still, it is hard to not take it personally. And it is tiring. If only people realized that with every negative comment, post or discriminatory bill that gets passed, it damages a piece of our soul. If only magic cream and a neon Band-Aid could fix that.

Sherry Keen lives in Raleigh.

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