The Politics, and the Damage, of Fear

We were driving along the outskirts of Amsterdam, having just had dinner with my family. The sun was setting and the golden hour was upon us. I’d asked Andy to take this route home so I could grab some photos. As we passed one of the old homes, I noticed a surprising sign on the side of the house: “Save Us, Girl Scouts”. My heart warmed to think of my hometown as being so progressive to put such a clever anti-boy scouts message up after that organization had maintained its anti-gay policies.
“Wait, pull in here,” I said to Andy. “I want to get a picture of that sign.” We entered the gravel driveway and maneuvered around a dilapidated truck. I lowered my window and tried to get a few shots, but the angle was wrong. “No, back in and get closer,” I instructed. I still couldn’t get a decent photo, so I hopped out and walked a little closer to the house. I framed the sign and snapped a few pictures. Andy was turning the car around. The gravel crackled in the background.
I looked at the house. Near the sign hung a rusty star, over-sized as I got nearer. The house, on closer inspection, was not well-kept. I read the sign again: “Save Us, Girl Scouts”. Something was wrong. My initial reading of what that meant was off. This wasn’t an anti-boy scouts message, this was a message asking the girl scouts to follow in their anti-gay wake. By this time, Andy had gotten out of the car and was walking toward me.
“Get back in the car,” I said urgently. “We have to get back in the car now.” He wasn’t moving quickly and a sliver of terror ran through my body. “Andy, now,” I repeated, raising my voice. There wasn’t time to explain. I slammed the door behind me and slumped down in the seat. “Go faster, you have to go faster,” I pleaded as he slowly, too slowly, started driving away. I thought I heard two loud cracks against the car. “They’re shooting at us, go!” I screamed.
At the end of the driveway, Andy slowed to check if it was okay to go. A car was coming and he had to stop. I saw the long end of the rifle first, then just the beard and mustache of the lower half of the man’s face. “Get out of the car,” he said to my husband. I racked my brain for an outrageous tale to explain us. I wondered if we should try to pretend we were straight. I prayed that Andy would not get out of the car and try to be a policeman. All I felt was fear – the fear of being hated – and the powerlessness against that rendered me silent. Andy started to open the door.
I gasped and sat up in bed. It was still dark out. Andy stirred a bit beside me. It had only been a dream. I threw the sheets off my sweaty body and laid back down. This is how being hated manifests itself, I thought. This is how terror infiltrates the mind. This is how the Pope, and the Boy Scouts, and Chick-fil-A, and anyone who has made subtle or not-so-subtle anti-gay remarks or actions work to break us. We can pretend to be strong, we can pretend it doesn’t matter, we can pretend that they have the right to their beliefs, but this is what happens. I’m just glad that this time it only happened in my mind.

Back to Blog
Back to Blog