In 1997 I looked into the eyes of a killer.
I was enjoying a few drinks with friends at this great little watering hole in Fort Lauderdale called Cathode Ray. I had no way of knowing that the cute guy I was looking at across the bar would very soon take his own life. But not until he had taken the lives of four other people, including fashion designer Gianni Versace.
You may remember Andrew Cunanin?
I have to say, he appeared very normal, sweet, attractive. You never would have been able to guess what he was capable of. Nor of the lives that would be lost at his hands.
I have often played that evening out in my mind.
I’m very big on eye contact, what happens the moment glances are exchanged. The knowledge that is passed, that tiny peek at the soul that it gives you. Oddly, looking over at Andrew and he looking back at me was rather benign, uneventful and disappointing.
Rather like the look I got today, 15 years later, when I glanced into the eyes of a different type of monster, albeit one that had probably not yet taken a life.
This time it was a middle aged, mini van driving, mother of three. The late 90′s bar was replaced by a well lit California Pizza Kitchen, and the only thing I was now cruising for was a good salad.
But I digress!
My Husband and I had decided to go out on a nice lunch date. I met him at the restaurant on a beautiful South Florida day when I was greeted with a lovely surprise. This is what I saw,
Now considering what my family car stickers look like,
We obviously had a difference of opinion!
What a pair!
Now at first I will admit I was rather stunned, but that quickly turned to my usual state of wonderment. Why would anyone put that on their car? Don’t they realize what a hurtful statement that is?
My Husband quickly reminded me, because they want to and yes, they do.
Okay now, before any of the “Free Speech” peeps pipe in. Please know that these images translate to “I hate Homosexuals and I support an organization that funds the very hate groups that would love nothing more than to destroy all that is sacred to me!” Plain and simple. They also translate to “We teach bigotry and intolerance to our three lovely girls.”
That, my friends is not free, It comes with a big price tag that Is being paid for by our children, my children, her children.
I don’t want to go into all the numbers here, although I love numbers, but the suicide rate for young gay people is five times higher than their heterosexual counterparts and with suicide being the third leading cause of death amongst young adults between the ages of 15-24, that is an astronomical number of LGBT kids taking their own lives.
Did you know that results show that roughly 20% of all LGBT teens have attempted suicide as compared to four percent of straight counterparts?
Obviously environment plays a huge role in these figures, the worse the environment the higher the odds, and you know what? These three girls are being raised in a very dangerous one.
Why you ask?
Well, statistics show that one out of every ten children is born gay. Having said that, her family has nearly a one third chance of having a lesbian or bi-sexual daughter.
So tell me, where will that little girl go for support and acceptance when and if her time ever comes? Her family’s views are not only (obviously) worn on their sleeves but on their mini van as well.
Do you believe they are cultivating an environment where she will feel safe to come out? So sad for her, for them, for us all.
Now as we ate lunch I have to say I was consumed with trying to figure out who the van belonged to. I spent 30 minutes, much to my Husbands disbelief, trying to find them.
I wanted to know just who they were?
What they looked like?
What made them tick?
I finally decided on who I believed it was, as mentioned earlier, a middle aged woman eating alone a few tables away. I don’t know what gave her away, it was just a feeling I got.
She glanced my way a few times, probably wondering what I was looking at. As she paid and headed towards the parking lot I held my breathe. And sure enough the slipper fit the foot, the foot hit the pedal and she off she went.
At first I felt a bit victorious. I mean out of all those people enjoying their meals I picked her. But then It suddenly dawned on me.
I have to say, she appeared very normal, sweet, attractive. You would have never guessed the pain she was capable of causing. Oddly, looking over at her and she looking back at me was rather benign, uneventful and disappointing.
Note: Now I know that for some of you, the idea of comparing a serial killer to that woman, that mother may appear to be a stretch, rather far fetched. But children are dying, they are dying unnecessary deaths because of the unbelievable pain caused by the fear and isolation that is caused by being turned away by the only love they know, the only love they need, the love of their families.
Henry Amador is the author of the DADsquared blog, where he writes about his experiences as a Gay Dad. Along with his husband, Joel, he also runs the DADsquared Facebook page, where they are devoted to building a community of loving fathers: gay, straight, black, white, and everything in between.