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Dear faggot, #LoveWins

My timeline is filled with rainbow flags. The Supreme Court of the United States has just legalised equal marriage (or gay marriage – to some of you) across the country and many people are obviously in a celebratory mood.

Perhaps it’s the people I follow on social media, or are friends with, but I haven’t seen any negative comments about the results yet – other than a retweet of Donald Trump and Jeb Bush’s tweets.

“They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right … It is so ordered.”

On a day when hate has hit at least three continents – terrorist attacks in France, Kuwait and Tunisia – it was amazing that at least in one country (among some others), #LoveWins.

What I didn’t expect however was to see a post on my Facebook from someone I’ve known since I was 16 years old. He too invoked the #LoveWins hashtag, accompanying a screenshot of US President Barack Obama’s celebratory tweet on the issue.

That moment I read his post was bigger than the US Supreme Court judgement.

Twitter #LoveWins

You see, 16 years ago, this person – who was in his 20s then – told other people not to mind me because I was “just a faggot”. I’m not sure if he ever meant for me to hear it, but that comment – from someone I had then considered a friend – hurt.

I have been called many things in my life since then, so I’m pretty blase about these things, but a 16-year-old never forgets moments like those. Until today, whenever I bump into him – and I do occasionally – that word comes to my mind first as we exchange pleasantries and I walk away. I always walk away.

I don’t hold any grudges, but it has obviously affected me for many years. I once wondered, when he became a father, how he would react if one of his children were gay.

Today, seeing his post, I think his children would be okay.

And I’m glad. I don’t need an apology, and he doesn’t need my forgiveness, but today, I am reminded that there is always hope.

Flag_map_of_United_States_-American_Pride_Flag--672x372Picture credit: Texas Leftist

Whether people change culture or culture changes them, the fact is that I am certain he is not the same person now close to 40 as he was in his early 20s.

And this gives me great joy because it affirms my faith in hope. The United States has come a long way on this issue but there were dark days (and let’s face it, the battle against discrimination is far from over).

I think about the issues we are dealing in Malaysia – not just among politicians or the authorities – but also the often disappointing way in which we treat each other on a daily basis. There really appears to be a lack of respect, understanding and compassion with regards to so many issues.

But at the same time, I know so many people who are totally unlike those we have come to dislike and disagree with, who are putting so much time and effort into changing things. It can get tiring sometimes, and it’s difficult to stay motivated and energised to deal with it all.

But days like today – not just the US results but also this one small gesture from an old acquaintance – I am reminded that things can change, and they often do. We need to keep the pressure up to make sure that these changes are for the better.

If we don’t, then we have already lost the battle.

Tonight, before I head to bed, I remind myself that #LoveWins. We cannot let those operating on hate get in our way.

11.26pm Malaysian time (+8 GMT)

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