20 years after publicly shaming a young gay couple, a reformed bigot apologizes for his mistake.
You were sitting together on the curb near the entrance of Worlds of Fun. I was walking in with my church youth group. I was 17 and bigoted, taught that you were wrong and sinful. You were happy, sitting close, having fun, smooching a little, probably waiting for some friends. We walked in as a group, excited, adventurous, privileged. My friend pointed you out with a gasp of surprise and disgust. I looked over to see you together, relaxed and confident, and I said out loud, “Ewww gross.”
I don’t remember your reaction and I don’t know if you heard me. As we walked away I felt a prick of shame. Outwardly I had acted as if it was you who should be ashamed, but for over 20 years it has been me who carries this shame. I’m writing this today to apologize for my behavior.
Dear young gay couple in 1993, I am so sorry. I am so sorry I treated you as second class citizens and ruined that sweet moment you were having. I want you to know that shortly after this youth group trip I entered college and my whole world changed. My learned bias and my belief in homosexuality as a sin was flipped upside down as I was exposed to new people and new ideas. I have walked away from the religion that taught me to hate. My life is now one of empowering and advocating for young people. 20 years later I carry my shame as a reminder to check my privilege. I consider myself an ally and I hope my advocacy over the years has righted some of my wrongs.
Wherever you are I hope you’re each still sitting close with a loved one and living a wonderful life.
With a heartfelt apology,
A kid who learned the truth