Why My Heart Truly Breaks for the Orlando victims

14/06/2016 13:54

A few months ago, someone saved my life.

This 'someone' is very special and dear to me. He is incredibly kind. He is so caring. He's doing well in his full-time job.

He is also a gay man.

But when I think about him and who is, I don't think about the fact that he's gay.

My heart simply remembers the time that he gave me hope when I believed there wasn't any.

I am 27 years old. I have been happily married for the past 8 years. My husband and I have three happy and healthy young children. We have recently finished building our own home.

But for the past 20 years of my life, I have been hiding a secret. A heartbreaking secret. A secret that has left me feeling so utterly ashamed. So disgusted. So terrified. So alone.

I was sexually abused from around the ages of 6 to 11 years old. By a close relative. I was forced into silence for over two decades.

It was only 9 months ago that I disclosed my child sexual abuse for the very first time. I told my husband first and he was so incredibly supportive. I started counselling. I slowly began to tell friends. Then I took the brave step of talking about it publicly.

My heart truly breaks for the men and women who lost their lives in the Orlando shooting and also to the ones who were injured - because this kind and caring man that I know could have been one of them.

Since I've begun my healing process as a child sexual abuse survivor, I have cried so much. I have felt depressed. Angry. Resentful. Anxious. Overwhelmed. So suicidal.

And during one of those suicidal times, when I was at crisis point, this man, a person who I'd only gotten to know recently, held me as I cried.

He listened as I told him that I didn't want to live anymore. That I couldn't do it anymore. That I couldn't handle being threatened with legal action.

And you know what he did...

He opened up the bag he was holding. He took out a small, white rectangular box.

He said, "Have these. They are homemade chocolates. I bought them when I was on holiday. I'm giving them away to people whose day needs brightened. You need them more than me."

I started to cry again. But this time, the tears were happy tears. During a time when I really needed someone, he was there.

Yesterday, I saw this lovely man. A man who I'm now proud to call one of my closest friends.

And he told me, "I feel scared to go out because of what happened in Orlando."

I wanted to cry.

For so many reasons.

We live in a world where sometimes being kind and caring just doesn't feel like enough. Where you can be a good person who changes the lives of others, who gives others hope when they really need it - but where none of that really matters.

The man who shot those poor men and women at Pulse nightclub didn't care whether those victims were good people. He didn't care that they worked hard. Or that they were kind, caring, loving and compassionate people.

He didn't care that their sexual orientation and/or skin colour didn't define who they were.

And that makes me so incredibly sad and angry.

My friend told me yesterday, "Every time I see you, you brighten up my day." With that comment alone, he'd brightened up mine. He sees my passion for helping people, my passion for my Youth Work studies, he believed in me when I was struggling to believe in myself.

There is more to my friend than being gay. There is more to him than what society chooses to see. There is more to him than the judgements, the stereotypes, the prejudice, the bias.

You don't have to understand and/or agree with how someone lives their life - to love and accept them for who they are.

You don't have to be an active supporter of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights to treat others with equality.

You don't have to change your values, your views, your opinions - you just have to accept that others have different ones.

If hiding my child sexual abuse for 20 years has taught me anything, it's taught me that staying silent doesn't do you any good. That running away from who you are is a battle you can't ever win.

That you can't let the ignorance, the judgements, the fear stop you from living a life that makes you happy.

My friend and I both live in Australia and in terms of physical distance, he wasn't at risk of losing his life during the tragic events on June 12.

But that doesn't mean his life isn't still at risk. It doesn't mean that hate doesn't exist. It doesn't mean that homophobia doesn't exist. It doesn't mean that people aren't treated differently because they are 'different'.

I refuse to let the horrific actions of one man stop me from believing that there is good in the world.

I refuse to let those 49 lives lost and 53 lives injured all be in vain.

We need to make a conscious decision every day to be more kind, to be more compassionate, to be more accepting of each other.

And furthermore, we need to speak up when others are being mistreated.

We need to all play OUR part in making the world a safer, kinder, happier place where people feel free to be who they are, live as they please, and know that they are not alone.

In the words of the late Martin Luther King, Jr :
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."


Thuy Yau is a freelance writer who loves spreading positivity through her work. She is very passionate about psychology and personal development. Her writing has appeared on major Australian news sites and been discussed on radio. She is also studying to become a Youth Worker. She lives in Perth, Australia with her husband and three young children. Check out her motivational blog at Inside a Mother's Mind.