What follows is a powerful and true story shared by a fan on our Facebook Page. Although not directly pertaining to our message of marriage equality, Cliff’s story speaks to a greater message of love & acceptance that is important to share. Published with permission.
A skinhead until 10 years ago, I was the epitome of walking, talking hatred. Hatred of everything, politics, government, any one different, gays and lesbians alike. I ate, slept, walked, talked, and advertised my hatred for everything. Often, I led meetings of over 100 people to teach hate, intolerance & how to be violent more efficiently. Nobody knows better than I do the effect of hate and intolerance, because I was the one creating it.
I grew up with a distant mother and an abusive father, often beaten with whatever the nearest object to him. This led me down roads of rejection, of sorrow. I would hide in bushes across the street from my house memorizing his schedule, just so i had enough time to get in, grab food & get out. Soon, I fell in with a group of skinheads who played in on my need for acceptance & I was elated to belong. From there, intolerance and anger within myself manifested in my hands, beginning my life of violence which continued until I was 20. By 13 I was so proven through violence and propaganda, I was allowed to start my own crew. I’ve had 33 of my closest friends die in fights, a lot of which I was in. I was made to watch as the swastika that was tattooed on my friends back – his whole back – was removed with razor blades and curling irons then watched him bleed to death. For years, I was the epitome of hate, the personification of anger itself. My life was an intense one.
Today, Love is my greatest ally – showing me that there’s is beauty everywhere I look. The tattoo across my fingers I did myself to remind me everytime I clinched my fists that love was the answer – not violence.
Since then, I’ve spent more than ten years overcoming what was taught to me, everything I believed in, everything I knew in life. I learned that fear and hatred are no way to promote unity as Americans or as a world.
What boggles my mind is how I continually get congratulations, and pats on the back for letting myself learn to love because as I’ve been told a million times plus, love is the strongest thing in the universe. Well if love is the strongest thing in the universe why am I – a person who has hurt so many is allowed to show my love, yet such a large population of men and women who have never hurt anyone are prohibited from doing so?
Any system who will love a man who epitomized hate yet won’t let one man show his love for another needs to take a look at my life, because my life was the personification of a system that teaches intolerance to our children by having these laws in place.
The gay community has some of the strongest people I’ve ever known – and I say we need to treat them as equal Americans. It’s easy to say it isn’t hate when you truly don’t know what hate is, I know exactly what hate is and double standards are just a nice way of separating America from within.