Reflections on Orlando: Why I Work for Facing History

Posted by Alexia Prichard on June 14, 2016

I’ve always been gay. I just didn’t really know it until I fell in love for the first time. That relationship included a lot of firsts. It was my first serious relationship,  my first time living with someone, and, to date, the longest relationship I've ever been in.

Orlando Facing History and Ourselves

I don’t know that my coming-out story really registers on any meter because it was so simple and
 undramatic. The only people I had to tell were my parents, and while they were disappointed and very sad at the time, they soon grew to accept reality. They never rejected me, and never barred my girlfriends from any family homes or events.

My four years at Facing History have already taught me what feels like a lifetime of lessons about identity, group dynamics, stereotypes, bias, oppression, racism, hate, war, and genocide, as well as listening, understanding, respect, tolerance, humanity, humility, dignity, responsibility, and action.

When Trayvon Martin was murdered in cold blood I was deeply hurt, but it was not my community so I felt somewhat apart from it. When the Boston Marathon bombing happened I was deeply saddened for the victims and their families, but I wasn’t there, I’m not a runner, and have only been living in Boston for a few years. 

Orlando changes the game for me. That is my community. I could have been in that club. It’s Gay Pride month all over the country. But what really affected me is something that an Orlando resident said recently on NPR. He spoke about how gay people are targeted all over, and that many of us -including me- are afraid to hold the hands of our significant others because it will out us and leave us vulnerable to attack.

I remember going out on a date with a guy many years ago. We went to a movie and when we were walking out of the theatre he took my hand. Simple gesture, but I flinched and my blood ran cold. I took sneaky glances around as we walked, worried that someone would see us. Then, of course, it dawned on me: there is nothing to see here. Straight is the normative. No one’s going to try to kill us. Right then and there I burst into tears.

Orlando brought that all back, and were it not for my four years at Facing History I might not have had the emotional tools to navigate what I’m feeling or to write this letter.

And so this is why I work at Facing History.

I am here to learn more, to keep questioning, keep pushing for change, and to do my part to help craft a world in which no gay people have to fear holding their partner’s hand.

Topics: global terrorism, LGBTQ

At Facing History and Ourselves, we value conversation—in classrooms, in our professional development for educators, and online. When you comment on Facing Today, you're engaging with our worldwide community of learners, so please take care that your contributions are constructive, civil, and advance the conversation.


Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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