On Fear

I've been called a lot of things since I've started this whole journey. Some of them have been good, a lot of them have been bad. Some of them are true, most of them are lies. But there's one thing I that I've been called that I feel like I need to set the record straight on. 
Some people, typically in DM's from locked or non-zoo accounts have made the mistake of calling me "fearless". But I'm not fearless by any means.
Truth be told, I'm terrified. 
Some days I wake up and immediately close off all means of communication, sure that while I slept my face was somehow leaked into the general public. Slowly, over the course of an hour so I open up my apps from most private to least, reassuring myself each time that it's probably okay, and that I would have gotten at least one message from someone if I was doxxed. 
Sometimes, a tweet of mine, or of the magazine's will do really well. That makes me happy, seeing our message spreading, hopefully giving people a little bit of joy in their day. Other times, a tweet of mine or the magazine's does a little too well, and for the next few days I jump every time there's a noise at the door I don't recognize. 
In my head, I know all the DM's saying they're going to "hack me" or "kill me" or whatever between those two points most likely come from a 14 year old trying to seem edgy. Most of the time, I laugh it off.
I've been told by strangers that don't know me that I live in every state, every country, or that my name is this or that. 99% of the time, they're way off base. Sometimes they're not. I know it's just a random guess, and that a broken clock is right twice a day. But that doesn't make it feel any less horrible to see a message from someone threatening you where they managed to just happen to get it right.
I wish I was fearless. But I'm not really. I have a life that I want to protect, and I'm so scared of losing it. I have a job I actually really like. I have friends who have been in my life for ages. I have two amazing partners who I would do anything for. I'm so scared that one day I could lose all of that.
There are some days where I think about trying to hand the magazine off to someone else, to close off my accounts, delete everything and just stop. 
I know this is all a lot, but I want to talk about it because I think as zoos this is a fear that all of us face, to some degree or another. I think it's disingenuous to talk about the good without the bad. I wish we didn't have to feel this way. I wish we could just be out and open and live our lives and love our partners. And I honestly think one day we'll get there. But for now, we've got to live with the fear. 
If you're someone that has a public account, especially if you're someone that does activism, I know want you to know that you're incredible. To fight these feelings and still want to try and create something positive, it's so hard. 
And even if you're someone who doesn't engage with the community at all. Someone that just likes the content and hangs out in the chats, you're amazing too. It takes a lot of courage to even face the fact that you're animal attracted in a world with so much vitreol against the idea that you can love someone with four legs. It's easy to end up self doubting and self hating. If you managed to overcome that, that's amazing in its own right. 
If you're reading this at all. I hope you're giving yourself credit. That you're commending yourself for your bravery. Because I do. I can't overstate this enough. From the people who are making the podcasts to the people who are just listening to them, I have so much respect for all of you. For fighting the fear, and trying to make the world better. 
Thank you so much to my friends, who I've leaned on when it got to be a little too much. I hope all of you reading this have friends of your own. Because we can't always deal with everything on our own.
One thing that helps me when I'm feeling like this is to remember that it's not just zoos that have to tackle this either. There are plenty of people in the world that are afraid of others finding out about their sexualities, or even just their gender. If you're a gay man living in Uganda, I can't even imagine the fear that you felt when all of your parliament cheered and danced while resigning a bill to criminalize your existence. But, there are other places in the world where queer people have been able to overcome that fear mostly in its entirety. If you're a gay man in San Fransico, for instance, outside of potentially bad parents you have no real reason to need to fear at all. There are queer human beings that are alive today that grew up in situations where their parents were accepting of them growing up, they faced little to no bullying, grew up and dealt with no discrimination on a social level, and could be with the people that they wanted to be with in every way anyone cared to be. That's amazing. It gives me so much hope knowing that it's possible to create that kind of world for people outside of the gender and sexuality norms.
I want to make the world a better place for people like me. I want to try and change the way people see us. I want to let zoos who are struggling know that it's okay to love who they love. And I'm willing to struggle against that fear for as long as it takes to try and make it happen. All I hope is that you're willing to try too. Together, we can make create a world where people don't need to be afraid. 
Thank you for reading.
Article written by Tarro (September 2023)
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