And replaced it with the word love.
I by no means am looking to take anything away from anyone, but simply make a point.
What if every time we were to use the word gay, we actually said the word love. I know that anytime I discuss my sexuality to someone else what I'm ultimately trying to say is that I love.
Whether it's the word gay, fluid, homosexual, or whatever slang you prefer to use, I know that we're all trying to drive the same message home, which is that we love who we love.
We don't get to pick who that is, and we don't know why some of us love men, while others love women. What we do know is that we're all looking for the same things: acceptance, happiness, and love.
What if we stopped using the words straight, heterosexual, and all words that tried to neatly define sexuality because it isn't a neat little box that we all fit into, and the more we try to make people fit into something that doesn't exist the more we separate ourselves.
What if we actually stopped fighting each other, and saw past gender, race, sexuality, and all other differences that make us feel so foreign to one another?
Would we finally remove power away from those who now monopolize it? Would we finally start to let love just be love? Would we finally be able to change the world?
I know this is a very extreme thought, and one that may never see the light of day, but what if?
I can't help but think about Orlando, about all those victims, and about the fact that it truly could've been me or anyone I know.
How can we think about anything else when this is the main topic of conversation on most media outlets, and rightfully so?
I can't help but think about how short life is, and how ridiculous it is that we're still having the same conversations, yet we're left swimming in circles.
As I wrap up my 700 mile hike along the PCT, I'm forced to reflect on how different life has been when there are no comparisons. No gays, no straights, no CEOs, no McMansions, no salaries, no excess, just people enjoying life at it's simplest form.
As hikers we simply carry our backpacks, and that is all we have. Sure we're not all the "same," but we live with the same purpose.
We all have our stories, we all have our pasts, we all have questions we're looking to answer, and most importantly we all have the search for love, happiness, and acceptance guiding us as we walk mile after mile.
In the wake of this horrific event I have challenged myself to get even more out of my way, and honor every last bit of myself because we don't know when our last day is, and I refuse to go through life thinking, "I wish," so in honor of my lost brothers and sisters I did something I've always wanted to do, and dyed my hair blue.
It's something that makes me unable to hide in a crowd, which was something I desperately wanted to do while growing up, and trying to hide from my sexuality. It's something that connects me even further to the rainbow flag that represents an amazing group of people I am privileged and honored to call my family. It's something that says I will never hide from who I am deep inside, a human, not a man or woman, looking to show, spread, and feel love because that is all we have.
My heart, not my prayers and thoughts, goes out to all those who have been affected by the shootings in Orlando. Thoughts and prayers have become a soundbite used by many politicians, who don't actually seem to care. May this finally be the catalyst that creates change, so that we no longer have to have these conversations.
Never stop dancing, keep on kissing, and remember love truly is love.