In 1978 I left school and started work for a government department in downtown Auckland, New Zealand. To say I was naive would be an understatement but I was working with lovely people of all ages and ethnicity.
One of those was a lovely lady called Taina.
Taina had a deep voice and was often mistaken for a male by people who called in. I didn't think anything of that as I had been mistaken for a boy by my priest during confession once upon a time when I still did such things.
Then one day one of the older men from one of the other sections on our floor came over to ask wher "he" was. I didn't know who he was referring to until one of the other workers said that Taina wasn't in that day.
To say I was confused would be an understatement. I asked Taina why some people referred to her as "he" and what that was all about and she carefully explained that she had been born a "he" but had undergone a sex change years earlier. She also explained some of the bull shit that went along with that.
Since she had started work as a male, once she underwent her surgery, if she chose to go by her new name and identity she would lose all seniority and pay rises that she had accrued til that time and would be starting from the bottom.
To add insult to injury there was also the issue of the bathrooms.
The ladies didn't want her to use the ladies bathroom and she didn't want to use the men's one so every time she needed to go she had to go down three floors and exit the building to use a public.
Needless to say this made me very angry and that is how I ended up in my first ever gay right's protest march - yelling "What do we want ? Gay right's ! When do we want them? Now!" . Right at the front. We even made the 10 0'clock news and were on the telly - much to my father's disgust.
And here we are, in 2016, still calling for the same things.
Still caring who is having sex with who ( or whom, I'm never sure) when all that matters is that people are loving people. Why do we care what parts of them they rub against each other when love is all that is being made?
So here we are, in 2016, grieving for those that were killed at the nightclub in Orlando.
Why? Because some one couldn't cope with there being people who love other people being affectionate out in public.
Do you know what I would do in that situation - look away.
Except love doesn't offend me.
Violence offends me.
Homophobia offends me.
People not having equal rights offends me.
But no, love doesn't offend me at all.
To all those who are grieving for those young lives that were lost ( and that's all of us who are not offended by love , right?) my heart goes out to you. Let's turn towards each other and hold each other and spread more love and most of all let us send love to those who hate for they are the ones who need it the most.