When news broke that Ohio State student Cole Ledford was victim of a hate crime for kissing his boyfriend last week, it was easy to feel disheartened. What was the opposite of disheartening though? Ledford's response to the attack.
I'm sorry that you called me fag. I'm sorry you hit me for no reason. I'm sorry whatever insecurities you have don't allow you to accept others for who they are. I'm sorry I threaten you.
I'm NOT sorry I'm gay. I'm proud to be this way. I'm proud to be confident enough to love who I love and to love me. I'm proud to have friends and family that love me regardless of me. Honestly, I'm not sorry.
And as stellar as his comeback is, the really great, inspiring thing about the whole story is the overwhelming support he and his boyfriend have encountered.
Because if no one cares, no one shares. But that's so not the case here. Instead of getting lost in the Twitterverse (the typical life of a tweet is only 18 minutes), that original message has been retweeted over 35,000 times and favorited over 68,000 times since Thursday night. Ledford has gained thousands of new followers and lent his support to the anti-bullying organization Love is Louder.
How inspiring is it to see 1) someone becoming famous for simply being a good, compassionate person and 2) the worldwide support for LGBT rights and the idea that love is greater than hate?
So if anyone tries to tell you that Twitter is useless, well, now you know they're lying.
This story is a great example of how general public opinion is slowly changing towards supporting LGBT rights in America, particularly in terms of marriage. In the 10 years since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, over 30 states plus the District of Columbia have followed suit. Currently, 55 percent of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal, compared to 27 percent in 1996.
Over the past few years, anti-bullying campaigns like It Gets Better have increased awareness of the struggles LGBT youth face. Pride celebrations are becoming city staples. And you know you've got something when major corporations are adding their support (and not in a money-grubbing Pierce Hawthorne kind of way). Lately, we're even seeing commercials featuring gay couples, sometimes with multi-racial adopted children (this one's for Canadian audiences, but still adorable).
But at the most basic level, that's all just policy and marketing. It's amazing to see how this support is playing out in real life with real people through Ledford's story.
Images: Cole Ledford/Twitter