For Whom the Bell Tolls

You can “ring my bell” anytime. Oh wait, just kidding. Don’t.

Queerty breaks down why the cheery tones of the Salvation Army bells downtown still make me feel like a second-class citizen.

I was getting a pita doing some late Christmas shopping for my loved ones downtown the other day when the familiar ring of the Salvation Army bell nearly stopped me in my tracks. It was drifting over from across the street. I was headed that way. The light changed, and I walked. The closer I got, the bigger the knot grew in my stomach. I think I visibly stiffened.

I don’t know if it was the way I stared at the ground or what — it’s not like I really read gay (at least not as much as I’d like to) — but as I approached, the man standing at the little red kettle literally silenced his bell. He stood solemnly, like a pallbearer at a funeral, and watched me pass.

I thought maybe it was an aberration, but twenty minutes later, when I was headed back to my car, he did it again.

I live in Cali, and there aren’t a lot of things that make me feel bad about being queer these days. A crazy cousin who likes the Westboro ‘Baptists,’ driving past the Boy Scout Headquarters, and accidentally coming across stupid poison that stupid poisonous people post online — that’s pretty much it.

And the bell ringers of the Salvation Army. Walking by, I want to say: why are you doing this? Do you hate me? Or, in line with the internal documents posted here by Queerty, do you love me — as long as I’m sexless, neutered, unmarried, and trying as hard as I can not to succumb to the sin of being a hot-blooded boob-loving, strapon wearing queer girl?

There are so many wonderful places who need our donation during the winter season. Your local homeless shelter, LGBTQIA+ center, or ASPCA are all great options — and I’m sure you have many more. But if you are a fan of love, and life-affirming relationships between people of any gender, and really, personal freedom of any type, don’t drop your change into the Salvation Army’s red kettle. Feed a stranger’s parking meter instead. Karma might thank you, and I definitely will.

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