We are so lucky to live in such a tolerant and progressive part of New Hampshire. Believe me, I’ve lived in other parts of the state, and Portsmouth is, hands down, the most accepting community I have ever been a part of. I thought I would take a moment to share a little positivity and love, especially in this climate of hate and fear mongering brought about by President dRUMPh

I happened to be in Market Square this weekend and I saw a gay couple holding hands – one was a white man and the other was a person of color. I was so pleased to see this public display of love, especially since the person of color was particularly black, so it made this PDA even more brave and daring.

I feel like if this happened in other communities, they would have been harassed and bullied. Not here in Portsmouth though. In fact, I turned around to go up to them to tell them how much I admire their relationship, and that they could count on me to be their ally no matter what. I gave them my “business” card  that says “friend and ally” with my contact info in case they need to call me in an emergency situation, or just to chat! They were speechless!

I even did a little investigative work and found them on Facebook and sent them a friend request. They haven’t accepted it yet, but when they do, I will have no fear or shame when I post the pictures I took of them on my wall. I convinced them to do a few poses, such as kissing and embracing, because if we live in a world where cis white people can post these photos without fear, everyone should be able to post without fear.  If anyone wants to defriend me for that, so be it.

Later that evening, I went to a restaurant and ordered my dinner at the bar (I was eating alone). There was an Asian worker behind the bar who was one of the best servers I have ever had the pleasure of dining with. They could not have been more professional and kind. Another couple at the bar, who were clearly intoxicated, asked the server where he was from. The server said “Dover,” and then the couple asked “no, where are you from?” I immediately took out my phone and started to film the interaction, as all of the racist red flags got set off.

Thank goodness I did. After the server politely and calmly informed them that his parents were Japanese American and German American, the couple made a very offensive war joke that I cannot repeat here (having to do with them being the bad guys in WWII). The server laughed and looked fine, but it was clear to me that he was fuming inside and probably very hurt and angry. I followed them to their car when they left and told them there is no room for their hatred and bigotry in our fine city of Portsmouth, and asked them never to come back. I then went back to the restaurant to ensure that the server was ok. He pretended he didn’t know what I was talking about, but having lengthy experience in dealing with victims of bullying and harassment,  I can see and identify this person’s internal pain. Wouldn’t you know, they were so overcome they sent someone else over to serve me.

We must always be aware and vigilant in our community. We must not allow any sort of hatred or intolerance. We must go out of our way, as allies, to show every single member of the LGBTQA+ community as well as people of color, that we are there for them.

I mean that literally. If you see a marginalized person, cross the street to join their side and walk along with them. If you see them seated at a Starbucks, pull up a chair. If you know where they live, just knock on the door and let them know you are a tolerant person. If you work with one, send them emails throughout the day and let them know they can rely on you.

Together, we can make Portsmouth a city where everyone feels comfortable.

Stacey Simons