As a young gay man in Charlotte of the 1980s, I managed to snag a fake ID that was realistic enough to convince bar owners I was five years older than I actually was. The fact that I was over six feet tall came in handy, too. There’s something about height that implies age.
When Charlotte held its candlelight vigil for Orlando last year, I went by myself. As usual, I lied to family where I was going for the night and made sure I had access to a quick exit if necessary. The amount of people I saw on arrival was equally suffocating and uplifting, and slowly, I made it to the makeshift front while greeting and hugging friends and people I knew.