There has been a LOT on my mind the past few days and I don’t know if it’s due to starting this blog and dredging up past emotions that they bring or that maybe I am starting to find my voice. So, I figured that now is a good as time as any to let loose.
Not only have I found myself getting more angry at the intolerance that I have seen and experienced around me throughout my life, I am also finding that I can no longer be silent when it comes to defending myself and my views, but rather I find myself fighting back to claim my place in this world. I always believed that everyone was entitled to their opinions as this is a free country, but over that past few years I have found that in many cases those opinions are based on prejudice, bias, so called religious “morals”, homophobic hate and intolerance rather than facts,tolerance and respect of one another as human beings.
At one point I thought that maybe it’s just me being too sensitive because of the way that I have chosen to hide to the outside world who I really am. However, after reading about the recent spate of gay bashings and the hate filled remarks by people like Gen. Pace, Focus on the Family, Mohler and Ann Coulter et al., I have come to the realization that no, I am not being too sensitive. As a matter of fact, I believe that I have been too silent, too long and because of that I withdrew into my own safe cocoon surrounded by a brick wall.
Growing up, silence was always something that I used as a defensive mechanism. I was the one who was taunted on the playground, the bus stop etc., and I learned as far back as I can remember as long as I didn’t respond to those who tried their best to torture and humiliate me, they would never know how much I cried into my pillow at night and that they succeeded in breaking me.
Although I didn’t know what it meant, I do remember the very first time I was called a faggot and how much it hurt. Not because of what was said, but the hate behind the word. Believe it or not it was during the first few days in the 2nd grade! Even then, the other kids knew something was different about me and although I went to a Catholic School, there was more hate behind that word than anything else I had felt before. Since I was too ashamed to ask anyone the meaning of the word, I kept my mouth shut, more out of fear and embarrassment than anything else. From that moment on, I knew that others had chosen to seal my fate and I thought I was helpless to do anything about it.
Although I knew that I wasn’t like other boys I still tried to blend in with the crowd although many times the crowd excluded me. It wasn’t because I was a follower it was because I wanted to be liked by the crowd. I wasn’t looking so much for anonymity as I was acceptance. I always felt like I was the square peg trying to fit into the round hole. It wasn’t until I was in 4th or 5th grade when it finally dawned on my exactly what that difference was and I knew I was going to hell because of that difference.
Back then however, different meant bad (and to the intolerant, it still means the same today), and I was in a constant struggle to be “normal”. One thing that I have learned over the years is that “normal” doesn’t really exist as a constant, rather it is fluid and it covers a broad range of definitions based upon the individual or group who happen to feel that they are the “deciders”. I look back now and I could kick myself for trying so hard to be “normal”, after all, could I honestly live with myself by emulating the very type of people that picked on me? Could I honestly bring my self to be as cruel to another human being as they were to me? Even as much as I want to be accepted by the “others”, I knew I could never be one of them because I knew how much it hurt to be treated that way and to this day, no matter how angry someone makes me I still couldn’t hurt them that way.
I have also learned that in my world, I am my own “decider” of normalcy and although I have yet to fully define what normal means to me, I have gotten closer to my definition of normal, than I ever have in my life. I guess that I depended too much on others to define it for me. It was easier to placate them rather than come up with my own definition to please myself.
The one thing that I have learned is that I hate labels and to be labeled by others. Labeling is TOO LIMITING to describe who I am as far as I am concerned. There are so many facets as to who I am that to try and assign one label (or assign one label on any one else for that matter), would only describe a very small portion of who I am. As an example here are but a few of the labels that can apply to me: adopted, gay divorced, father, grandfather, Mohawk, Scottish, disabled, college graduate, homeowner etc., etc., etc. Depending upon the person to whom I am speaking to, I can be one thing, many things or all things. They are all a part of me and I am all of them. However rolled in to one, they are what makes me who I am and together or separate, they all mean NORMAL!
Normal, to me is also being comfortable in your own skin and not having to wear a mask. It also means being true to yourself and those who surround you. Normal (IMHO) doesn’t mean to be hate filled or vindictive or judgmental towards others who you don’t consider to be normal. Sadly however, I have been finding that too many people (and groups), feel that their version of “normal” trumps all others at the expense of what could be a truly diverse and Utopian society. Can you even fathom, living in a world where everyone lives and let live. I think that John Lennon, tried to spark our minds with his song, but too many didn’t listen to the VISION of his WORDS. Others such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, John Kennedy and even Jesus all tried to point us towards that lofty goal but, people being what they are, choose to take only the parts of the messages that they feel most comfortable with and then discard the rest. Am I a dreamer; maybe, could it happen; possibly, but I can guarantee you not in my lifetime or yours unless we face an earth changing event to bring us all together. So far, 2 World Wars, and some of the worst catastrophes of Mother Nature’s Wrath haven’t done it and I can’t fathom what would at this point! Perhaps and alien invasion would finally bring us all together, LOL!
In too many instances harsh judgments, hate filled bigotry and holier than thou attitudes seem to be the battle cry of those who believe they are on the side of righteousness. They should however be shouting the virtues of unconditional love, compassion and tolerance. Wouldn’t it be much easier if those were their battle slogans rather than whose God, Supreme Being, Higher Power, Way of Life, Religion etc., was the true and only path? In plain English, how many millions more must suffer and die to prove whose dick is bigger?
I hope that I am not too unrealistic in my opinions and some may even think that I am living in a dream world. But I firmly believe in what I think and I try my best to at least practice what I preach no matter how hard it is sometimes. And yes, I have to admit that I too find myself falling into that trap which I hate and it’s a side of me that I know I have to work on. But hopefully the more that I come to terms with who and what I am, the easier it will be to practice what I preach. In the meantime all I can do is try to live my life by being honest with myself first while holding tight to my goals and ideals. Hopefully then I can learn to be more tolerant in an otherwise intolerant society without losing myself again, by keeping silent.