This Is Who I Am

Throughout human history, anyone who was not considered “normal” was set apart and either shamed or considered evil or in some way not allowed to be a part of regular society. People with epilepsy were thought to be in league with the devil. Schizophrenia was a horror for both the person who suffered from it and for society. They too were thought to be communing with Satan. An albino child born into an African tribe was either killed or banished. In some cases, a red headed girl was thought to be evil. Superstition has always played a role in human society and mostly because people didn’t understand what it was they were afraid of. Anyone who acted out of the ordinary was singled out and killed, banished or punished for who they were. Gay people have suffered this same fate.

In his book, “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz warns against making assumptions. On page sixty three he writes: “The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth.” Throughout history assumptions have been made about why people were considered different. The assumptions were believed, and it became the truth. As for illnesses like epilepsy or schizophrenia, medical science has proven their causes and banished the superstitions associated with them. The cause of albinism and a whole host of diseases and changes of physiology have been discovered and explained. Every year new discoveries are made which clear away the clouds of misunderstanding and superstitious belief. So why, in the 21st century are we still having a problem with homosexuality? Why does society still want to banish those who don’t act “normal?”

The majority, are considered to be “normal.” In American society, the majority are middle class. The poor and the ultra rich are looked at as aberrations and are either shamed or ignored, or in the case of the super rich are treated like animals in the zoo; something to look at (magazines and tv) and be fascinated by. The majority are also white and we all know how race issues play a part in today’s world. The majority are also straight.

Throughout my grade school and high school years, I had a classmate who was gay. We didn’t hang out or know each other well and I didn’t know he was gay until much later in life. When he died of AIDS, his uncle told me he was gay. I feel badly that I didn’t know that he had come back to town to live his final months with his mother. I never knew he was gay. Why? because he probably did a heroic job of hiding it. He couldn’t be his normal self because society would shame him for it. And probably his family as well. Growing up, there was a girl in our neighborhood who played with us boys everyday. She did all the things we did; climbed trees, raced bikes, shot sling shots and B B guns. It was normal. She’s a lesbian. Us boys thought it was cool to have a girl in our group. No one thought it was odd or weird. Apparently we hadn’t been indoctrinated yet.

The point I’m trying to make is simple enough. Race, gender, language, sexual orientation, etc. shouldn’t matter. We should be able to be who we are without fear. We should be able to say, “This is who I am,” without the worry of hate weighing on or backs. Maybe someday society will mature enough for that to happen. I will welcome that day.

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