It was my last year of high school, there was this guy, a pastor (Mr. Fingle?) from the US had come to give us a lecture on acceptance, loving and respecting ourselves and a few other things along those lines. I can remember what seemed to be the entire fifth form seated to the front of the auditorium, quietly listening to this confident and passionate man. I think the silence had to do with him being a stranger and a foreigner, the only white man (and very pink from the heat) in the gathering of brown and ebony. Plus no one would ever want to stand up in front of everyone and given the high chance of messing up.
I remembered feeling empowered somehow, his words excluded this contagious energy that was meant to affect me. I can’t say the same for the other kids, half of whose faces are blurs in my mind today, quiet yes, but not necessarily listening. I’ve always made a point to pay attention especially to guests like Mr. Fingle, it’s not often people around here will talk about this stuff, to address these feelings we feel, why we feel them and how we think we should react to them.
I’m afraid up to now I have been vague on what were some of the things he said, mostly because I found that a lot from that day has blanked out from me probably because one particular topic he mentioned proceeded to take up my thoughts from then on. There was this guy sitting right in front of me, let’s call him Nash. Mr. F walked over and pointed to him and asked everyone, “Okay, let’s for a minute pretend that this young man happened to be gay. Which one of you would be his friend?”
There was some uneasy shifting about, but I hardly noticed. At that moment my heart was pounding, I felt its pulse in my throat. This mattered to me very much, during that period of my life I was giving serious thought to the queerness of the LGBT community. I wanted to lift my hand. I wanted to show that I wasn’t one of those kids that would pick on, or ignore, another kid because he/she was different especially in that way. I wanted to show that I wasn’t one of the conforming masses who would openly discriminate. I was scared. I dislike to be the subject of attention and if my hand went up, heads would swivel my way. My hands remained stubbornly by my side, like a pair of lead weights.
Mr. F tutted and said how disappointed he was to see the display of apathy. To tell you the truth, I was disappointed in me, and I still am to this day but it was numbed to some level when I realized that Nash wasn’t gay at all, it was all hypothetical. I was so relieved, but I wonder if anyone there that day was gay and how they must have felt at the response, or the lack of one. This is why they must live behind a pasty facade for their safety. I hate that people can force others into hiding like that.
To be clear, I don’t see how gays affect me, or at least directly. They aren’t contagious, they don’t hate me or abuse me, in fact they are as normal as straight people only that they love differently. I don’t want to drag God Almighty into this today but I’d venture a guess that he’d be happy to see the love they share than hate any day. I think it is a beautiful endeavor to make Him smile.
We are humans, we have the right to feel any way and how we want because we all have belly buttons, meaning that we all have the right to our own opinions but it is my belief that we must have discipline ourselves, to express our disagreements in a respectful and civilized fashion. I am by no means perfect nor will I ever be but everyday I am getting closer to where I want to be. Though I have to concede, anger lets things go out of hand. I may not like you, I don’t have to, but we have to share the same space for such amount of time, let’s find a way to be peaceable about it. Agreeing to disagree; an invaluable lesson I learned from Professor Shashi. I think it would be in our best interests to exercise our ability to appreciate people for who they are rather than what they are, some might say it’s a fine line, but it’s still distinct.
By now you probably have a fairly good idea on my views on war. Another topic for another day. Why fight over something like this when we can live without incident? Why must we hurt the people we know and the ones we don’t like this? What right has any of us to spit on the outcasts because we think we are right? What is right, why do we think we are the ones who are? That can go down many different lanes and frankly I don’t want to go anywhere just about now.
During my first few months on Goodreads I’d joined a Severus Snape group and had a good online friendship with three girls, but we’ve gone our own ways now. One of them is a lesbian, that day came to mind, and I confessed to her. She was really understanding about it, and we talked for a while longer. It felt so good that get it out my system by fessing to someone. Let me just say that she is awesome, her exuberance for life was palpable and I would have loved to meet her. I know that it’s not wise to make full conclusions about people on the net but in a way it’s not that much unlike meeting a stranger in a park, except that we have no sort of contact other than goodreads. The girl deleted herself a while back, I regretted not taking her mail (we usually messaged on GR). I wonder how she’s getting on, really missed her.
The point of this post it to give you a fragment of a memory that still has an impact on me today. Eventually I’d stopped cringing from it, I moved on. I want to be the person I believe I am and it scares me that people can influence me in ways that can sway me from that path. Every day it is a constant challenge to be myself when it can be confusing to know if this or that is what I believe in, or is it what he or she wants me to believe.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Shall we agree to disagree? 😉 All I ask is that you be couth. Thank you for reading.
P.S. This is my response for today’s prompt at The Daily Post: Do you feel uncomfortable when you see someone else being embarrassed? What’s most likely to make you squirm? It’s not directly related, but it made me finally write this out.