Gay-ism

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I read an article on yahoo today that really tore me to pieces. The story was about a young transgendered boy in Jamaica named Dwayne Jones who after dressing as a girl to a high school party, was beaten to death. The article further explained how Dwayne’s friend and roommate (who attended the party with him) was assaulted and almost raped just for associating with Dwayne.

The most heartbreaking bit?

“Dwayne’s father in the Montego Bay slum of North Gully didn’t want to talk about his son’s life or death. The teen’s family wouldn’t even claim the body, according to Dwayne’s friends.”

I just want to take a minute to reflect and express how deep my gratitude is for the life I’ve been given. Oftentimes I think we forget how fortunate the LGBT community in America is compared to other countries. That’s not to say LGBT in America are by any means treated perfectly, as we still have a lot of work to do regarding marriage equality and anti-bullying laws, but reading this story reminded me just how blessed I am to have been born into a family that chose to love me regardless of my sexuality or gender. More importantly, I was born into a time of progressive acceptance for LGBT citizens, where there are support groups, advocates, and allies around every corner of this country. 

But what I really want to think about is the importance of the T in LGBT. I think oftentimes the gay community excludes or ignores transgendered youth.  I think the thing that’s really struck me about this story is Dwayne’s courage. He chose to be himself in front of a crowd of his peers and that is something to admire. I am not transgendered and I can’t imagine how suffocatingly difficult it would be to express oneself in a body that didn’t match my spirit, but I know what it’s like to not fit in with gender norms, and it has been very difficult for me to be myself 100% of the time because of that. My deepest sympathies go towards ANYONE who understands and intimately feels that their biologically “assigned” gender does not represent what’s within. Human society has structured such a powerful dichotomy between what is “masculine” and “feminine” that it becomes otherwise “queer” when someone can’t categorize themselves as one or the other, and I think that’s a horrible shame. 

I truly resent these dichotomies. I’ve never felt like a “man” but I sure as hell don’t want to be a “woman”. I am my own person. I am my own spirit and my own being. I don’t want to be either “man” or “woman”. I’m myself. I’m comfortable in my skin (though it wouldn’t hurt to shed a few pounds). This body is my own and no one else’s, and how I perceive myself is not up for debate by anyone else. I really wish more people in the world could understand that sentiment and that fewer gay men would chose to stay misinformed on gender. I cringe every time I hear “I hate feminine gays” or “I’m only attracted to masculine guys”. It’s important, I think, to rule out those stereotypes and to keep our minds open to the possibility that anatomy and sexuality don’t always reflect our gender. Gay men should be especially open to this as owning a penis technically leaves us responsible for procreating with a uterus. Gay men misuse our provided anatomy constantly, thus we know our anatomy does not define what we are attracted to. Our anatomy does not define who we are on the inside and what we are put on this earth to do. Just think about that.  

This post had no end point or conclusion, I just think it’s important to discuss the diversity of ideas, people, and possibilities there are in the LGBT community. Some people are blessed with strong families and others are blessed with nothing but the courage to be themselves.

Dwayne Jones, wherever you are, I want to thank you for reminding me how blessed I am for my family, for my friends, for this body I grew up in, and for the many beautiful opportunities I’ve had in my life so far to be who I want to be. You may not have been loved by many, being born into a world of hatred, but I love you and you inspire me. I’d rather die being who I am, than to live trying to be something I’m not. May your soul rest in peace, friend. 

The article referred to earlier can be found here:

http://news.yahoo.com/jamaica-transgender-teen-murdered-mob-070446416.html

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Where I Am

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On the first day of kindergarden, I remember a tall black boy confronted me and insisted that I move chairs because he wanted to sit where I was sitting. Before I even had a chance to move, he shoved me out of my chair and I fell to the floor. I didn’t cry then, but I was so overwhelmed when I shared the experience with my mother later that day that I became really upset. I asked her why someone would do that to me and how someone could do something so unfair.

Instead of whining to the teacher, or encouraging me to fight back, my mom insisted I share some candy with him the next day.

What? Why would I do that? Why would I show kindness to someone who has so clearly mistreated me? I remember telling my mom “That’s dumb, candy isn’t going to make him nicer”.  She suggested that perhaps he acted the way he did because he was scared. He didn’t have any friends in the class yet, and maybe he was just afraid of being away from his family. An important lesson: we never really know why people act or feel the way they do until we walk a mile in their shoes.

Sure enough, I went in the next day with a candy bar, which I offered to him timidly, and asked if he wanted to be friends.  I remember he was so confused by what happened, he didn’t say anything to me the rest of the day. Not “Sure!”, or “Thank you!”, or “I’m sorry for pushing you”. But, the next day, he came back with a candy bar for me and he asked if I wanted to sit at his table. No sorry necessary.

Years later my dad passed along some similar wisdom which I immediately took to heart: “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him” (A quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe).

Forgiveness and empathy have become instrumental components to the development of my character over the years, but lately it’s been one of the hardest things for me to offer.

Someone I deeply care for posted something on their facebook recently, something that really made me reevaluate where I am in life. His post read “You must have an utterly forgiving spirit.” It was a really good reminder but something didn’t sit well with me. The reason being, I realized I have been building up a lot of negativity. It’s been stockpiling on my heart and it’s made me heavy; stuck and settled in a place of resentment… Resentment towards my job, my hometown, my love life, my life in general.

This week I remembered how much easier it is to sit in spaces of hurt and negativity. It’s easy to play the victim, to feel like you owe nothing to anyone, and to feel like everything is owed to you. And the unfortunate truth is sometimes you ARE the victim, and sometimes everything IS owed to you, but that doesn’t always mean you’re going to get what you deserve. Sometimes you have to forgive before someone deserves to be forgiven.

Be forgiving. Just do it. I know it’s hard but it feels better on the other side- trust me. Do what you have to do to move forward, even if it means compromising your ego and your own hurt feelings. You might not get all that you deserve but you will always find yourself in a position to discover something rewarding in the end.

This is a declaration of my choice to forgive those who have caused me pain in the past weeks and months. I’m moving forward and doing things that make me happy again. I am so grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned through these challenging months. I am stronger because of them and all the wiser. Thank you.. and even though you aren’t sorry, and you may never even understand what you’ve done- I forgive you.