Archive for the ‘ social commentary ’ Category

On love and equality

Tonight I saw Tegan and Sara perform live for the second time in my life. The first time I saw them was in 2010, when I was crazy-obsessed with them (see posts here and here and here *face palm*). Three years later, I can honestly say the obsession has died down a little and has instead evolved into a strong appreciation and admiration for these out lesbian identical twins.

I was pretty deep in the closet back in 2009 when I first started listening to Tegan and Sara. I had been struggling to come to terms with my sexuality, especially with what it meant in relation to my conservative, religious upbringing. At the time, there was no one I trusted enough to talk about it with, no one who I thought would understand and who wouldn’t condemn me and see me as a freak. When I realised, whilst listening to the album The Con, that the sentiments of love and heartache that these women were singing about were directed at other women, I suddenly felt like I was not alone. I slowly began to realise that it was ok, there wasn’t anything wrong with me, I didn’t have to be afraid or ashamed about how I felt or who I was.

Four years later..

As I sit in my chair at the Sydney Opera House, watching the heartache on Sara’s face and listening to the struggle in her voice as she sings the lyrics of Now I’m All Messed Up, especially the part when she yells “go” to this person she is in a relationship with in the song when it is clear that what she really wants to say is “please stay”, I am struck by the knowledge that although our hearts may beat for the same-sex, our love is just like any other’s. We feel the same excitement and exhilaration of that first kiss, the same joy and ecstasy of falling in love, and the same pain and utter desolation of having our hearts broken. For any person who has ever been in a heterosexual relationship, we have felt that same love.

Having said that, Australia is still one of the places in the world that has not legalised same-sex marriage. Some people may ask why marriage equality is such a big deal. Why can’t we just be content to do what we want in our own homes? Why is it so important for our marriages to be treated in the same way that heterosexual couples’ marriages are treated? The reason is that the government’s stance on marriage equality says a lot about its, and our society’s, attitude towards gay people, as well as having real-life, practical repercussions on our lives. I hope that in time, these attitudes will slowly start to change and that people will start to realise that no matter what your sexuality, we all live and breathe that same love, as miraculous and heartbreaking as it is.

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On arguments against gay marriage and why they have no reasonable grounds

Note: I wrote this post largely as a response to all the ridiculous and contradictory comments I have watched and read recently, which have been made by our politicians. I was also inspired by the support given by numerous members within the community. The following post is not intended to offend anyone. I only ask that those who oppose gay marriage, especially those who have signed petitions against it, read this post with an open mind. Any comments or opinions from either side of the fence are welcome.

1. Marriage has traditionally always been defined as being between a man and a woman

It has also been in Australia’s historical tradition to deny women the right to vote and to hold property, to discriminate against members of certain races, and to discriminate and limit the rights of Indigenous Australians. It was not so long ago that interracial couples were not allowed to marry; the idea that this was once reality seems ridiculous to us now and thank goodness this tradition has changed.. think of all the beautiful interracial babies! This argument is in reality an argument against change and progress. Laws should be made to benefit the current and future needs of society, not to preserve the past. Furthermore, it was only in 2004, not too long ago it seems, that the 1961 Marriage Act was changed, under the Howard government, to explicitly state that a union between two women or two men does not constitute a marriage.

2. Why do same-sex couples need to marry when they can have civil unions?

Although civil unions give the illusion of equality, having a separate term applied for couples of the same sex fosters the notion of ‘separate but equal’. This legal doctrine was used to justify the segregation of blacks from whites in America in the 60s. Gay people are equal contributors to society; we pay our taxes, we have jobs just like any other straight person, we contribute to the economy, we are carers, nurses, teachers, bankers, doctors.. I could continue ad infinitum.. why should we not have access to the same rights that every other contributing member of society has? Why do we get treated as second-class citizens? We are denied the right to marry but are required to settle for something that most would consider to be less than. The term ‘marriage’ is universally recognised by the world, whereas ‘civil union’ is ambiguous at best, especially when moving between states, yet alone countries. Providing proof of a lifelong commitment to each other as part of a civil union can be a lot more difficult then proving that you are legally married. This is outright discrimination masquerading as equality.

To state this argument is like saying, “Well Ted here is Caucasian so he gets to have an actual toy car, whilst Andrew over there is Asian so he can just have a very realistic cut-out drawing of the car..  but Andrew should really just be grateful that he gets anything at all”. If marriage is really no better than civil unions, then why aren’t most straight couples happy to settle for a civil union rather than marriage? The availability of civil unions is easy to promote for someone who has full legal rights to marry; how can you possibly justify this argument to someone who doesn’t? Nobody wants to be treated as a second-class citizen. To those who would support this argument, answer a simple question for me… How would you feel if you weren’t allowed to legally marry the person you loved and wanted to spend the rest of your life with? Would you be happy to settle for something less?

3. The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination

And of course, since our society is governed by religion, gays should not be allowed to marry as this will encourage the false belief that it is “OK” to be gay …. wait… hang on….

I strongly believe in the right to religious freedom. We live in a multicultural society, with people from all sorts of backgrounds and who hold all sorts of religious beliefs. Having said that, Australia is a secular society, which it seems, some people have failed to recognise and accept. Individuals and communities have the right to believe whatever they will, but they do not have the right to impose those beliefs on the wider community, let alone on the governance of a nation, as is clearly reflected in this little thing called the separation of church and state… I dunno, you may have heard of it…

Once again, I strongly believe in the right to religious freedom. I am not a fan of organised religion and I have no desire to practice it… so I don’t. I don’t go to church, I don’t pray, and I don’t read the bible. But the other thing I don’t do is I don’t tell people what they can and cannot do as part of their religion. I don’t sign petitions for the government to limit the freedom that religious people have. And do you know why? Because at the end of the day, what you do within the confines of your community has nothing to do with me and I know that it is not my place. I may not always agree with what some Christians believe, but as long as what they believe does not have any direct impact on me (in other words, Christians are not telling me what to do with my life), then frankly, I don’t give a shit! Why can’t some Christians give gays the same amount of respect?

4. Gay marriage is a threat to the sanctity of marriage

I really don’t understand how one couple’s marriage effects another’s? Much like how I don’t understand, to quote Wanda Sykes, “people all up in arms over shit that don’t effect them”.

What does the ‘sanctity’ of marriage even mean? As a former christian, I understand the term ‘sanctity’ to refer to being ‘holy’ or ‘sacred’. Therefore, I would understand the sanctity of marriage to be referring to that in which a marriage between two people is considered holy, sacred, or set apart. Marriage is not like any other relationship. Marriage is special. Marriage is a blessing. I fundamentally believe these things. I ask then, what is it about two women or two men that makes them incapable, or less capable, of making a lifelong commitment to one another? Which do you think is a bigger threat to the sanctity of marriage.. love between two people of the same-sex… or adultery? It’s a tough one, I know…

Perhaps those of the Christian faith would also argue that the sanctity of marriage refers to God imparting his blessing upon the union. Since some Christians (and I say some because not all Christians/Catholics believe this) believe God is vehemently against same-sex relationships, marriage between two people of the same-sex would defy God’s “design” of marriage and he would therefore refuse to give his blessing to such a union. Nevertheless, people of any religious belief, even no belief, are allowed to get married, so long as the marriage is between a man and a woman. Naturally, non-christians would have a celebrant in place of a minister or priest, yet they still have the right to be legally married. Marriage in our society, once again, a secular society, no longer requires the blessing of God. Why then, should atheists have the right to marry, for example, when gays do not? This is a double-standard.

5. The purpose of marriage is to have children. Same-sex couples cannot biologically procreate so they should not have the right to marry.

I understand this argument to be based on the part of the Bible in which God commands Adam and Eve to fill the earth with their offspring. One of the purposes of marriage, as believed by Christians, is extrapolated from this command. The fact is though that the world is no longer underpopulated – it is the opposite! The relevancy of this command in today’s society is therefore lost.

Furthermore, the logical conclusion of this argument is not just for gays, but for all infertile couples in general, yet the law does not state that one must be willing and physically able to have children in order to be married. Several couples who do not wish to have children still choose to get married – fortunately, they have that right. On the flip side, several couples who do not wish to get married still end up having children. Clearly, having children is not a prerequisite for marriage and vice versa.

6. Gay marriage is a threat to children and families; children develop best when they have a mother and a father.

The idea that a man and woman make better parents than two men or two women, just because of the fact that they are a man and a woman, is a simplistic notion that does not have any empirical grounds. Both the American and the Australian Psychological Associations agree that children raised by same-sex couples are no worse off than children raised by heterosexual couples. Belonging to a certain gender does not make one a better parent. A child could have an abusive or alcoholic mother or father, yet if the logical conclusion of this argument were followed, they would be deemed to be better off than a child raised by two loving, supportive mothers or fathers. This is obviously not true. I think many would agree that it is the quality of love and support given by parents that make a child better off, rather than something as superficial as their parents’ gender. The concept of family is often also more than just blood. Just because a child has two mothers or two fathers, it does not mean that they cannot have positive role models of the other respective sex in their life.

Furthermore, having a father and a mother does not make a family immune to the consequences of divorce. Children of divorce often experience significant stress and trauma. It follows then, that a marriage between a man and woman does not necessarily mean that children born of such a union will be better off then children of same-sex parents. And what about single parents? If this argument is to be sustained, shouldn’t there then be a law against single-parenting and divorce?

Linked to this is the argument that children with same-sex parents usually experience a great deal of distress as a result of bullying. The solution to this problem is not to refuse same-sex couples the right to marry, but to make our society more accepting and less discriminatory. Denying same-sex couples the right to marry indirectly teaches children that it is OK to bully kids who come from same-sex parent families. Legalising gay marriage would be an important step towards teaching society that Carol’s Mum and Dad are no better parents than Casey’s Mums or David’s Dads and that kids from heterosexual families have no right to bully kids from same-sex families.

7. Slippery slope argument. “If gays are allowed to marry, next thing they’ll be pushing for pedophilia and bestiality to be legalised!”

Proponents of this argument are forgetting one thing… a relationship between two consenting adults is not the same as a relationship between an adult and a child or an animal. To place homosexuality in the same category as pedophilia and bestiality is extremely offensive and ignorant. I don’t think it is necessary to say anything further on this.

8. If gay marriage is legalised, priests and ministers will be put in an awkward position where they will be forced to solemnise marriages against their will.
Not true, as demonstrated by the recent motion passed by the NSW Legislative Council.

So.. Thoughts?

On honesty and acceptance

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Recently, I have only been in the habit of blogging about something that I believe is worth saying. I am not someone who wears their heart on their sleeve. Honestly though, I am exhausted from the effort of keeping everything inside and ignoring the giant elephant in the room. I’ve decided that I would like things to be out in the open.

I have never before felt the urge to make such a public declaration as I am making now, and as much as I don’t believe in labels, I feel it is important for me to admit to you that I am a gay woman and have suspected this fact to be true for several years, although it has only been within the last two years that I have had the courage to admit this to myself and to those close to me. This may come as a shock to some of you, but hopefully to others it will not. And no, one of my friends did not think it would be amusing to hack into my account and play a practical joke on me. In fact, I feel this very act diminishes and belittles the act of coming out for those of us who eventually find the courage and willpower to do so.

Realizing you are gay has many significant impacts on a person’s life. For me, it meant a constant fear that my friends and family would learn the truth and therefore a persistent need to hide it at all costs; it meant a pervasive feeling of shame and guilt, which would often lead to depression; it meant the end of a lot of things that I had believed to be true; it meant the loss of several friendships and an increased sense of loneliness.

Although some things have gotten better since I came out to a few of my friends and family, I must admit that there are a lot of issues that I am still dealing with, as much as I try to avoid thinking about them. Despite no longer being as fearful of people finding out, I often still experience the fear that I will never be accepted by my family and friends. Being told to keep it a secret for the sake of my parents’ reputation has not helped, and has only served to reinforce this fear and belief that I should be ashamed of who I am and that, by being truthful about it, I will bring shame to my family.

Often, I will also still feel like an outcast, especially when I am around a group of Christians, which is why I try to avoid being in this situation whenever possible, as much as I do love these people as individuals and know that this is not their intention. For me, being gay also means that I am constantly questioning whether I will ever be able to live a “normal” life – marriage, weddings, babies – everything most girls dream of. Although society has generally become more accepting in this respect, I think we still have some way to go before we can say that you and I are treated and considered equally and fairly as human beings.

I want to be able to walk down the street and hold my head high, knowing full well that I am a smart, funny, talented, and decent human being, without having to put myself down for the fact that I also happen to be gay. I want to be able to introduce my friends and family to my future-partner, if I am ever so fortunate as to have one, and to have them see her for who she is as a person and not just for her anatomy. I want for my friends and family to someday love and acknowledge me because of who I am, rather than loving me despite it. I want to be able to rejoice and take pride in myself, rather than be ashamed and depressed about it. Although I know that change doesn’t occur overnight, discovering the latent homophobia that is still prevalent within my own heart has made me realise that writing to you now is an important step towards this direction. Until I can say to myself, “Yes, I am gay, so what?”, how can I expect anyone else to do the same.

Chances are, I will not be the only person you know or will meet in your life that identifies as being gay or somewhere along the queer spectrum. I pray that you do not simply take the stand point that your religion or upbringing requires you to take, but that you are able to see our humanity and to sympathize with us as fellow human beings. I humbly ask your help in this because I am only human, and as hard as I try to hold my head above water, there are times where I find myself alone and drowning and in need of someone to tell me that they love me and support me and that everything is going to be ok.

Someone once wrote that love is the one thing that cuts across all our realities; it is the bridge between all our differences. I can only hope that we would one day be willing to walk across it.

Movie Review: Let Me In

(warning: may contain spoilers)

I’m not a big fan of horror movies. Actually, that’s an understatement. I hate, hate, HATE horror movies. I never watch them because let’s be honest, I’m a wimp who has an overactive imagination and a chronic difficulty in falling asleep… and I don’t need to be watching horror films to exacerbate either of these things.

Having said that, this movie is so much more than a typical horror, or even vampire, film. In fact, I would classify it more as a gothic romance than a horror film; somewhat reminiscent of Pan’s Labyrinth for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely dark and twisted. I mean, you wouldn’t take your children to go see it. But then it’s also beautiful and romantic and moving at the same time, mostly because of the love story between Abbey, the vampire girl, and Owen, the wimpy, bullied boy. Both share a dark side – Abbey with the whole brutal killer thing and Owen because he’s bullied so much to the extent that he wants to kill and pour out his hate and anger on someone else – and I think that’s why they share this sudden and strong connection when they first meet.

There are so many things to love about this film (the cinematography was amazing, the music score was hauntingly beautiful, and the acting was superb), but what I loved most about it was the humanity of, who most people would consider to be the villain of the story, the vampire-girl, Abbey, and the relationships she has with her ‘Father’ and with Owen. On the one hand, she’s a cold-blooded killer for sure, but when we are shown that she kills not because she finds pleasure in it, but because she’s hungry, because she’ll die without it, we also come to understand and sympathise with her character and the position she is placed in.

The story between Abbey and her ‘Father’ is especially moving when we see how much he is willing to sacrifice to keep her alive – to the extent that he pours acid on his face to disfigure himself so that, when he is caught trying to kill someone, the police cannot trace the murders back to Abbey, and when he gives himself to her so that she can suck his blood before he, as a result, plummets to his death. If that is not an unconditional and self-sacrificing love, I don’t know what is.

The dark and yet, innocent love story between Abbey and Owen also showcases the humanity of these characters. When you juxtapose the brutal and violent murder scenes with the silent, creeping beauty of the scenes she has with Owen (this scene, for example), you see that Abbey is so much more than just a murderous villain. When we see how Owen and Abbey interact with one another how they care for each other, and love each other despite the darkness within themselves, we really get a taste of what it means to love someone unconditionally.

And what I loved most about Owen’s character was his innocence and the purity of his heart; the fact that he is able to look past the whole “she’s a vampire who kills people and sucks their blood” thing and look into her soul and see that she really is good inside – that is admirable, my friend.

What I loved about this movie was how it brought up questions like, what is evil and what is good? What does love look like? Can someone who does ‘evil’ things also have the ability to love and show kindness and self-sacrifice? Who is/are the villain(s) and who is/are the victim(s) in the story? The way I see it, although Abbey and her ‘Father’ had probably killed hundreds of people in violent and brutal ways, the ‘Father’ did it out of love, and Abbey did it out of the need to survive. The bullies, on the other hand, tortured and attempted to kill Owen out of pleasure, out of the desire to inflict suffering on another person. So who, in the end, is really evil? What does this even mean? Let Me In goes far and beyond the typical black and white story line of good vs. evil and allows the viewer to deal with all the grey areas, which really don’t have any clear cut answers. It really just teaches us to question any simplistic, preconceived notions that we hold and to reassess and consider that maybe the answers to such questions aren’t always as clear-cut.

Although Let Me In may be considered a dark and disturbing tale with more than a few scary, gruesome scenes… for me, it was really a story about unconditional love, self-sacrifice and loyalty; the agony of growing up and being different; and the innocence and purity of young love.

Although I haven’t seen the Swedish original, I thought Matt Reeves did a great job, despite the fact that a lot of the cinematography and scenes (apparently) are pretty much copies of the original. The film was still a visual feast to watch. I mean, when you have really good cinematography already, how are you supposed to firstly, make a remake of such a good film, and secondly, make it even better?!? It’s just impossible I think. So I’m sympathetic to Mr Reeves there. I enjoyed the film and I thought the storyline was original and the cinematography visually pleasing enough that I really didn’t care whether the film was “original” or not. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and to that I say, amen – all art is merely inspiration in the end.

Watch the trailer here.

reflections on hipster culture

You’ve seen them around. You might even know someone who is one. You might even BE one!…. I’m talking about hipsters, people. Hipsters are taking over the freaking world!

What is a hipster you ask? These days you can probably spot a hipster everywhere you turn, but chances are, if you’re not a part of the subculture, you probably had no idea that there was even a term to describe these people. Well, it’s time for some education in Hipsterdom!

Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.

Although “hipsterism” is really a state of mind,it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses.

Both hipster men and women sport similar androgynous hair styles that include combinations of messy shag cuts and asymmetric side-swept bangs. Such styles are often associated with the work of creative stylists at urban salons, and are usually too “edgy” for the culturally-sheltered mainstream consumer. The “effortless cool” urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads which cater towards the hipster demographic.

Despite misconceptions based on their aesthetic tastes, hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees in maths and sciences, which also require certain creative analytical thinking abilities. Consequently many hipsters tend to have jobs in the music, art, and fashion industries. It is a myth that most hipsters are unemployed and live off of their parent’s trust funds.

Hipsters shun mainstream societal conventions that apply to dating preferences and traditional “rules” of physical attraction. It is part of the hipster central dogma not to be influenced by mainsream advertising and media, which tends to only promote ethnocentric ideals of beauty. The concepts of androgyny and feminism have influenced hipster culture, where hipster men are often as thin as the women they date. The muscular and athletic all-American male ideal is not seen as attractive by confident and culturally-empowered hipster women who instead view them as symbols of male oppression, sexism, and misogyny. Likewise, culturally-vapid sorority-type girls with fake blond hair, overly tanned skin, and “Britney Spears tube-tops” are not seen as attractive by cultured hipster males who instead see them as symbols of female insecurity, low self-esteem, and lack of cultural intelligence and independent thinking. Hipsters are also very racially open-minded, and the greatest number of interracial couples in any urban environment are typically found within the hipster subculture.

Although hipsters are technically conformists within their own subculture, in comparison to the much larger mainstream mass, they are pioneers and leaders of the latest cultural trends and ideals. For example, the surge of jeans made to look old and worn (i.e. “distressed”), that have become prevalent at stores such as The Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Hollister, were originally paraded by hipsters who shopped in thrift stores years before such clothing items were mass produced and sold to the mainstream consumer. The true irony here is that many of the detractors of hipster culture are in fact unknowingly following a path that hipsters have carved out years before them. This phenomena also applies to music as well, as many bands have become successful and known to mainstream audiences only because hipsters first found and listened to them as early-adopters of new culture. Once certain concepts of fashion and music have reached mainstream audiences, hipsters move on to something new and improved.

Because of the rise of various online photo-blog and social networking sites, insights into urban hipster culture is reaching sheltered suburban audiences at an exponential rate. Cultural “norms” have been deconstructed by hipster culture as a whole. Hipsterism is often dismissed as just an image thing by some, but the culture as a whole is effecting changes in society, leading to feelings of insecurity and resentment in people who are no longer a part of the cultural ruling class.

(via urbandictionary.com)

Like a lot of things these days however, definitions are starting to get blurred, especially as the mainstream starts to adopt hipster culture. Just because someone adopts hipster fashion sense, does that make them a hipster? If being a hipster emanates originality and individuality, does that mean a person who conforms to hipster tastes in clothes, music, hair, etc, is not in fact being original?

In hindsight, I realised that I started along the path towards Hipsterdom long before I even knew what a hipster was, and that’s oddly comforting. If I’m going to be a stereotype, I’d rather become one, than follow one. I’m not so bothered about the whole being original thing. I know I’m not original. I’d be deluded to think that I was, and not to mention lonely. I think it’s nice to feel like you belong somewhere; that you’re a part of a particular culture. But I think you can still be an individual even though you adhere to certain cultural norms.

I recently began to fear for the survival of hipsterdom when I realised that the hipster aesthetic, particularly in terms of fashion sensibilities, is growing in popularity. If everybody starts to look like a hipster, would the hipster then cease to exist?! I’m comforted to think, however, that that probably won’t be the case. As the author of that post from urbandictionary.com said, hipsters will probably just move on to something else, which is a shame, because I like the hipster aesthetic as it is right now.

Anyhow, this post was mostly in response to my brother calling me a goth multiple times in the past few weeks. I am not, nor do I look like, a goth. Let’s try and be a little more original in the choice of stereotypes we use to label our friends and family shall we? There’s a whole world of differentness out there to choose from!

on prejudice and stereotypes and flying in the face of all that

Whip It is probably one of my favourite movies right now. It features great directing by Drew Barrymore, a rocking soundtrack, hilarious and talented actors and actresses, roller derby! (aka girls beating the crap out of each other), female empowerment and whatnot, and a whole lot of heart.

This movie is so close to my heart because I feel like I’m at a stage in my life where I can relate so much to the character of Bliss (played by Ellen Page. Yes, yes, I know some of you know that I’m a big fan of her work.. but this goes soo way beyond my love and admiration for her). I guess it’s the whole parental pressure and disappointment, and finding out where you belong and who you are as a person, knowing that you don’t quite fit in with your parents’ and right-wing society’s notions of what a girl is supposed to be like; like a triangle being forced into a square-shaped hole.

The whole idea of being judged by the way that you look was brought to my mind a few times today. I painted my nails black the other day, and when the male half of the (pa)rental squad noticed, concerns that I was hanging out with “the wrong crowd” were brought to the surface – as if I had joined some kind of cult or was out doing drugs and getting drunk and having sex – all because I had recently cut my hair short and gotten a piercing and dyed my hair and painted my nails and was talking about not going to church anymore. And when my dad saw Ruby Rose on TV today, he made some sort of comment about the way she looked and that she must be a bad person or something along those lines. It’s this kind of thinking that I vilely detest. That a person can be judged as being “a bad person” just because of their haircut or the way they dress or what they have on their skin. And you know what, it hurts to think of what my dad thinks about me and how he sees me, but as a matter of fact, I am not sorry for the way I choose to look, and I am proud that my appearance sends a message out to the world. It says, “You can judge me all you want, but I don’t give a shit, because my self worth and my identity and who I am as a person are not dependent on what you think and how you see me.”

on differentness and acceptance

Now we look up into the eyes of bullies breaking backs. They seem so very tough (it’s a lie, it’s a lie), they seem so very scared of us. I look into the mirror for evil that just does not exist. I don’t see what they see (tell them that, tell them that).

— from I Was Married by Tegan and Sara

Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong? Like there was something strange or unusual about you? I’m inclined to believe that many people have never felt this way, but at the same time, I think that that might just be naivety. Perhaps everyone feels a sense of differentness to some extent.

Differentness is particularly apparent in high school cliches: the band geek, the science-fiction-comic-reading-nerd, the effeminate/sensitive male, the tomboy, the goths/emos, the kid with bad acne, and the obese, just to name a few – anyone who doesn’t fit in with the dominant majority’s conception of “normalcy”.

Perhaps in some ways we are all “normal” and “different” at the same time. But differentness, I feel, seems to be something that is frowned upon much in our society. In some ways, the disapproval is institutionalised, such as with marriage inequality, for example. In others, it is internalised in our subconsciousness and comes out only through our speech and attitudes towards people who are “different”.

I know that I myself am guilty of judging people and thinking that they are less of a person because they are different. I know now how it feels, however, to be on the other side of that and I hope to be more accepting of people and their differentness now and in the future.

When I was thinking about this post, I came across this website called “Teaching Tolerance“. It brought to mind the radical (and I say that somewhat sarcastically in case you cannot tell) idea that tolerance should be a subject that is taught in schools and included in school curricula. Knowing that I plan to be a teacher one day, I truly believe that this is one of THE most important lessons that a kid can learn. Sure maths and english are important and all, but it’s also important to educate our kids to be decent human beings! Maybe we would even see a decrease in teen suicide as a result.

I really do believe that the world would be a better place if we could all be more accepting of one another’s differentness and treat each other equally as human beings; if people didn’t have to fear social rejection or ostracism; if people didn’t have to feel guilty or ashamed of who they are; if people didn’t have to suffer the consequences of hatred and discrimination; if differentness was celebrated instead of condemned.

“Celebrate who you are. Celebrate differentness.” — that’s a motto I could live by.