Wear it like a crown

"Let them see that their words can cut you and you’ll never be free of the mockery. If they want to give you a name take it make it your own. Then they can’t hurt you with it anymore."

-Tyrion Lannister, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

As intelligent as the human race should be compared to the rest of the animal kingdom it still, for some reason, clings on the laws of wilderness by turning against the weak and the divergent of its own kind in order to nurse the illusion of superiority. Being distinctively different from the average seems to give anyone a permission to express their opinion publicly. Black skin, Down syndrome, two men holding hands, dwarfism, cross-dressing, wearing a burkha – as long as you stand out from the crowd you are a possible target for both direct judgment and silent disapproval mostly expressed by varying combinations of freezing looks, forced smiles and nose-wrinkling. Reasons for prejudices are as many as their harbourers and I’m not going to focus on elaborating those just now. The way I see it is that all of us have something to hide and to possibly be used against us, the unfortunate are those whose something can’t be put out of sight. Or perhaps they are the fortunate living without a fear of their secret coming to light for it is already there.

Either way you can’t avoid facing other people.

Well, you can but the lifestyle of a hermit doesn’t suit the most of us.

Of course you can always decide to become a lonely guru, move on top of some nice mountain and give highly cryptic advice to the occasional tourists who are lost from their paths – literally and figuratively speaking.

Anyway, back to the actual point. I’m talking about secrets and guarding them like I had some pretty rotten skeletons in my own cupboard. Not really the case. To be honest I’m the worst at keeping things secret (that is my own things, I would never gossip about things someone else had confined to me). And secrets aren’t even the topic that I’m supposed be discussing today. Finding an inclusive term to connect all of the aspects I’m trying to talk about is just next to impossible. The not-really-weaknesses-nor-flaws-but-yet-somehow-sort-of-sensitive-features-that-may-expose-us-to-discrimination-or-unwanted-not-necessarily-negative-attention, you know, things that interest other people needlessly much and that label us whether we wanted or not. Making sense much?

I'll make an example of myself.
Like everyone knows, I’m gay, I have a girlfriend, life is rainbows and unicorns (and sometimes thunderstorms). I’m lucky to be surrounded by open-minded, artsy and loving people whose reactions to my relationship I never needed to worry about. I was really nervous about coming out to my parents but in the end that went rather smoothly as well. But then there’s the world and all those other little humans whose attitudes and opinions could be anything. I say that I don’t need anyone to tell me how they accept me being a lesbian, how they are totally okay with it. My sexual orientation has nothing to do with anyone else’s acceptance or disapproval, nor has my human dignity. The other side of the coin is that I, like so many others, would very much appreciate feeling valuable and generally accepted despite being ‘different’. With new acquaintances – and old friends who just suddenly emerge out of nowhere - I’m often afraid of the possible judgement when I mention my girlfriend, especially if they otherwise seem amiable and interesting. The more involved I get with people the bigger grows my fear.

Outwards I’m this (irritating) “out and proud” kind of person who has lesbian earrings, a gay umbrella and a canvas bag screaming FUCK YOU in rainbow-coloured letters. I don’t mind holding hands or kissing in public even though someone might cast disapproving looks upon my direction. Being public is my way to protect both myself and my relationship from haters. This is the part where you realise how the quote in the beginning is connected to me. The proud feminist lesbian (without a buzz cut though) is my shield against bigmouthed homophobes who say I’m wrong, bad and dirty. That gay rights advocate can take any amount of disrespect, then give the finger and laugh scornfully. She’s above everyone who wants to shun her and she’s so proud.
None of this is really important for it is only surface. What matters is the love that I feel for this special someone of mine. Behind this shield I am safe and my love is protected and no one can touch me. To be honest I don’t even feel pride for loving a woman instead of a man because I don’t think it’s something to be proud of. I’m proud when I finish something big or achieve something I’ve been striving for. I’m proud if I overcome a fear or if a friend succeeds in something that matters to them. But I really don’t know how to feel genuine pride of being in love. It’s love, plain and simple, and I didn’t have to do anything to make it happen, it just is.

I’m getting slightly poetic and more than slightly melodramatic and I’m not even going to apologise because I'm also tired and it's 3 Am.

Just to avoid misunderstandings: I still think that Pride is a perfectly fitting name for the gay rights movement and I love to be a part of it.

Another great example of the matter I’m trying to mull over is Slutwalk which is putting on practice exactly what the quote somewhere far above proposes: taking the abusive name ‘slut’ and making it it’s own symbol leaving the mockers like fish on dry land. This kind of seemingly careless ‘fuck everyone’ -attitude works at least for me splendidly. To raise your voice and provoke is sometimes the only effective way of aiding your cause and gaining public attention to it.
We can’t just ask for respect, we need to demand it.

Nevertheless, I sincerely do understand that people are scared and concerned of something in themselves and may feel that the skies fall crashing down if they let it out. As I told you, I’ve had it easy but many might not. If the environment is reluctant and pressuring being different - whichever way it is defined - is tough and not always even worth the trouble.
But if there’s a chance to not hide then why live on your tiptoes?
Those who turn their backs on you were most likely to walk away at some point anyway.

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