“I love gay people and pizza.”
Hi. I know. A weird title. Well I know that this would get your attention. That was my point. This subject requires your attention.
To start off, I am straight (sorry ladies…. just kidding..) But recently I have had a growing interest in the subject of human rights (or the lack of in some places) the LGBT community. It might have been those PRIDE events that gets me every time with their damn awesome rainbows and unicorns (I fucking love rainbows and unicorns) or maybe it is gay marriage articles that keep popping up on the news; or maybe it’s just that I have been learning more about this human rights issue a little bit more proactively. (For example, did you know that in Algeria, you can get stoned to death if you are gay and the law allows the people to do this? Or did you know that you can get a lifetime sentence in jail in Russia for being gay?)
Whatever the reason is that I am being more aware of this topic, the important thing is that an average American like me, is taking the issue more seriously, as we should have a long time ago.
Before I begin, I have to confess. As an adolescent growing up in a small town in Colorado, I have used terms such as “gay” or “fag” as derogatory terms. I thought it was “cool.” And to be quite honest, I didn’t even know what those words really meant nor how hurtful they can be.
But I was enlightened, and you can be too, if you are not already. This is part of growing up, getting educated, and figuring out what’s right and wrong, and taking a stand for what you believe to be right.
I recently watched a TedTalk by Andrew Solomon (and I’m mildly obsessed with this guy, in the non-creepy-wow-he-is-so-brilliant-and-awesome kind of way, and if you a re a friend of mine, you already know this because I have been talking about him and his work for several weeks now), and he talks about the prejudice that he faced as a gay American growing up and the hardships that came with it. But instead of letting those potentially negative experiences bring him down, he found a way to forge meaning and build his identity. He also talks about his experience of being a gay father and his unconditional love for his child, and what a blessing it is to experience that. I have watched this TedTalk at least like 20 times, and I tear up every time I watch it still because the way he depicts his “blessing” to marry his partner and to be a father, and his perspective on life are so amazingly beautiful. Anyways, this TedTalk really touched me deeply and the first night I watched it, I went on Amazon at 2 am and bought 3 of his books.
As I was having another one of my “oh my gosh you have to watch this TedTalk he is amazing” rants with one of my friends, she asked me, “Yuri, do tell me. I did watch it and I thought it was wonderful and powerful; but I was a little bit puzzled how MUCH you were affected by this guy and how much you can relate to his talk… you’re not gay after all.”
And I thought about her question for a few days. Why DID his talk impact me so much?
I think it is because we all have closets that we hide in, whether we are gay or not (and there is actually another wonderful TedTalk that explains this very well). And we all have a difficult time coming out of our own closets sometimes and be true to ourselves and fully accept our own identities. And I admire people who can come out of their closets, and fully embrace who they are, regardless of what others might think of it (honey badger don’t CARE attitude). I admire that he can appreciate and love himself for who he is and he tells his stories to create his identity. He also doesn’t take anything for granted, whether it is getting married to the love of his life, or having a family, or having a child which may seem like a “given privilege” to those who have not experienced his obstacles as a gay American. I love that he passionately stands up for what he believes in after he overcame his own hardships, and was able to turn that into a beautiful movement hoping to better lives for LGBT and in some countries, bring awareness to hopefully SAVE lives. That is just so awesome. I also love that he is a writer and he impacts people with his words, which is something I aspire to do. He inspired me to believe that everything happens for a reason, whether good or bad, and there IS always a way to make positive meaning out of each of those experiences.
When I was reading his bio, he too, had a mother who attempted suicide. This really made me think about my hardships that I have experienced in my life and my experience with almost losing my mother. I am not gay, but I definitely have faced difficult times in my life in different forms. I thought about what positive meaning I could make out of my own hardships in my life. And today, as I am typing this up, I am forming a group to do a walk this fall with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (and would be great if you want to join me or donate!). This is my way of turning my hardship into something positive. And Andrew Solomon inspired me to do this. Positivity is definitely infectious; and passionate positivity triggers positive actions that make this world a better place.
So anyways going back to the title, let me finally explain. I don’t love gay people BECAUSE they are gay; but I love gay people because they are people.
I hate broccoli, but I don’t hate people that like broccoli, although I don’t agree with them. I love pizza, and if you tried to hate me because I love pizza, you are probably a psycho. What I am saying is, if two people love and care for each other, that is a blessing, and no one should judge them for what their preference in life is, whether it is broccoli or pizza. And frankly, it does not affect you in any negative way. In fact, more people who are happy in this world because they get to embrace their broccoli or pizza liking will probably only impact you more positively in the end!
More happy people = Happier world.
So to end this note, I love gay people; and I love all straight people. And I love all people in between. I just love people, and I believe that everyone has the right to be happy. We should protect that beautiful fact.
And I hope that you impact at least one other person to spread the word that protecting the rights of all people’s happiness is important and that stopping the prejudice against LGBT is something that our generation needs to change in our life time. Whatever form you take to do this, whether you support the next PRIDE event with your own rainbows and unicorns, or you just simply take 5 minutes to educate yourself in this every few months, or you catch yourself using words like “gay” as a derogatory term, or share this blog with another friend, or become the next famous human rights activist (which would be awesome!) whatever it is, I invite you to join bringing awareness to this issue in your own way and in your own capacity.
Or maybe it doesn’t have to do a thing with LGBT – just take this opportunity to reflect on what negative things have happened in your life and how you can make positive meaning out of it for the world.
We have an opportunity to make a difference. You have the opportunity to make a difference. How wonderful is that? 🙂
And lastly, I invite all of you to watch his TedTalk. It will change your life for the better. Even if it is not as drastically as it did to me, but I promise you, it will make you better even just a slight bit.
Here is the link of Andrew Solmon’s talk:
This is Ash Beckham’s TedTalk on “coming out of the closets”:
OH and the honey badger don’t give a shit video for old time’s sake:
And PLEASE HELP AND SUPPORT and donate to my fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention here (Team Celebrate Life – YC) even if it is just a few dollars: http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=567889
And if you liked the article, and want to contribute in spreading the messages in this article, please share this post on Facebook or Twitter or other people!
Thank you and have a wonderful day!