“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
I really like this entry, Sword and Shield. Especially the first paragraph, which I identify with a lot.
“I was never one to worry. I was never one to be concerned. I didn’t even have goals, dreams or aspirations. I just went with the flow, happy to get by.”
That was me, too. I was carefree, pretty easy going (or you could say ‘apathetic’) about most things. Let bygones be bygones. There were Issues that I was concerned about and obvious ‘wrongs’ in the world that I wished would be righted, of course. But for most part I assumed the world would get on with it, that these wrongs would surely be righted in time, no excessive worrying needed on my part.
The one thing that riled me up was usually conservation issues, because as I learnt more from my classes, it became apparent how ignorant the majority of the population are to these issue, how completely blind they are to that fact that these things truly matter, that there weren’t lofty ideals but a life and death reality, of mankind, our planet and all living things.
It was very different for me for idealogical issues. Those I tended to shrug my shoulders and trot out the excuse of my ignorance.
Perhaps the worst were those issues I WAS sure about, but never thought to take a stand on. Because I assumed that the world and society would get along fine. That, however slowly, society was always marching in the direction of progress. You can’t rush these things, just wait.
Obviously as a gay person I have to know all about its taboo nature in society; I necessarily have to face, it if not everyday, then at least pretty often, right?
And yet somehow I still remained blind. I was frustrated by the inconveniences in my life, but not outraged by any injustice. I would happily go for the occasional LGBT-related event, but do little more then smile from the sidelines. I accepted it. I saw it as something that was merely social taboo, not the fault of any one or anything, but just convention. Just the way it’s always been. And a way that is changing, slowly but surely.
Most people my age have no problems at all with it, I thought. It mostly only the older generation who are more conservative, more set in their views and who have little contact of any kind with the LGBT world. All they know of them are the occasional stereotype falsehoods portrayed in the media. In other words, the problem will slowly but surely fade away as there is greater exposure and education regarding LGBT issues.
Recently, it has come as a great blow to me to realize– to really realize– that quite a few of my close friends do think it is an ‘abomination’, that I am an ‘abomination’. Not that I didn’t ‘know’ of their disapproval, I just never thought about it, and the full meaning of it never sunk in. To be honest, I just didn’t care.
I was ‘tolerant’ and ‘accepting’, I ‘respected’ other people’s beliefs. What they thought and believe is their business, as long as they’re not standing in my way. And despite my friends obviously breaking my stereotype of being ‘old, ignorant and uneducated’, I still viewed LGBT rights in the world as something inevitable that was coming soon, that there was nothing but out-dated thinking standing in the way, and mostly due to inertia.
When they tell me that…they’ve in fact never searched into this issue at all (despite holding their unwavering views about it), and despite having known me and my orientation for so many years… I feel like a failure. In all these years, I’ve never caused them to even wonder about or question their position.
I suppose that ends now. Silence and apathy can be as deadly as hate and ignorance. Social change only happens because people dare to ask for it. The least I can do is make sure that people in my circle have access and exposure to the other side of the coin, that I help to disseminate the voice of this social movement.