Throughout history, there have been those who did not fit into the societal norms. During times of persecution, it would take little more than a simple rumor to start a hunt against those who lived outside the accepted boundaries. This was not limited to just pagans and homosexuals. Just about anyone could have been criminalized for the most stupid reasons. But for their times, different was dangerous.
For those who were hunted, being open about their practices was not a possibility. Those who were caught were publicly ridiculed, tormented, and in some extreme cases, killed simply because they refused to live by societies rules. Some of the worst times linked to this way of living include the witch trials, the red scare, the Communist witch hunt after WWII, the holocaust, even the Chinese internment camps. All of these events had the power of fear and misunderstanding fuel a fire that would shape events in history based on those who were different.
And while I can honestly say that society has evolved, and it’s safer today than it was two hundred years ago, the fears of persecution still live. And with good reason.
Just about any member of the LGBT community will tell you that coming out is never easy. Not everyone is accepting of those who are different. A former coworker and a good friend of mine has been out of two closets for years, and yet, he still faces judgment and ridicule, some from his own family.
Why does being different make others uncomfortable?
In my own opinion, it’s because we’ve been painted a picture from birth on how to live our lives. We are born, we grow up in a nice Christian home, get a job, get married to someone of the opposite gender, have babies and start the cycle over again with the next generation. And this, in theory, will continue until the eventual extinction of the human race (either by self destruction or natural selection).
But this is not how it should be.
I was born to a baptised Mormon father and a baptised Christian mother. I’ve been baptised myself, (twice actually). And I started out as a good Christian boy. But I began thinking for myself and, after years of self-reflection, found my own peace in eclectic paganism.
My brother grew up in the same household I did, even if we had different fathers. I don’t believe he had as much exposure to Christian teachings as I did growing up. But he grew up to be his own man, and through his own experiences, he came to the realization that he likes both men and women.
And that’s ok in our household. Because we know that everyone is different, and we accept that.
But that’s not how things are in other homes. I’ve had friends who’ve come out as one thing or another and be completely alienated from their loved ones. One was sent off to boarding school to correct her “childish behaviour”. Another was kicked out to live her “godless harlot ways” on the streets. She was seventeen. Thankfully, her girlfriend (now wife) and her mother took her in.
A lot of what drives these actions is a combination of stereotypes and misunderstanding. And it’s easy to see why. People usually retaliate negatively against those things they don’t understand. And a large group of these individuals feel justified in their behavior, often quoting bible scriptures and feeling as if they are doing God’s work.
This way of thinking fuels ones views and makes them believe that those who act, dress, speak, or even think a certain way all fall into a category separate from themselves. Stereotyping this way doesn’t help anyone, especially since everyone falls under one stereotype or another. Whites are racists, blacks are criminals, Chinese are super smart, and Muslims are all terrorists are just a few of today’s discrimination tactics. And all are wrong.
I’ve made friends with all sorts of people from many different backgrounds; some with disabilities, others from extreme poverty, and others who had more than they needed. But I judged them on how they treated others different from themselves. I’m happy to say for the most part, my group of friends were pretty tolerant of others. But of course, I come from a smaller town, so that may have had something to do with it.
In today’s world, understanding and acceptance can be hard to find in the best of circumstances. And when your heart wants something that others say is wrong, it can make you doubt yourself, make you confused. But if you truly want something, and you know it’s right for you, then it is up to you to get it, no matter the obstacles.
And if others should put you down, and make you feel like you’re worthless and alone, know that there will always be someone to pick you up and dust you off. And from me to you who is reading this entry, I want you to know that no matter the circumstance, I’ll be your friend and brother under the moon.