To Be, or Not to Be... Your Self This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 25, 2010
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All minorities have at least one thing in common; there is someone out there that doesn’t want them to be themselves. Some people don’t have a choice whether or not to be themselves, such as people of color. There is no way to hide your skin color, it is out there for the whole world to see and judge. But there are other people in the world that can hide who they are. A gay person doesn’t look different than any other teenager, old woman, or rich business man. From what I have experienced and seen myself, there are advantages and disadvantages to both being able to hide your difference, and having no choice at all.



People of color cannot hide who they are. Some of them might wish they could, for whatever reason, but they simply can’t. I recall reading the passage in Dreams of My Father, and having a similar reaction as Obama when he reads about the black man trying to bleach his skin to look white. “Why would you do that?” I asked myself. The image the book gave me really stuck with me. The idea of black people wanting to be white was new to me. On the other hand, I knew a lot of gay people were still in the closet, meaning they didn’t want people to know they like people of their own sex. When I thought about it this way, it made more sense; if there are gay people who don’t want to be gay, why shouldn’t there be black people who don’t want to be black? When I was younger, there were many times, I wished I wasn’t gay. I went to school every day, talked to my friends, they would ask me “Hey, What do you think of the girl over there? She’s bangin’ ain’t she?” Saddened by my inability to relate I responded “yeah, I guess so.” I felt like I was going to go crazy every day. Every time my mom asked me “you got a girlfriend yet?” it was like a punch in the gut. “No” is all I would ever say. Often she would respond with “Good, you’re too young to have a girlfriend anyway.”



Choosing to come out of the closet was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Thinking back to those days in the closet, I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. Yes, there are the people will never like me because of who I am. Once in a while walking back from the TIC building, or walking around the halls I will hear the occasional “Fag”, or “homo”, and one time I even recall hearing “You see that kid? Yeah that one, he’s that gay furfag I was talking about.” I actually felt a bit honored at this one. After all, I must have been important enough to be talked about by people whose names I don’t even know. One day while I was walking through the English hall way when I saw two kids that looked rather hickish. The one on the right was tall and wearing a baseball cap, a red plad shirt, blue jeans, and yellow work boots. The other one was also wearing work boots and blue jeans, but he was wearing a tattered white T-shirt. As they were walking towards me they could hardly keep themselves from bursting into laughter. After they passed me I here them say “I don’t even know why they let fags go to this school.” This incident never affected me, and that’s mainly because over all, I really don’t care; I would rather be hated for what I am than be liked for what I’m not. Almost every day I walk down the same halls. I see the faces of my friends and wave at them. I see the same people in the same spots at the same time, and I know I won’t be fussed. It is only on a rare occasion I will be fussed. But because I’m out, and all my friends know I’m gay, I know who my real friends are. People who are in the closet may have made friends in the past who, as they grew up, became homophobic. For these people it is hard to tell their friends in fear they will no longer be there for them. For black people, your friends have always known you are black and must therefore accept you. This is one of the advantages of not being able to hide your color.



One of the hardest things I had to do as a homosexual was come out to my parents. I had no idea how they were going to react. Both of my parents had gay friends, so I knew they were accepting of homosexuality, but things can change when someone in your family is gay. I was one of the lucky ones. Both of my parents were fine with it. In fact, my mother was the one who asked me if I was gay and all I had to do was say “Yes.” My dad was a slightly different story. My dad knew something was up. Personally, I believe he knew I was gay for a long time and just didn’t say anything. One day, he walked right up to my room, sat in next to my bed and asked

“You have been acting different, tell me what’s wrong.” I didn’t feel ready to say what was on my mind so all I said was

“Nothing.” My dad wasn’t going to accept this as an answer.

“I am not leaving this room until you tell me what’s wrong. I care about you and I need to know why you have been acting depressed lately.” I sat on my bed for at least 15 minutes, just thinking. Does he know? What will he say? Why does this have to be happening now? I finally decided it was time I come out.

“I’m gay, okay?” While walking out of the room my father simply asked the rhetorical question

“Now was that so hard?” I was so happy to have parent so accepting.

I have seen many horror stories when it comes to coming out to parents. It would be nice if all parents were like mine. It would also be nice if there was a way parents could know if their children would be gay in the future so they can be ready and not have to go through the shock of this sudden change that they may not have been expecting, if they are a gay friendly person or not. People of color have the lucky advantage of knowing they have a place to go where there are people that love them.



In public, gay people have a distinct advantage. They have the advantage of subtlety. As I said before; a gay person looks just like any other person out in public. In everyday life we just blend in with the hustle and bustle of civilian traffic. But if a person of color is out in public, they are fair game for any and all racists. Denial of services, bullying, getting beet up, or in extreme cases, killed are only some of the threats colored people face when they step out the door. This is where some people may want to hide their true selves. Not everyone lives in a safe place. If I lived in the Deep South, right next to the WBC, I might think twice about wearing my rainbow T-shirt. But if a clan member moves next door to a black man, there isn’t much he can do about it. People of color are automatically “out of the closet.” In some cases this is exelent, in others, it can be a horror story. Take 9/11 for example. After the terrorists flew jet-planes into the world trade center, many people were prejudice against museums. A few people even thought putting them into concentration camps would solve the problem of terrorism by getting rid of all the possible inner threats, just like we did with the Japanese during World War II. I am guessing at that point in time, those people wish they could have not been themselves for a few months. People can’t hide their colors, but they can hide their sexual preference, and that is an option many people would love to have.



Everyone has an advantage and a disadvantage. Whether a person thrown into this world as a black man and forced to deal with racism their who life, or just another person like everyone else, just with a dark secret they dare tell no one, there is going to be someone who doesn’t want them around. The thing is everyone should be able to be themselves. The question should not be to be or not to be yourself. Everyone should be able to show their true colors without fear.





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