Unique creatures were never popular in high school. That’s just the way it works. Unique creatures have different talents, different interests, different friends – and maybe even and all too often, none. Popularity was a haven with its dark and unfeeling gatekeepers who wanted to keep you out if you were out or in if you were in. It was in that struggle to find a happy place where people like us met chagrin.
From teen torment and insecurity to a secluded self-assurance alive within the theatre of another world, this preserved place is one I spent a lot of time in as a child … just to feel okay about me because of how I was designed. Why? Because it is far too easy to make fun of people. It’s a bad habit that we are all guilty of. It’s not fair but it is happening, and for those bearing the brunt, there may be few ways to validate the vent.
For some people, the uphill-both-ways struggle suffocates. Not everybody is Kurt from Glee, Jack MacFarland from Will & Grace, Cam or Mitchell from Modern family or even Edward Kinear’s Simon Bishop in As Good as It Gets. Some don’t have a happy story to tell because no matter how hard they try, they just never find joy. Tyler Clementi, Raymond Chase, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, Cody J. Barker, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Harrison Chase Brown, Felix Sacco, Lance Lundsten, Tiffani Maxwell, Caleb Nolt, Jaheem Herrera, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, Simone Back and James Bassett; a register of the beautiful lights now dark because of the desolation in unacceptance and the loneliness of a broken spirit.
These were very real people who lived very real lives – just like you and I. They got dressed every morning hoping they looked nice and went out to do what they had to do to get through the day – just like you and I. They had mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, teachers and friends – just like you and I. Unlike you and I however, each of their journeys ended too soon… two of them were as young as 11 when they took their own lives.
Hope is rising however. More and more international media attention works to make bare the beauty of uncertainty and individuality, while people with power are getting behind the fight to expose this epidemic and foster a better, healthier tolerance. James Bassett found solace in the pageantry and eccentricity driven by his individual-expression, and brought to the fore for him by performing artist Lady Gaga. And because of the power available through online communities, James’ mother hopes to be able to fulfil his final wish.
People can be nasty. School kids can be horrifying. The actions we inflict on people that share the paths of our lives can be so ghastly, it’s a miracle we humans have survived at all. We seem to have forgotten the glory of love – however and wherever it finds its space to grow. To anyone suffering in any way because of the negative feedback you get from other people – know this: It Gets Better. Trust me, I know.
Whether you are a boy or a girl, man or woman, gay or straight, there are happier days in store for you. You are more than okay! There is no other you.
Love what you love – wherever you find your celebration.
“Things will get easier. Peoples minds will change. And you should be alive to see it.” – Ellen Degeneres.
© Dylan Balkind