Language is a funny thing. It is, perhaps, one of the most powerful things we carry with us, yet it’s played with as a meaningless arrangement of symbols of sounds. This is the result of a unique isolation of feelings to actions that this generation seems to pride themselves on having mastered. We no longer feel comfortable showing the world the raw side of our emotions—fear, anger, worry, hurt—instead we pick and choose our blissful, drunk, successful, playful moments to show the world through as many social media outlets as we can handle. It has become a cultural norm to give ourselves up to as large of an audience as possible, to give up as much of our lives as possible—with the exclusion of anything that could make anyone think we lead anything less than a perfect life. And then, we've taken on the responsibility of deciphering what all of that means for ourselves.
This impersonal, shallow, afraid culture spites itself into one where miscommunication happens constantly, in waves of “he said” and “she said” and “I saw” and “but I think I heard” – followed by Snapchat story explanations or through-the-walls whispers that no one can help but strain to hear, despite their claim to be honest, down-to-earth, and uncaring about anyone or anything that isn’t beneficial to them.
In recent conversation with a friend of mine, I came to understand how big the gap is within our generation. It exists between the communicators, and the communicated. My friend is the communicated—the person who has words put into her mouth by those who deem her fragile enough, or empty enough, or stupid enough to conjure up their own interpretation of her words. And in attempts to defend herself, or her opinion, or the words she never said, she is invalidated. That’s the generation that we come from.
And while this might seem juvenile and strictly applicable to the younger generation—this is not necessarily true. Miscommunication through efforts to appear heartless or cool or happy both on and off social media come from both ends of the spectrum. There are marriages failing because of Facebook. There are siblings living worlds apart, interpreting love or appreciation for each other through status messages and tagged posts. There is misguided and underthought information out there guiding women and men alike on subjects ranging from their body images, to their political values, to their sense of what family should or shouldn’t be by media guidelines. We are becoming a world misled by what other people have to say, or think they have to say (or heard someone else say, or think they heard someone else say, or accidentally heard while listening in on your conversation and then decided to twist your words).
The way this culture has come to ruin friendships and sever family ties is remarkable. Its articulate. It’s harrowing. Its artistic.
So, here is something to try--don’t let anyone speak for you, or against you, or about you, in ways that are demeaning or untrue.
and for the other end of the spectrum--I triple dog dare you to take a chance on truth, you may be surprised at all the things you really don’t know.
We have made some incredible strides as a nation toward spreading some equality to marginalized groups. Yet, work still remains. Though it is far easier to be gay in 2016 America than it was in years past, there are still undeniable challenges. Being gay in 2016 means waking up each morning knowing that much of the world, even within your own country, still thinks of you as disgusting, as less than, as second class, as irredeemable and damned. It means moving forward despite these challenges, and pushing forward in the face of a bigotry that has not yet
Being gay in 2016 means looking at a map and determining where it is and is not safe for you to travel, or for you to live. If you were married, and something were to happen to you during a trip to Tennessee, would your significant other be allowed to be at your side? If you moved to Nebraska, would you be accepted at your workplace or would you have to hide photos of your loved one for fear of being let go? If you traveled to South Carolina with your partner, would you be able to walk the beach together? If you walked the streets of Alabama, hand-in-hand, would you be accepted? There are many jobs in Texas, but is it safe for you there?
Being gay in 2016 means walking the streets of one of the most liberal cities in one of the most liberal states in one of the most liberal countries in all the world, your hand intertwined with your partner's, and still feeling the gazes on you, the judgment weighing down on you, and pretending that it isn't really there.
Being gay in 2016 means watching a tasteful kissing scene between two men or two women on television turn into a controversy, and being unable to ask why the steamiest romantic scenes in The Bachelor/Bachelorette are somehow more acceptable without being told you're "oversensitive."
Being gay in 2016 means listening to family and friends describe your partner as your "friend," or referring to him/her as your "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" only in hushed whispers as if the word were dirty and uncomfortable and nobody else must hear it.
Being gay in 2016 means insecurity even in marriage, knowing that the bond could at a moment's notice be made null and void should the political climate shift even slightly.
Being gay in 2016 means minding the people around you before you hug or plant a quick kiss goodbye. Who will it offend? Will it attract undue attention? What will the children think?
Being gay in 2016 means finding little comfort nor a place in the arms of religion, because much religion still dictates that you don't have a place at all.
Being gay in 2016 means laughing off assumptions made about your sexuality, and pretending that it doesn't upset you.
Being gay in 2016 means watching America elect one of the most actively homophobic vice-presidential candidates in history, and genuinely wondering whether or not you have a future place in your own country.
Being gay in 2016 means living within a paradox, secure in your insecurity and confident in your lack of confidence, proud of your nation but ashamed of it as well, hopeful and yet also fearful.
Being gay in 2016 means many things.
Being gay in 2016 means writing this article, and knowing that almost half the people who read it are rolling their eyes.
Being gay in 2016 is NOT wrong. It’s human nature, you love who you love no matter who they are. Please accept yourself and the wonderful person you are. Don’t look for approval from anyone else to love who you are meant to be with.