I’ve never leaved in fear. I’m not afraid that people will find out I’m gay (psst, I am), or Jewish, or that I like to fiddle with code, or that I’ve broken the law in the past. I’m not afraid that one day I may get mugged or attacked for being gay/jewish/female. I’m just not. I’m aware of all those things, and how they make me different from other people, but I don’t let them force me to live in fear, even though that puts me often in places where I live in pain.
Pain and fear aren’t the same. You can be in pain regardless of being afraid, and we’re all going to get hurt because of who we are because other people are afraid and don’t understand that being different is okay.
My mom and I were talking over the summer, when I was a bit depressed and morose and she said “I love you. I was going to say how as long as you didn’t kill anyone, I’d love you, but I realized it depends on who you’d kill, and then I realized you’d never kill anyone without a good reason, and I’d still love you.” We went on to speculate about hurting people, and she pointed out I’d never do that. Nor would I hurt animals. I’d be more likely to hurt someone who did do those things. But basically I’m exactly what she hoped for with me. I grew up smart, I grew up able to think, I grew up with common sense. I’m a good person.
And that’s why I don’t live in fear. I know I’m a good person when you get down to it. And I know that being a good person means I have nothing to fear but fear itself, because I’m not out there making myself miserable out of fear. “Haters gonna hate” is entirely accurate in my life. I can’t stop you from hating me, or convince you that you’re wrong, by doing anything except what I’m doing, i.e. being a good person.
I may get hurt for who and what I am, but that will never take away the simple fact that I am a good person.
The corollary to that would be that if I’m the good person, then the people who hate me and attack me are the bad people, but I know that’s just not true. They see themselves as good people too. I’d joke and say the difference is that I’m right and they’re wrong, but that’s not true either. The difference is that I’m not going on and telling them they’re bad people. I just say that I’m sorry they feel that way, and walk away.
I won’t live my life in fear because they can’t tolerate difference. I won’t live my life in fear because they can’t accept change. I can only live my life as I do, being good, not hurting people, and leading by example. And I can only do that because my parents and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and great-aunts and everyone else all love me unconditionally for who and what I am. They know I’m a good person.
Too many people live in fear today. Some you may not be able to change, and the economy is so terrible right now, I feel bad asking anyone to donate to charity! But loving your friends and family costs you no money. Telling someone “Hey, you know I love you, right?” is simple. It’s easy, and it should be said. We want kids to stop killing themselves, we want people to stop bullying people, and we want the world to be better. It starts with making them feel loved and unafraid to be with you.
Don’t let them live in fear. Tell your parents, kids, cousins, uncles etc etc that you love them, no matter what.