Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I'll Take Diversity, Alex
The other day we were watching Jeopardy on television and one of the contestants, during the discussion with Alex, made reference that made it clear that he was gay. It was just a nice little comment that came out naturally and signified how easy it is to come out naturally. Joe and I perked up and watched the show with just a little bit more interest. It was nice to see someone like us, not a movie star, not a celebrity, just a contestant on a game show.
Equally, I watched Testify (captions are available) on YouTube ... featuring the San Francisco Gay Men's choir, and in watching it saw a fellow, part of the choir, sitting in a wheelchair. Seeing him there meant so much to me. Seeing him simply be part of something so communal stirred my heart.
It is important to me to see human diversity on display. It is important to me because it makes me feel less alone. That young man on Jeopardy must have made a decision to answer the way he did ... he decided to be honest. I'm sure too that in making that decision he thought about the importance of honesty, of being there, of representing the breadth of diversity.
I believe that man sitting with the choir made a decision too. I spoke with a woman, once, who wrestled with performing with her choir. She felt that the fat that she sat down 'ruined the line and the look' of the choir. She felt that maybe her desire to perform was selfish. But, in the end she made the decision because, simply, she WAS part of the choir. Her participation was truth. She also thought that maybe it would be important for parents of kids with disabilities to see her there, and that maybe it would be even more important for those with disabilities that she do what she does the way she does it.
For me, these two events mattered.
Therefore it mattered when I was told the other day, by a staff who worked at a venue that I spoke at, that she was shocked to come into a room and see a man in a wheelchair with the microphone. Shocked to see that hundreds of eyes looked in my direction. Her son is a wheelchair user. She told me that she was going home to tell him what she'd seen. She got teary eyed and rushed away from me.
But this post isn't about that moment.
This post is to remind us all how important it is that we live our lives openly, that we do what we do in full view. Every time you go shopping, every time you sit in a park and read, every time you are you doing what you are doing, you are demonstrating something important.
We have lives.
All of us.
Like every kind of pride it is evidenced best not by the extraordinary accomplishments ...
but by living the ordinary ones with joy.