Friday, November 25, 2011

Friends are the Family you Choose

I admit, the title is cliched and overused, but that really doesn't mean it's not true.

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to those Americans out there.  Like almost everyone else I know, I spent the entire day yesterday with my family, an occurrence that very rarely occurs anymore. And what I was struck most by was how horribly sexist, racist, and intolerant my family is.  I heard some absolutely awful things said about gay people and fat people and women and non-white people.  I should have expected it, and to some extent I did, but the amount of crap my uncles (in particular, though they were not the only ones) heaped on people that were different than them.

With my immediate family (my sisters and parents) I would speak up and say: You realize that's racist? or Your realize that's sexist/judgmental/intolerant? And I will give them credit, throughout the day, they did start getting better (whenever they're around my uncles, they slide down into intolerance pretty quickly).  But my uncles don't respect me, I'm still a kid in their eyes, and if I had said anything, they just would have a) ignored me or b) ridiculed me and called me over-sensitive.

It was just such a rude awakening.  I spend my time at my job where people who are different are excepted without question.  And lately, several of my closest friends (including Boyfriend) have been home and I've been hanging out with them, and when I'm with them not only is everyone accepted, we even talk about intolerance.  In these circumstances, it's easy to forget that the entire world isn't like the people I interact with on a regular basis.  Thus interacting with the "real world" is frequently a rude awakening.  But, it's such an important awakening for me, because it does reaffirm that there are important rights to still be fighting for.  Things are better than they used to be for a lot of groups, but they still are not nearly equal.  I'm not sure I would necessarily classify myself as an activist, but it's times like these that make me want to be more of an activist.

Again, it's cliched, but I am grateful for a fairly large group of people who are accepting and allow me to be myself, and I wish everyone who feels that they're different from mainstream culture had similar support in their life.

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