The goal of my essay is to educate people on how they are contributing to discriminatory culture without even knowing it, and to show them that their complacency can be violent. I want my reader to notice how nothing stopped a young me from buying completely into the normalization of heterosexuality, even when I wasn't part of that majority. I am proud of how my paper flows nicely from my descriptive scenes to my analysis. I am also proud of how I engaged the senses in my first scene as well. In the future, I would like incorporate more dialogue into my descriptive scenes and stop using passive language in them. I also want to become more concise in my writing without losing any of my description.
Advanced Essay- Queerness Counteracting Culture
When I was 5 years old, I wanted to marry my best friend Lola. Now I know what you’re thinking- no, I didn’t know I was gay. I just thought gay people were really really good friends who happened to live together. No one had told me otherwise. The years passed and I eventually rectified that ridiculous childhood story, but something always kept me from ever thinking queerness could ever fit into my life. One day in the fourth grade, my classmates and I were playing 4 square in the recess yard. The giant oak trees that towered over us were full of dark, shiny green leaves. Through the gate, we could hear cars whooshing past, and the air smelled like the steaming asphalt beneath our feet. I let my mind wander as I stood in line for the game. I stared at my friend, her long black ponytail shining in the sun. I watched it swing, hypnotized, as she ran to get the ball when it went out of bounds. Then, I thought a thought. “
I really don’t like when she talks to other girls. Does that make me a lesbian?”
I had never even considered this before. My heart started pounding in my ears until it was even louder than the sound of the 4 square ball bouncing against the blacktop. I brushed the thought off. People just around me just weren’t gay. So I wasn’t. Settled. In a world where the only story ever told to me was a straight one, being gay wasn’t an option. Even though I didn’t recognize this yet, my young mind craved some sort of validation- to know that who I was was right and real. Perhaps for the first time, I was experiencing not being the default.
By the time I was in middle school, I had come up with a list of excuses. I’ve had crushes on boys before. I don’t want to cut my hair. I don’t like any of my girl friends. I would sit in bed, staring at my dark ceiling, running my list over in my head until I fell asleep. And even when I finally gave into the fact that I was queer, I couldn’t fathom telling my parents. One night, after hours of stewing in my bed, I wrote my parents a letter in green pen. Hands shaking, I folded it over and wrote their names on the front. I pulled back my blankets and walked cautiously down the hall to my parent’s room. I opened the door slowly and placed the little paper in between their sleeping bodies, my heart skipping beats. The next morning, I was a ball of nervous energy, but my parents didn’t even mention the note. I went into their room and found it unopened on the side of their bed; they never saw it. I lost my courage and tore it up.
My parents never told me they hated gay people, but they didn’t need to. They didn’t say anything, and that was enough for me to hate myself for who I was. The culture around me that only normalized heterosexuality had left deep grooves in my psyche that couldn’t just be flattened out by me finding out I was queer. You can’t put a bandaid on a wound that’s more than skin deep, and it wasn’t enough for the people around me to not be homophobic. My parents never sat me down when I was a kid and told me that if I was gay, it was alright with them. Maybe if they did, it would’ve made my wounds easier to heal.
In this period in time, it is very easy for people to trot out all the reasons why they are ‘not bigoted’. They constantly bring up the fact that they view all humans as equals. But phrases that mirror this mentality such as “I don’t see race” are actually perpetuating bigotry in a unique way. By saying that we are all equal, they are implying that we are all treated equally; that since women now have to right the vote, or since that gay marriage has been legalized, or since slavery is ‘over’, these groups don’t experience deep systemic discrimination, and damaging mindsets stemming from that oppression that are hard to shake. So people don’t do anything. They sit, comfortable with the fact that in their eyes, they’re not bigots. But in this culture, it isn’t enough just to not hate. You have to take action; you have to educate children about identities they might have not even allowed themselves to try on. You have to actively work against the ideas that have been put in people’s heads from when they were children. So that little girls know it’s ok to want to marry their best friends, in a ‘gay way’.