'Love, Simon'’s Excellent, Hard-Hitting Metaphor For Coming Out

'Love, Simon'’s Excellent, Hard-Hitting Metaphor For Coming Out

I, too, have held my breath.
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The stories we tell are the words we use to describe the world. Every now and then, a story finds a way of putting something into words that although it hasn’t been heard before, it feels as right as if it’s the only way to refer to it. Like the “cone of shame” in Disney/Pixar’s Up. Or “holding your breath” in the recently released romantic comedy film Love, Simon.

This is a mild spoiler, but after Simon comes out to his parents, his mother tells him that she knew he had a secret. “These last few years, more and more, it’s almost like I can feel you holding your breath,” she says. “You get to exhale now, Simon. You get to be more you than you have been in a very long time.”

It hit me then that I, too, have held my breath. I’ve done it over and over again.

Simon isn’t ashamed of being gay. He’s worried about how things may change when other people know that he’s gay, how they might act differently towards him. He’s worried about him and the people he loves getting hurt.

Like Simon, I’m not ashamed of my “minority” identities. I’m not ashamed to be Jewish, or asexual, or anosmic. But every time I meet a new person, no matter how perfectly nice and friendly they are, I worry about how they will react when one part of me or another comes up. I worry about the results of this time I come out.

It’s a completely rational worry. Anti-semites, acephobes, and ableists can be perfectly nice, friendly people.

This worry is exactly like holding your breath because you don’t know whether there will be air or water to greet your lungs when you exhale.

Eventually, though, you must exhale, and something will flow into your lungs.

It could be hatred. It could be glares, or spit, or slurs carved into my cafeteria table. It could be shouting or getting beat up or being murdered or driven from my home. There is no exaggeration here.

It could be doubt. I say I don’t experience sexual attraction, or that I don’t have a sense of smell, and I am questioned on it. “Is that really a thing?” “I don’t think that’s a thing.” “Don’t be silly, of course you do!” “How does that even WORK?” The implications that I am lying, the assertions that someone else knows my lived experience better than I do, the demands that I justify my existence – they cut deep.

It could be isolation. Some people, a lot of people, just don’t feel comfortable interacting with people who are unlike them. A lot of new acquaintances have taken their potential friendship away from me because of my differences, and it hurts in a different but no less poignant way than outright hatred or doubt.

These things are unbreathable as water. They hurt like water hurts your lungs.

On the other hand, when you exhale, it could be air that flows in.

It could be acceptance. Some people see the world as more beautiful when there are differences in it, and approach those differences with joy, respect, and genuine curiosity. Those are good people, who make it safe to exhale.

It could be understanding. I was in college when I told someone I didn’t have a sense of smell, and she replied, “Oh, are you anosmic?” I almost cried, because for once, there was no doubt, and there was no demand that I defend or explain myself. She already knew.

It could be kinship. “Oh cool, me too!” is music to my ears.

I don’t know, when I’m in one of these “holding my breath” situations, what the outcome will be. All I know is that it will happen again and again for my entire life. Coming out is not a one-and-done deal; it is a repeated life process, and it never really ends. We never stop breathing, either.

But, if you keep breathing, it’s possible to cough out the water and get to the air.

Cover Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

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I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.
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Beliefs are beliefs, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm all about girl power, but in today's world, it's getting shoved down our throats. Relax feminists, we're OK.

My inspiration actually came from a man (God forbid, a man has ideas these days). One afternoon my boyfriend was telling me about a discussion his class had regarding female sports and how TV stations air fewer female competitions than that of males. In a room where he and his other male classmate were completely outnumbered, he didn't have much say in the discussion.

Apparently, it was getting pretty heated in the room, and the women in the class were going on and on about how society is unfair to women in this aspect and that respect for the female population is shrinking relative to the male population.

If we're being frank here, it's a load of bull.

SEE ALSO: To The Women Who Hate Feminism

First of all, this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than ever before. As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It's a business, not a boycott against female athletics.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Why is it so “old fashioned" to allow a man to do the dirty work or pay for meals? Feminists claim that this is a sign of disrespect, yet when a man offers to pick up the check or help fix a flat tire (aka being a gentleman), they become offended. It seems like a bit of a double standard to me. There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain (I mean, I think that's pretty freaking awesome).

The male body is meant to endure more physical while the female is more delicate. So, quite frankly, at a certain point in life, there need to be restrictions on integrating the two. For example, during that same class discussion that I mentioned before, one of the young ladies in the room complained about how the NFL doesn't have female athletes. I mean, really? Can you imagine being tackled by a 220-pound linebacker? Of course not. Our bodies are different. It's not “inequality," it's just science.

And while I can understand the concern in regard to money and women making statistically less than men do, let's consider some historical facts. If we think about it, women branching out into the workforce is still relatively new in terms of history. Up until about the '80s or so, many women didn't work as much as they do now (no disrespect to the women that did work to provide for themselves and their families — you go ladies!). We are still climbing the charts in 2016.

Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it's being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let's stop blaming men and society for how we continue to “struggle" and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark in today's workforce. We're doing a kick-ass job, let's stop the complaining.

I consider myself to be a very strong and independent female. But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem I endure. Not everything is a man's fault. Let's be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush.

It's a lot of give and take. We don't have to pretend we don't need our men every once in a while. It's OK to be vulnerable. Men and women are meant to complement one another — not to be equal or to over-power. The genders are meant to balance each other out. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am all for being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don't believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant" gender. There is no “dominant" gender. There's just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that's that.

Time to embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: chrisjohnbeckett / Flickr

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Past Legal And Modern Social Apartheid

An opinion piece on past legal Apartheid in South Africa and how it is socially reflected in the United States.

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When stepping inside of a solitary cell at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, I felt a tightness in my chest and wanted to leave that small space immediately; imagining a Black South African who broke the pass laws during Apartheid being in there is beyond disturbing. Due to laws such as the Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923, the Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951, and the Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970, Black South Africans during Apartheid were extremely limited in where they could live, detrimentally affecting their economic and employment opportunities. When touring the former Constitutional Hill prison, the guide told us that, when Black South Africans were caught without passes permitting their stay in Joburg for the day and/or night, they spent 5 days in prison, along with murderers and others who committed serious crimes. If caught multiple times breaking these pass laws, they would spend 5 years in this prison. Most of those who violated these pass laws were unemployed or sought better employment in Joburg; this is understandable, as a person has a better chance of having a job by being there physically. When thinking further about the lack of opportunity they suffered from due to the aforementioned laws creating this effect, this legal repercussion becomes further and further disturbing. Additionally, this also directly led to the creation of "White" and "Black" areas, where Whites lived in areas of better opportunity (ex. cities, suburbia), and Blacks were subjected to living in poverty and townships where there was limited economic and employment opportunities.

This lack of opportunity is echoed in the U.S. when looking at socially designated "White" and "Black" areas. Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman essentially because he thought Martin "was not where he belonged", which was in a nice suburban area. As a person of color myself, I have been stared at in museums, followed in stores, and once at 12 years old kicked out of a shop (I did not do anything wrong), because I "stuck out". In this way, society told me (and violently told Martin) that we don't belong in those areas, that we "belong" in ghettos or prison; the racial demographics of populations in U.S. prisons will support me here. Therefore, by society socially designating where people "belong", not only do they bind themselves in their own ignorance, but also prevent people of color from sharing the same access to plentiful life and economic opportunity.

References

Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923: Prevented Black South Africans from leaving designated area without a pass. The ruling National Party saw this as keeping Whites "safe" while using Blacks for cheap labor.

Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951: Allowed Black South Africans to enter the building industry as artisans and laborers. Restricted to "Native" areas. Prevented competition between Whites, Coloureds, and Blacks. Could not work outside a designated area unless given special permission.

Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970: All Black South Africans would lose their South African citizenship/nationality over time. Would not be able to work in "South Africa" due to being aliens. Black South Africans would have to work inside their own areas and could only work in urban areas if they had special permission from the Minister.


South African History Online. "Apartheid Legislation 1850s-1970s." South African History Online, South African History Online, 11 Apr. 2016, www.sahistory.org.za/article/apartheid-legislation....

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