Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why The Caged Bird Sings

I originally wrote this post in 2005 and each time I've reposted it, it always makes me feel as it did the first time I typed these words...empowered.  Anyone who has lived with a secret knows how alone and different having a secret can make you feel.  When that secret no longer exists it allows the person to finally live a life void of lies and avoidance.  What a liberating feeling that can be!  I know some of my friends and family had a difficult time when I finally came out of the closet and confessed to being a "nonbeliever" (please insert your label of choice here) after struggling with it for many years. Sometimes I still feel a little awkward when situations call for some reference to God or religious faith and I have none to offer, but I muddle through those times and become stronger and more at peace with myself in the face of adversity.  At this point in my life all I hope for is that the people who love me and who have journeyed through life with me can feel the same amount of tolerance towards my beliefs as I have for theirs.  The following is a short example of how my words and actions allowed a caged bird sing and how they deeply influenced someone without me knowing it.
The cage bird sings for freedom. It sings as a disguise. It sings because if it remains silent, it will fade away and die. Many times I have tried to place myself in other people's shoes especially those people who feel as if they have to hide or cover up who they really are or conceal the lifestyle they have chosen to live because they fear the stigma and rejection attached to it. I grew up being the black sheep of the family, but even the antics of a black sheep doesn't come close to the type of reaction created by someone who is homosexual. I can almost understand why some people try to lead a straight life, be something they are not and never feel comfortable enough to reveal who they really are. The inner turmoil must be devastating. Yes, I know all those who say horrific things about homosexuality. I've heard all the arguments...all the pros and cons!!! I guess my rather liberal views on the subject allow me to see the person as a human being and not as some perverted demon or freak of nature.

Several years ago my mother made a strange statement to me one day. She told me that I had changed her views on homosexuals. Me? I'm straight....how did I do that? She asked me if I remembered the day I first learned that one of my female cousins was a lesbian. I thought back to that day 30 something years ago and vaguely remembered what an uproar within the family that announcement had caused. Hey, at the time I probably felt relieved because the focus wasn't on me and the gossip was centered elsewhere! Yes, I remember being told! My mother asked me if I remembered what I said to her when she told me about my cousin, Paula. I thought back, but I couldn't remember my initial reaction. My mother refreshed my memory by telling me that I kindly informed everyone in the room that my cousin was the same person as she was the day before they all knew she was a lesbian. As far as I was concerned, nothing had changed.
 
My mother said my words stuck with her and she knew what I had said was true. She stopped labeling my cousin and allowed her to continue being the kind, loving person we always knew her to be. That acceptance broadened in time and allowed my mother to view others with different preferences and lifestyles as being just as human as she is and it made me smile knowing that black sheep of the family can be pretty sagely at times.

10 comments:

  1. I'm a bit of a humanitarian and feel that deep down people are more alike than they are different (which isn't to ignore the very big differences among the members of the human family). I'm getting to where I don't like labels very much. Besides, mavericks have always appealed to me. Most of us are more full of contradictions than we care to admit, sometimes more than we realize.

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    1. Life is full of contradictions. People only follow suit where that is concerned.

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  2. there's nothing harder than living a lie

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    1. Yes, because you have so many things you have to remember and to forget. With the truth there's nothing you have to remember...it's just the same old story each time it's told.

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  3. That was nice of your mom to credit you like that...Really nice.

    I saw Maya Angelou speak when I was in college. She's really awesome.

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    1. My mother credits me with much more than I credit myself for. Isn't it a shame we couldn't see ourselves like other people see us?

      Maya Angelou...wow! Lucky you!

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  4. I love you just the way you are !

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    1. I know and I thank you for the friendship you've always given me.

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  5. It feels monumental when the person who raised you and shaped the person that you are - is suddenly changed by something that YOU do or say. That didn't really happen to me much. My parents knew I was dopey right up until the end. I think I was able to bring some humor to them a bit and help them lighten their thing a little...so maybe I did have a bit of impact...small ways.

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    1. I'm just beginning to see the impact I've had on various people's lives. I'm sure you had more impact than what you think you did.

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