I have long liked the movie Pleasantville, and only recently did I realize it’s all about coming out, in a way. Even though the movie may seem to focus on what would be considered a kind of racial stereotyping, it certainly fits for me in coming out.
I suppose one of the facts about being human is that we tend to like to be around others who are somewhat similar to ourselves. It’s the “people-like-us” syndrome. Keeping things nicely uniform, maintaining certain standards, upholding particular moral teachings. All these things are good. But they can have a dark side, like anything else.
I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I always have. That has been part of my hard battle with the “people-like-us” syndrome. The other part is the fact that I am queer. And, now that I see that it is a fact and not some defect or bad choice, it magnifies my anger with the “people-like-us” syndrome.
(Now that I am in my early stages of coming out, I must admit: all I really want to do is be with others who are like me. I want to be with lots of hairy men, rubbing fur together, dancing and getting really sweaty, and . . . . . Well, you get the picture.)
I see nothing wrong with wanting to be with people of similar taste, touch, smell, etc. But when we set up our likes and desires as the standard of behavior for everyone else, it becomes a choke-hold on others. A demand that you should “be like me.”
It may get to the point of becoming a mind set that says “if you aren’t acting like me, looking like me, behaving like me, thinking like me, voting like me. . . . . . then there is something wrong with you.
Another angle on the “people-like-us” syndrome is really more insidious: All you have to do is be-like-me. The answer to your problem (read: MY problem with you) is to be like me. Think, act, behave, love. . . . like me.
Back to my ADD: for decades I beat myself up; “why can’t I be like other folk. Why can’t I stick to what I’m doing, follow through on projects, remember to do things, or plan ahead. Why can’t I be like other people.” A lot of years, a lot of pain, a lot of self-loathing. Why can’t I? Because I am different. I am not like other people. My brain does not work that way.
Of course, the same self-loathing, the same kind of questions arose in my soul regarding my deep attraction to other males. “Why won’t this go away? Why can’t I stop these feelings? What am I doing wrong? Can’t I get it right? Why don’t I seem to be like everyone else?”
Over the years, I have been asked by others (particular my grandmothers, who whined me into submission), “Why can’t you be like other children.” And, over the years, as I tried to think in a straight line (no pun intended, but it’s a pretty good one), plan and work like everyone else, be a good straight (not queer) little boy, and big boy and young man.
Prayed over, exorcized, years of therapy, many years beseeching God to make me straight, convincing God that God got my imago Dei all wrong. Tears, fears, guilt, shame. You know.
One of my big beefs with the Church right now is this constant chant to “just be like us.” All you have to do is. . . . .
That’s all. Oh.
To accept that there is nothing wrong with me. To accept that this is me, and I like me. This feels victorious!
We all got issues. We all got problems. I’m not claiming perfection here. But in accepting myself and denying the demands of others to conform, I am able to accept others even more easily. And, it also allows me to focus on what real problems/issues I have.
Is it any reason I’ve always loved rainbows?
(Thanks to Kelly for the picture and challenge. The picture is posted above, as a separate post.)