My friend came to me with a bizarre request. She asked if she could use me as her hero in mythology class. Thinking it would be cool to have a charcter based on me, I agreed. It would be interesting to see which of my traits she decided to use, and what sort of challenges my alter-ego would face. And even if the story wasn't so great, it was still a major compliment.
She went on to explain the project. She needed to pick a real-life hero, a fictional hero, and a famous hero. As soon as she heard the assignment, she knew she'd be writing about me. Ok, I thought, It's not quite what I expected. But this was even better. It's not every day you get the chance to be a hero.
She explained why she picked me. See, I didn't step timidly from the closet door. I came out with a vengence. I saw no problem with being gay, so there was no reason to be ashamed. I knew there would be people who didn't agree with me. I knew I was bound to loose a few friends and put up with a lot of ridicule. But you know what? It's who I was, and I saw no point in trying to act otherwise to please people. I didn't shove my sexuality down anyone's throat, but I didn't try to hide it either. I wore my rainbows, my "I kiss girls" pin, and held my girlfriend's hand with pride. If anyone asked me, I'd be honest with them. There was no question I was afraid to answer, because you never know when you're clearing up a misconception.
I guess this attitude really impressed people, because I've managed to change a lot of minds. Friends who used to be blatantly homophobic have become gay rights activists. People saw how openly I was accepted, and found the courage to be themselves. I never once saw myself as a hero or activist. It was just how I was.
In order to appreciate this situation, you'd need to know a bit about my friend. She was brought up in a very conservative household. Her family had lots of money, and she got everything she ever wanted. To say she was sheltered would be putting it mildy. I was her first "diverse" friend, and that was only because I fell below the poverty line. To the suprise of all around her, she actually grew into a well-adjusted person. She got perfect grades. She found a long-term boyfriend who loved her as much as she loved him. She did volunteer work simply because she enjoyed it. And she still found time to spend with her poverty-stricken friends.
So now I ask you this: How is it that someone like her can look up to a social deviant like me? What happened to the notion that queers are supposed to be hated, feared, ignored, or occasionally accepted? What sort of world is this where a lesbian can be an inspiration to her straight peers? I'm telling you, the times are changing. Role models just aren't what they used to be.