Oasis Name: Cynical1inthecorner
Real Name: Alli
Location: New England
Ummm....I don't really know what to put here, so if someone could tell me, that'd be grand. Also, I know this sucks. Please, please help me revise this in as many ways as possible.
Well, here it goes.
The story starts with a little girl and her grandfather walking down the beach. They walk side-by-side, and are having quite a good time. As they walk, the tide goes out. And as they walk, the little girl notices that hundreds of starfish are stranded on the beach as the water recedes—they will almost certainly die. She runs from her grandfather's side and begins picking up the starfish and throwing them back into the sea.
Her grandfather goes to her. “Why are you doing that?” He asks, confused. “There's no way you can save them all—there's so many, you won't be able to make a difference.”
The little girl looks at her grandfather, and picks up another starfish. She throws it back into the sea. “I made a difference to that one,” she says. She stoops down and picks up another starfish, and another.“And that one, and that one, and that one.”
I live in a little town in the middle of Nowhere, populated almost completely by white, rich, Christian families. Most of the kids who attend Nowhere High are white—only a few people in each class are anything other than Caucasian.
Diversity is something that is taught in our classrooms, but rarely reaches outside. Walk down the halls and you'll hear a variety of slurs and jokes—racial, religious, and sexual—aimed at people in a form of insult.
Unlike most kids there, I've always been a crusader and proponent for equality and being politically correct. But the thing is, I'm not really any different. I'm white, Christian, and though not rich, my family is well-off. But that's where the similarities end. There is one fundamental difference in my makeup—
But shh, keep it quiet—no one knows. No one knows because I myself am not completely, entirely, and without-a-doubt certain of my sexuality. So I figure it's best to keep it quiet. I figure it's best to keep my head down; to keep my mouth shut so I don't pull a “Bi, no gay—well, actually, it turns out that was just a phase; I'm really straight.”
But despite the silence that I keep so religiously, I've always been a person who fought for equality. Even before I came out to myself, I yelled at people who even thought of using “gay”--or any of the associated words--in a negative and demeaning way. In hindsight, it was probably my subconscious yelling at me to get a clue; but whatever the cause, I've kept fighting the good fight, even while I keep my mouth firmly shut about my own sexuality.
I have to—I have to try to make a difference for others, even if I don't have the courage to make a difference for myself.
You've got to understand—my friends and family are good people, who aren't really that homophobic. They have good friends who are gay, and believe marriage should be between two people who love each other, regardless of their sex.
That being said, some of them are also irritatingly unaware of the small yet still harmful homophobic acts they commit each day.
Take my friend Sam, for example. She's smart, liberal, and all for equality—and gorgeous, and funny and—and, okay, fine, I've also harbored a secret crush on her for ages.
Someone in passing used “gay” in a negative way—so I whipped out the trusty, “Please don't use gay in a negative or derogatory way.” The person—as most do—shut up and apologized. And walked away, doubtless to use “gay” again as soon as they are out of earshot. But I do what I can—I have to.
Sam just looked at me. As soon as the person has left, she said, “Y'know, most gay people don't mind people saying 'gay' like that.”
I paused. I blinked. “Yeah?”
“Mm-hmm. They don't mind at all—the people who do mind are straight.”
Riiiight. Which is why I, a bona fide almost-sure-she's-a-lesbian, is bothered by it so much. Instead of voicing this I said, “I'm sure some people don't mind, but I know some gays who do.”
“Alli,” Sam said, “all of the gay people I know don't mind.”
I struggled to control the thrum of frustration rushing through me, and remained silent, appearing calm. “How many gay people do you know, anyways?”
Well, Jen, and Max, and all those people who populate Oasismag, that gay site I frequently visit—most of whom it bothers. Oh. And me, of course. But I didn't say this—I couldn't.
So I bit my tongue and said nothing. The conversation ended, and she walked away. I wonder if she knows this conversation will bother me all day. How can my wonderful crush not think using gay improperly is wrong? I wonder if she'll remember this conversation when I do come out to her, and think back to it and say—huh, I guess I was wrong. I wonder if from then on she'll think of me, and never say “The gay people I know don't mind” again.
I wonder...well, I wonder a lot of things. But in the end, I just have to shrug and go on with my life.
And that's it—that's the end. No proper conclusion, no happy ending. It's a scene that repeats itself, again and again; different characters, of course, but the lines always remains the same.
And every time, I repeat my part, hoping that I might make a difference, wishing I could tell them why it mattered so much to me, and why it should matter to them.
Unlike the little girl with the starfish, I don't know if I'm making a difference. But I have to try, because I might. And if I didn't try, than they would all die.