Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Embracing Differences

Friday morning before climbing out of bed, I did my usual routine.

I woke up to the Pat White show on 1250 The River, WGL; one of my 4 radio stations.

I tuned into Morning Joe on MSNBC.

And I checked my email on my Droid.

There was a blog update from one of my daughters who is brutally and yet tactfully honest.

Rachael tackled the subject of Bullies and recent events that have been in the news.

And with her permission I'll share her post with you in a moment.

A couple years ago, my wife went to a political demonstration and lovingly confronted both factions of opposing sides on the health care debate and by talking to them and with them, was able to bring out the common ground that everyone agreed on instead of the issues that divided them.

Embracing Differences comes after we find our common ground. Try it and you may be surprised at what you discover.

Now here's my daughter:

It gets better

I'm not gay.

I'm just different.

I'd say I only experienced a very moderate amount of bullying and teasing at school.

But for a small farm school in the middle of nowhere, Indiana, we had our fair share of freaks & geeks.

And gay and lesbian teens.

Some of them were my friends. Hiding out together in creative writing and drama clubs, we carved out a little safe place.
I couldn't guess what happened during the rest of the day for some of my friends.

For me, early in high school I was eschewed as a nerd, a freak, ass-kisser, brown-noser, and suck up. Once I started dating, I was mostly referred to as a slut.
I was more or less oblivious to a lot of the commentary, since I didn't have that many friends to feed me the rumor mill.

And the things I did hear, while stinging, I managed to learn to disregard. I was a smart kid, and I got along with my teachers very well, which allowed me a lot of privileges (in that limited high school world). And I was very flirtatious, touchy, and I had sex.
All and all I escaped relatively unscathed.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of kids who don't.
The media has been full of blips of kids, gay, lesbian, or just different, who have taken their own lives because of bullying and tormenting from their peers and lack of support from those who are supposed to care for them. My heart breaks for these kids.

At a very terrible and low point in my life, I did contemplate its end.

It's not a secret, and my amazing family is the reason I am here, and whole. And happy.
The point is, there are places where bigotry and narrow-mindedness don't exist. Sometimes you can go there, sometimes you have to make them for yourself. And after you find a place where you can love yourself, and surround yourself with people who love you, it gets better.

Writer Dan Savage has begun an amazing project of compiling inspirational stories of men and women (and everything in between) telling their stories of how their lives have gotten better even though at some point they thought that it never would. Check them out at

Also, there is an amazing resource for young adults (or anyone) who is feeling lost, depressed, or suicidal. Apparently these people have been helping kids since I was in high school, but they've gotten a fresh boost of publicity and attention along with the deaths of the kids they're trying to help.

Take a look, remember that the only way to end bullying and intolerance is to lead and love by example, and help end this tragedy.


  1. Anonymous8:37 AM

    Wow, this post is from the heart. How courageous of you to share so honestly. Thank you for sharing the links. When I was in my late twenty's I had the good fortune of meeting a lady who collected people, there was Aunt Bob the cross dressing truck driver, a family that had adopted 12 special children, a Quaker new call to peace group, writers, musicians (my ticket into the club) and others. She did not define the group other then identifying any of us as "one".She would say, "Well... you know she's one." I always took it to mean we did not quite fit the sociably accepted norms.

    Maybe if all us "ones" shared as Mr. Savage has the world could/would be a kinder place.

  2. Thanks for telling your story about "ones".

    While it might be easier to notice the differences, it is more rewarding to find the points of common interest.

    And thanks to my daughter for writing and allowing me to share with others.