“I Once Lost a Friend” or “It Gets Better”
This post is very personal, so if you are not interested in my personal, non-gaming-related thoughts, feel free to skip this post.
I Once Lost a Friend
In college I had a friend. Let’s call him Harry. Harry was a quiet kid, the sole child of an ultra-Christian family, shy, modest, soft-spoken and always nice. I can’t recall a single moment in the three years that I knew the kid when I saw him frown, or be mean to someone, or even be in a foul mood. I don’t mean to say he was always in a cheery, happy-go-lucky mood, he was a deeply troubled kid, but at least he never added to all the misery in the world.
Harry was raised by parents who stringently adhered to Orthodox Christian beliefs. Since an early age he attended church, learned about how Christ had bled for his sins, and was told that unsavory indulgences like adultery, pre-marital sex and homosexuality were sinful in the eyes of the one true God. Harry came to college with these beliefs and values, and tried as best as he could to follow them to the letter.
But at the end of the day, we are who we are, and at the end of the day, we have to come to terms with our deepest darkest fears and desires. Harry realized partway through sophomore year that he was gay. Girls weren’t his cup of tea, and boys always piqued his curiosity. Given his upbringing, this terrified Harry. On the surface I remember seeing a generally happy but reserved kid turn into a brooding introvert, always seemingly concerned with something, but never forthcoming about the origins of his troubles.
If you can hear any of this Harry, I am terribly sorry. I should have pushed harder, I should have been a better friend, I should have asked you what was bothering you and maybe you wouldn’t have felt so alone. I am sorry I was less of a friend and more of an acquaintance. I am sorry I was oblivious to your plight, busy with studies and girls and booze and other college indulgences, and I am sorry I wasn’t there like I should have been. I am sorry I blew it off when others asked me about what may be troubling you. I am so, so deeply sorry. I wish like anything I could go back and be there for you, but that time is gone. And I can’t take my carelessness back. I am not an idiot, I know it’s not entirely my fault. But I know we could have done something, and again, for that I am so sorry.
They say time heals all wounds. But for Harry, time only added to his burdens. A devoutly religious individual, Harry tried earnestly to ignore and subdue his homosexual tendencies, treating them as a test from God to gauge the depth of his faith. Worst of all, for the fear of being judged, or his parents finding out, Harry never discussed the true source of his troubles with anyone. Ever. Can you imagine how lonely that is? To spend years with a secret locked up inside you that you want to yell out to the world from the tallest building, yet it doesn’t even comes out as a whisper? Can you imagine how alone Harry must have felt, unable to share his troubles, fearful of persecution, ridicule or misunderstanding?
On a cold morning in late April, campus patrol found his body at the base of a building, the eighth floor of which he lived in. They tried reviving him, but he had been there a while, and he was no longer. All that was left behind was a note that shared his confusion, his inability to share his thoughts with anyone, and his shame at not being able to control his feelings.
I am sorry Harry. I should have tried harder. I am sorry you had to bear that alone, and I am sorry your life ended so much sooner than it should have.
It Gets Better, Says EA
What prompted this post is this video from EA:
It Gets Better is a campaign sweeping the U.S. in which LGBT individuals share their experiences and tell those who are still chained by societal constraints to be openly gay. It is an effort to reduce the fear of coming out, to let those who are terrified of coming out know that they are not alone, and that even if it feels like they are between a rock and a hard place with no way out, it does, in fact, get better.
What pissed me off were some of the comments made by the readers below the post on GamePro. My stance on the issue is very clear: Live and let live. if you don’t agree or understand why someone is the way (s)he is, at least have the human decency to let them go about their business unabated, free of persecution. They have the right, just as you do, to live their lives as they see fit.
Here are some of the comments made under the video:
“In regards to homosexuality being a human right: First, I would like to say that I have no problems with individuals being gay, but when it comes down to it, what part of human rights says that we should support and accept them?
A difference in color I can understand; but the scientific fact remains, homosexuals cannot breed. When we begin to dismiss homosexuals and homosexuality as “normal,” we are telling future generations that “we don’t care about the survival of our species.”
Whatever mutation took place in their chromosomal development is not the fault of the rest of the human race.”
I sincerely hope I don’t have to point out the blatant irony in the statements above. And then, there was this gem:
“Why would it matter? These are gaming companies, I don’t give a damn what they think, or what causes they are for. Just make the damn games and STFU. I don’t need to be preached to about their world view.
This is gaming, keep the bullshit out of it.”
Here is the same response inverted, ala what Quadratic1, another commenter said about another similar comment:
“Why would it matter? These are gamers, I don’t give a damn what they think, or what causes they are for. Just play the damn games and STFU. I don’t need to be preached to about their view on what EA should or shouldn’t do.
This is gaming, keep the (homophobic) bullshit out of it.”
Yup, the shoe sure fits.
I don’t mean to be preachy, but the base of all religious is the religion of humanity. Learn to be a decent human being first, accepting of others, tolerant and caring, before you use religion’s peg to discredit the beliefs and lifestyles of an entire portion of the human population.
Live and let live.
And yes, it does get better.