It's So Hard To Stay Nice (Part Two)

You're different. Everyone's made it clear to you all your life. Strangers, teachers, peers, and for many, even parents. You've suffered. No one understands. But you're still alive, you've made it through even the worst of times.

And just when you're starting to feel a little stronger about yourself...just when you're thinking, "hey, I'm going to step out into this world tomorrow and be proud of who I am!" Just when you're feeling it...someone kicks you from behind yet again. But you have to stand back up...yet again. That's what you have to learn from Constance's story.

I'm unsurprised but still disgusted to find out what happened recently to Constance McMillen - the lesbian teen whose school cancelled prom so that she wouldn't go.

The parents who had been organizing a private prom, the one she was supposedly invited to, tricked her into going to the wrong location. YEP, they sent her to some "fake prom" along with 7 other kids (2 of which have disabilities). So there you go, that's high school for you.

This is the stuff of MEAN GIRLS. This is the stuff of nightmares a-la showing up to school naked. This is the kind of stuff unpopular kids go through. This feels so personal. I may not be lesbian, I may not have gone on a public mission to challenge my school's discriminatory actions, but I was an outcast. But not to this extreme. Many of us have had moments like this, but not in such a massive and public way. Imagine, your whole school turns its back on you. How is that? Not one person informed Constance or the other 7 people that they were being sent to a fake prom.

Yet if you read this short article, you'll see that Constance said they all had a blast - all 7 of them. They did so because that's what the outcasts do. The popular thing dies after high school, and then the outcasts move on to do great things. Some popular kids make it too, but from my experience, the ones who really made me suffer didn't go too far.

Some people just don't get the pride. The pride that comes with years of experience as a person of DIFFERENCE. But those who are different get it. No matter what marks you as different, and no matter what extreme of different you are, if you're different you get it. There will be a point when you must decide - I will no longer give in. I am not a mat.

You have to get up every time, and you have to stand proud. Be DIFFERENT! Be BLACK, be LESBIAN, be WOMAN, Be ASIAN, be LATINO, be WHO EVER YOU ARE. And be it proud! Don't you let others beat you up literally or figuratively. Don't let others beat the YOU out of you. Don't give in.

I'm so touched, so incredibly touched, by this infuriating yet uplifting story of DIFFERENCE.



It's So Hard To Stay Nice

I say it over and over to myself all the time - it's so hard to stay nice.

If you're a nice person deep down, it slowly gets beaten out of you over time. It's beaten out much faster of those who struggle in more ways than others - those of color, those suffering from poverty, those with any mark of "difference."

Take a look at Constance McMillen, who's high school canceled it's prom just to stop her from wearing a suit and going with her girlfriend. Sure, the parents organized a private prom that will be open to students of any sexual orientation. But last I heard, Constance stated she's not even sure she'll go because she has to see how her peers treat her back on campus after this huge ordeal. All she wanted to do was wear a suit and bring a gal.

I can't begin to tell you how many guys I saw cross-dressing and fake-fondling one another in my high school years - from some cross-dressing fashion shows to male beauty pageants. As long as they weren't "serious," no one complained.

But for others, the harsh realities of our troubled world kicks in much much younger. Young children, abused in so many ways, around the world. Those who are most disadvantaged, neglected, and ostracized are the most vulnerable. It's the typical, "well, it's terrible what happened to Chelsea King, but what about all the daily, unreported, sexual crimes against young black girls in poor communities? You never see their faces on nation-wide news..."

There is so much cause for bitterness. There are so many reasons to become calloused as we get older. Cynical. But we must fight cynicism, as Conan O'Brien so eloquently put it on his final night on the Tonight Show.

I realized that I had let myself become somewhat cynical, and upon hearing O'Brien, who specifically directed his message to young people...well, I was touched. Yet I haven't been able to shake it off fully. I still struggle to stay nice. I am still scared of people sometimes, because I fear getting hurt or cut down in some way. For the longest time I was convinced that "everyone's fake." Then I realized, no, people are afraid to open up. Once you open yourself up to someone - you know, cutting the crap - you can't take it back. They've seen you. So people shell up and say "hey, how are you, let's have coffee sometime" without caring much to follow up.

So now, as much as I struggle to take in all the ugly stuff during the day - sarcastic remarks by a casual acquaintance, blatant attitude from a stranger, upsetting stories of tragedy and injustice on the news, disrespectful men on the city streets...I try to shake it off because I don't want to become mean. Plus, it would be too easy to become mean. To be open-minded, and to take in more perspectives than your own, that's hard. And it's a task that can never be truly fulfilled.

For what it's worth to any struggling reader out there, I want to reach out to you and say, don't give in. Let someone into your soul. Then others will let you into theirs.