The other day, I was strolling in the park when the nine-year-old boy I baby-sit asked me the meaning of LGBT. He asked me why big people called some people ‘gay’ like it was some sort of abuse. And why does his mom stop him from playing with the girl next door whose brother was previously a girl? He seemed really upset by all this divide, by this separation and confusion the “adults” had created for him. And so, I tried to look for words to console him. Little did I know that I had no real answer for his simple yet brutally honest questions.
And so, I decided to tell him a story. A story about how people since the beginning of time people have tried to categorise humans. They created separations based on skin-colour, religion, gender, wealth and social status, even per the type of food people ate. And now the most recent division they created is based on people’s liking and living style. Some are straight, some are gay/lesbian, some are transgender and some are bisexual. And somehow, “some people” decided that LGBT people are not good people. They were afraid that the coming of new and different types of people would threaten their own importance, or something like that. And so, these “people” started frowning upon and called the LGBT people with bad names. Some even went so ahead that they indulged in violence. But what they did not realise that below all those categories and names and type-tags these LGBT people were also just humans. And so as fellow humans, we must always try to understand others instead of judging them, like those big people did on T.V.
Till this day, I don’t know how much he understood of what I said, but I did see him convince his mother to allow him to play with his neighbours. So, in my mind he successfully broke the awful cycle of stereotypes and judgements prevailing in his family.
That day I realised that stereotypes are like weeds. They look like plants; they grow like plants. But no one really likes them. And they eat away the plants that you actually like.
Stereotypes that confines a person within their predefined definitions. For example, the boys like blue and girls like pink. I don’t understand why can’t a boy like green and girl like black? Why do they inherently have to be associated with blue and pink respectively when there are so many colours in this world to love. Well, that my dear friend is a stereotype based on gender!
The other day I went out for lunch with few of my friends. One was Chinese, one was British, and then there was me, an Indian girl. We were in the restaurant, ready to place our order when the waiter came and looked expectantly at my white friend to give the order. At the moment, we thought it was funny that he thought me and my Chinese friend didn’t know English, but later felt really bad about it. The fact that he reduced both of us into some stereotype surrounding people of our nationality instead of looking at us as individuals upset me. There we go with stereotypical discrimination based on nationality people!
There is no end to the kind of stereotypes that exist in this world. And the most saddening part about all this is that it only creates a divide among human-kind. It separates them, creates inferiority/superiority complex, puts a limit on people’s abilities, and worst of all, it makes people question their own worth and value.
What makes it worse is the fact that the Entertainment sector, i.e. cinema and T.V. still largely focus on presenting an image set in stone from the stone-age. What todays’ generation needs is a proper and diverse representation of people, free of generic stereotypes, with individuality and positivity. And though there is still need of work and attention, I’m happy to see that already there are shows that are positively promoting different lifestyles and the LGBT society. Characters like Emily from Pretty Little Liars (lesbian), Jamal from Empire (gay), transgender actress Laverne Cox of Orange is The New Black, etc. are a forward step taken by the entertainment industry to normalise the existence of this special part of society. And I like to believe that it is helping someone realise that they are normal and every bit worthy of love, just like those characters.
This gives me hope for humanity. This gives me hope that one day in future people will be more accepting and kind to each other. They will judge less and understand more. And they will realise that at the end of the day, they all are just humans. Until then let’s keep on doing what Selena Gomez does, and “Kill ‘em with kindness”!