Today, my hero was my thirteen-year-old cousin.
He’d been talking all week about this “Day of Silence” thing they were planning for Friday. I don’t know too much about this project othern than the fact that it’s a national protest against the bullying and harrassment of homosexuals. By that– I mean Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans-gender people. I’m not a fan of the silly acronym they use because it always makes me want to eat a BLT sandwich. And I’m also not a believer in defining sexual preferences; I think people should just be themselves and, so long as it’s consenting humans that are fucking, everything is all great. And lord knows gender-roles are a bunch of unreasonable nonsense. Some people may disagree with these ideas but those people are worthless bastards who need to hurry up and evolve already.
Anyway. Today came, and he didn’t say a word all morning. Apparently, when he got to school (he goes to middle school, 8th grade), he and his friends were going to put some black tape over their mouths and then go about their business silently. I wished him good luck.
Now let me say that, here on Long Island, racism and homophobia still abound. I’ve always felt that this is a land where individuality comes to die. The “music scene” is vapid; nobody want to hear anything new, much preferred are cover bands that play all the “classic hits of the 60s and 70s” and maybe the newest single from Nickleback. Art galleries seem to be filled to the brim with paintings of the historic Montauk lighthouse and/or photographs that are quite worthy of Hallmark-Card-type fame. When I was his age, 15 years ago, I was told I wasn’t allowed to date black girls. There are rich towns here on Long Island, and there are black towns. There are “Mexicans,” which is of course a blanket term for anyone that comes from anyplace that is south of Texas; be it Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, on and on. In fact, the only group of Latinos that get any recognition are the Puerto Ricans; probably because most people assume they will cut you and steal your car stereo. And as far as the gays… well I think everyone here assumes there are no gays here. This is the cultural climate of Long Island.
So I wasn’t shocked when my little cuz came home from school today in a tornado of tears and sweat and curse-words. He had done as planned: didn’t speak a word in school all day. Unfortunately, and quite predictably, most of his friends chickened out. So it was him and a handful of other kids standing up for human rights. He said everyone called him a faggot, and a couple of kids even threatened him with stabby-stabby (they held a sharpened pencil and a cafeteria knife up to his throat) if he didn’t break the vow of silence. Apparently, one girl got pizza and cheez-doodles thrown in her hair in an attempt to make her scream… because some people think shreiking is the same thing as talking. But the few that were brave enough to put the cause before themselves, well they stood their fucking ground like champions.
After the boy had come down from the crying, he engaged his parents and I in a good conversation about human rights and outdated morals. He asked questions about the bible and declared that “religion is stupid if it just divides people.” He said we shouldn’t live our lives based on a book that was written 2000 years ago. I agreed of course. Even his Catholic parents conceeded that some things in the bible need to be reexamined.
I just think this boy is amazing sometimes. When I was 13, I just spent all my time playing guitar and getting high and daydreaming about vagina. I was pretty tough when it came to standing up for myself, sure. But I really don’t think I was big enough to make a stand for anything that didn’t directly have an impact on my small life.
Thank god that, though some of them are clearly retarded, kids are still cleaning up after the mistakes the former generations have always made. I really hope that, in my lifetime, I get to see that all lifeforms on this planet are considered to be truly equal. And I think, with people like my little cousin in the world, it may actually happen. Beautiful.