A small gesture can change a life

Warning:  This post is about homosexuality – if this offends you, I suggest you stop reading now 🙂

I would also appreciate it that if you find anything offensive, or wish to share any negative thoughts, that you don’t p0st your feelings on the matter in the comments, but that you keep those thoughts to yourself.  While you’re also entitled to your opinions, inflammatory comments will be immediately deleted.

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Tonight on Facebook I followed a link published by a gay colleague to a YouTube video by Pixar (“It Gets Better”).  In this video clip numerous gay people, both male and female, told how they struggled in their youth with bullying etc, and reinforcing that things will get better, for young people struggling with this issue today to look forward to a brighter future as “it will get better” over time.

I have been struggling with my own personal demons this year, which came to a head a couple of months ago, and perhaps it’s just the frame of mind I’m in tonight, but something resonated with me tonight with this YouTube video.  No, I’m not saying that I’m gay (not that that would be a bad thing) … but I have numerous gay friends, and in fact most of my friends from high school have turned out to be gay (both male and female) – in fact, I think my best friend and I have ended up being the only straight ones in the entire group!  But I did have one story growing up that has always stuck with me …

I met Roseanne at work when I was in my early-mid 20’s, and we used to go out nightclubbing etc on a semi-regular basis, and checked out guys like most other girls.  ‘Rox’ was my closest friend at work, and when we’d had a particularly tough day at work we’d head off to the ‘local family restaurant/pub’ up the road and share a bit plate of chips/french fries and have a game of pool.  One particular day she said to me very earnestly that she had something to say to me, and that she hoped I’d take it OK … my immediate reaction was to say the most outrageous thing that came to my mind … “oh don’t tell me, you’re a raving lesbian!”.  When her jaw hit the ground, I took one look at her face then my jaw joined hers … when she said “well, that was easy”, we both cracked up and howled!  To be honest my initial reaction was “wow, how do I feel about this?” – in a split second my mind had already worked out that she was the same person she was 10 seconds ago, so why should her sexuality make any difference?

She only ever confided in myself and her best friend – they had been best friends since the beginning of time.  After that announcement that particular friend (I use that term loosely) to this day has never spoken to her again – her religious beliefs were paramount to their friendship, all 15-20 years of it.  Apologies to anyone who fosters these same beliefs, I don’t mean to offend, but that’s an alien thought for me, as it’s not the way I’ve been brought up.  I’ve always been brought up to accept people for who they are – that’s not to say I’m perfect in that regard in any shape or form, but I’ve certainly tried to foster those feelings as I’ve grown up into the mature old biddy that I am today.

I’ve had a few discussions with people when they have made statements that homosexuality is something an individual chooses.  I have a very simplistic view of this – why on earth would someone choose to invite ridicule, bullying and non-acceptance in society if they had a choice?  I know gay people who have struggled with acceptance, and put up with listening to bigoted comments from some people when I was living in Melbourne in particular – these feelings are just so alien to how I’ve been brought up, I struggle to understand this stance.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I accept that not everyone can have the same viewpoint, but it still saddens me to see people ridiculed and pigeonholed for one aspect of their lives and a very small part of who they are as people.

Anyway, that video clip brought me to tears tonight – when I think of all the people out there growing up without a support system as they struggle to come to grips with their sexuality, or being ‘outside the norm’ and not in society’s perfect mould … I remember those days at work when Rox and I kept her secret for a number of years before she felt comfortable with making it more public (including telling her parents).  Many conversations were had about her boyfriend Don (who was in fact her girlfriend Donna) – and my Mum, bless her soul, accepted Rox with open arms (as well as Donna at our dinner table occasionally).  It makes me reflect tonight how different Rox’s struggle may have been without having at least one person as a support during that difficult time, especially as she had already been spurned by the closest friend she had growing up.

I sit here reflecting tonight, as I feel fed up in some aspects of my life (mainly during the working week) … that a simple gesture of acceptance and caring has the potential to have a huge impact on another life.  This simple act that costs nothing at the time can make a huge difference to someone … and quite frankly, knowing that feels good.  While we’ve never discussed it outright, I’d like to hope that my acceptance and support 20 years ago made a positive impact for Rox.  I do know that she is an incredibly caring person who is very much at peace with herself (as is her family), and it’s a pleasure to still call her friend, even if we haven’t seen each other for about about 5 years.

And on that note of melancholy and reflection, I also want to give a massive vote of thanks to my Mum by raising me to have an open mind and not judging people for their race, colour, religion or anything else.  I am reminded of the many kindnesses that my mother has shown to everyone who has touched her path during her lifetime – she is the most caring soul who never has a bad word to say about anyone (well, OK, barring her husband occasionally) … and now in her 70’s she’s started volunteering at the local rest home to give the elderly residents some company and assistance.  Your caring and nurturing nature never ceases to amaze me, Mum!  If I end my life as being only one-tenth as compassionate and caring as my Mum has been all my life, I will deem that as a successful and ethical life well lived.  Mum, you are truly my role model, and I am blessed and proud to call you my Mum xx 😀

See, I told you it was a very reflective mood tonight!  But in a good way, as I’m trying to retain a positive demeanour during the working week, and reminding me of life’s goodness helps to retain that balance! 😀

And I promise the next post I’ll be back to my stitching posts again! 😛

20 thoughts on “A small gesture can change a life

  1. Good for you, Anne! (And good for your Mum too – I remember when the two of you visited me, and how much I liked your Mum). Ken’s father worked at the SEC with a bloke (J) who was gay, and they were close friends right up to the day Pop died. J. introduced his friends to Ken’s parents over the years, and they were accepted and loved as much as the rest of the family. Ken and I are particularly close to one couple (guys) who share a love of native birds with us.
    Long before I met Ken (when I was in my teens) I was involved with a guy in a rock band, and although he was straight, the others were gay. I didn’t think anything about it – they were all beaut blokes in my opinion!
    When it comes to lesbians though, I’m a bit wary, only because I’ve had a few ladies come on strong to me at times, and I was very uncomfortable about it. I don’t care what they do with their other friends, I’m just not interested….just love men!

    • I have to admit with Rox I was still a little uncomfortable when I met her and Donna together for the first time and they were cuddling etc – but after that first moment of discomfort I was fine, it just took that moment of adjustment because that experience was entirely new to me. Of course now working for an airline there is quite a high percentage of gay people working there, so it is a truly accepting workplace and I love that! Thanks for sharing your stories Gina 🙂

  2. This post not offended me. 🙂
    I have a open mind.
    I do not know what to write… my English is not so good.
    Respect for others is very important.

    Hugs,
    Lili

  3. *applause* *applause*

    Well written. I wish there were more people out there who think as you (and I ) do. I think the world would be a much happier place if folks would just accept people as they are and let all the other stuff go.

    I’ve always felt the mind is like a parachute – it works best when open! 🙂

  4. Wow-finally someone who can write about this and express almost the exact same feelings I have in my head. For me, it hits a little closer to home-my 15 year old son is gay, and “came out” in 7th grade. Yes that’s right, when he was 13. You might think we live in a big US city, where all is accepted, but actually, we live in a small town, in rural Northern California. My biggest fear was that he would be a constant target of bullying by the rednecks (and their kids) in town. But for the most part, he is accepted for who he is. What is ironic to me, is the kids that do give him the most grief are the “religious types”, the ones that find it so easy to pass judgement on something they have been told is wrong, by their narrow-minded parents. I makes me furious-as you said, who would “chose” a lifestyle that invites bullying, fear, and the risk of not being accepted.
    Thank you for taking the risk of bringing this topic up, you get a big hug along with the standing ovation from me!

    • Thank you so much for your story Susan – I have to admit I woke up this morning with an “oh goodness, what have I done?” feeling … I’ve been really humbled by all the comments this morning, and I’m so glad I made the post. Of course I’m still bracing myself for some backlash too 🙂 I know I’m very naive where religion is concerned, as I’m not particularly religious myself, but I don’t understand the non-acceptance and absolute vehemence of some. I always thought that religion taught to accept and love mankind in all its shapes and sizes, so it feels alien to me this non-acceptance. My ex-flatmate was devoutly religious and I questioned her one day why it was that she had a gay guy as one of her best friends at work when she was so devout – she didn’t really say too much except that her mother feels more strongly about it than she does, and that she really likes Scott. Bravo to her too for flouting the traditional stance 🙂

      It’s wonderful that your son has been accepted by most in the town, and in particular by those that you would expect not to. It saddens me, though, that the others cannot open their minds and with it their hearts 😦 Thanks so much for sharing your story – it means a lot to me 🙂

  5. Bravo, Anne, for posting this…

    I had similar experiences to you with your friend; I had one friend who never actually came out of the closet to me, but when ran into each other in Sydney (we worked at the same company in Melbourne, and it was by pure coincidence we were in Sydney at the same time), we went to a few gay bars together, as she was travelling with some gay friends. We had a good time.

    I’m sorry that Rox’s best friend was not such a best friend at all.

    Big {{{hugs}}} to your mum for being such a great mum!

    • Thanks Susan for sharing your story too – it has really bolstered me up this morning. One of my favourite work friends in Melbourne is gay too – she keeps her private life very much to herself and only lets people into that circle when I guess she feels comfortable and feels her relationship will be respected, so I’ve been very privileged to meet her partner on a few occasions – every time we’ve gone out as a group those two kept us entertained all night with their wit, knowledge and conversation. I really miss them here in Sydney 😦

  6. Great post Anne. My uncle finally came out to the whole family at 50 when his partner fell seriously ill. I, along with my younger cousins, had long since realised he was gay and his partner was someone who I thought of as an uncle. It mattered not a bit to me who he chose to have relationships with but it did make me sad that he didn’t feel able to come out to us all earlier as it made no difference to any of the family’s relationship with him.

    • Thanks for sharing that 🙂 It is really sad that he couldn’t share, but how wonderful that everyone in the family was so accepting of it and able to provide the emotional support that he needed at the time. Hopefully his life has been further enriched with that burden removed 🙂

      I wish my family were so supportive. I have a gay cousin in the UK that I’ve always been close to – he’s been openly gay for many years, and I think the family always knew he was gay really. Once again I’ve never held that against him and always accepted him for who he is, which is probably why we got on so well when I was younger. When I visited the UK once Tony took me to a gay nightclub with his friend and a lesbian friend (so it would appear we’re a couple and I wouldn’t get bothered as much) – I had a total blast, the music was awesome and we danced most of the night. I still got chatted up by some of the ladies, but to be honest it didn’t bother me, we just told everyone that I was straight and laughed at the comments “oh what a shame” and I had a total blast all night. A day or two later I was visiting one of my aunts, and she told me I should be careful as I’d get myself a reputation for going out with gay people! What the …?! Firstly I didn’t give a rats patootie what anyone thought about me, and fancy judging me for having a night out on the town with gay people, oh the family shame … pfffft! Unfortunately some of my family are not quite as accepting or forgiving – this same aunt told me that Tony was always welcome at her house, but his boyfriends weren’t. In some sections of our family hypocrisy is alive and kicking 😦

      I will always be thankful to my Mum for raising me differently – it was one of the most blessed gifts I could have been giving 🙂

  7. Hi Anne – not sure if you remember me, I was always Stitchie Kiwi (Lisa) and although am still stitching my current blog tells what I’m up to these days.

    Anyway, coming out of lurkdom to congratulate you on your post – very well said. Like Susan, I have a son who has told us he is gay – he is 16yo. Right through school he has always been a bit different from the other boys but always, always, had such a great inner confidence that he’s never been (thankfully) subjected to bullying. He has a great group of friends who accept him for who he is, and lucky for him, a family that is also very accepting. I was more relieved than anything else when he told us as I had been worrying about whether he was confused and whether we should intervene in someway – so it was relief to know he had worked it all out and is happy with who he is. Thankfully my husband thinks the same as me and there has been no conflict at all – I think he is a lucky boy to have that, so many people haven’t. Of course I’d rather he wasn’t, mostly because I worry about the hard road he has ahead of him, being “different” to the “normal” in society, but no matter what, he is still Josh and always will be, his sexual orientation doesn’t change that 🙂

  8. Anne, this is a wonderful post. I have several friends who are homosexual, one of whom is one of my best friends from high school and remains a good friend to this very day. I am so glad that Rox had you during such a challenging time in her life. I remember when I was a freshman in college and was talking to the floor mentor about another best friend from high school who had come out several months before. She was a very religious person and her response to me was “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” I was floored. And honestly, I never had any sort of lengthy conversations with that woman again.

    This recent rash of highly-publicized suicides makes me so very sad. When my one friend came out to us in high school, it was such a non-issue, you wouldn’t even believe it. He was such an incredibly charismatic person and we all loved him to pieces. It just didn’t matter in the least. It doesn’t matter with my other friend who came out after high school and with whom I still have a friendship even now (I lost touch with the one after high school and have tried many, many times to find him with no success). He just wants a stable, loving and lasting relationship like any of us. And he deserves that. In fact, he deserves to be able to get married or have some officially, legally recognized union. But that’s a whole other topic.

    The bottom line for me is that sexual preference does not change who you are. I wish that these bullies would grow up and not taunt these kids to death (literally). Those years are tough enough with all of the changes and phases of self-discovery; no one needs to be mercilessly ridiculed for what they discover in the process.

    Wow, this was a long-winded comment. I apologize for that, but your post just really, really resonated with me very deeply. Hugs to you, my dear friend, for being the incredible, loving person that you are. And kudos to Dragon Mum for raising such an amazing woman!

  9. I met up with a classmate from high school recently who told me how incredibly difficult it was for her to come out and I just felt so bad – why should this change people’s feelings for each other? I don’t care if someone goes home to a man or a woman at the end of the day – that person is my friend regardless, and for the life of me I cannot understand why so many people can’t accept this and go on with life.

  10. I have had a number of friends and work mates in same sex relationships and whilst I understand their concerns about declaring their sexuality I do not understand while less accepting people make such a big deal about it.I do not think a person chooses to be gay but rather it is a way of being.A friendship that ends because of an alternative sexual orientation was never a friendship to begin with. Yes , same sex couples begin openly affectionate in public can be initially confronting but that is our issue not theirs.

  11. Very good post Anne, I wish there were more people like you (and your mother) around – I’ve never been able to understand why some people think other people’s private lives are their business, and it makes me really sad to hear about people like Rox’s “best friend”.

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