I have seen it everywhere. Social media, coffee mugs, t-shirts… “LIVE YOUR TRUTH.” Almost always, it is in the context of supporting someone whose identity has traditionally been marginalized: Gays, Lesbians, Trans, etc. And that is a wonderful thing. People waste far too much time forcing themselves into boxes built by and for the average community at large, whether for their safety, or just because the human need to be loved is so strong that we are afraid our true nature would leave us connection-less. Stop trying to be someone you are not. The world will adjust.
That’s not to say that everyone will like or love you if you do. But really, do they all like and love you now? Probably not. I mean, there are people out there who hate Hugh Jackman fer gossakes. What chance to the rest of us mere mortals have? But even tho you will still have some who aren’t happy with you, are mean to you even, you are likely no worse off than you were before, only now you don’t have the stress of a lifelong masquerade to add to it. Look to the others already living their truth for proof.
For example, there are people out there whose truth is that they are misogynistic, racist assholes. And they have no problem living that out loud every day. They know people disagree. They know some people hate them for it. They don’t care. They just keep on being true to themselves. Why should they get have all the fun? And on the opposite end, there are those who have no problem living large as ancient Jewish Democratic Socialists. They know there are haters. They don’t care. The rest of us should be just as determined to be true to ourselves.
Maybe your truth is that the spirituality of your African roots saved you, and wearing a dashiki helps you honor that. That is awesome! Do it! There will be some who look at you strangely or make rude comments, but plenty of us will be eager to hear what it means to you.
Maybe your truth is that your soul is a patchouli loving, bra banning, clove-cigarette smoking earth mamma. Some will make snide remarks, call you names. I’m not going to be eager to stand downwind of you, but like most people, i won’t hate you for it. I will still be respectful of you, even as i continue wearing pretty much anything but patchouli oil.
Maybe your truth is that you are a nudist, polyamorous vegan. Good for you! I hope you are able to find a group of people who share your same culture and values so that you can live your truth every moment of every day…. I may even come visit… But don’t show up nude for work.
Because here’s the thing…
Sometimes, being a good citizen means knowing when living your truth is detrimental to the populace at large.
I have heard people say that “gay behavior” is bad for the populace at large because it goes against Christian values. This, to my way of thinking, is incorrect. Public displays of blatantly sexual behavior are bad for the populace at large, but that is not a “gay issue.” No one should be having sex in the street. Downtown Springfield on a random Friday isn’t Mardi Gras… People aren’t expecting to watch your carnal exploits, and most would probably rather not. Consensual sex in private, gay or straight, causes no such issue.
I’ve heard people say that tattoos and weird hair colors and men who wish to wear skirts are a detriment to society. I have a few tattoos, and i fail to see how they harm anyone. That being said, if you have “Fuck you” tattooed across your forehead, there is an issue. Not with the tattoo, but with the sentiment. It’s just flat out rude to everyone. Hair colors? The definition of “weird” evolves over time – Hell, when i first stopped dying my hair, i caught flack for letting it be grey and white! But it is hair, and fashion trends wax and wane. Hard to regulate that. But again, if you work for a boss who has warned you not to dye your hair green, and you do it anyway, you should not be surprised if you get called to the mat for it. Same with the men in skirts, i suppose – tho i understand that one less. A woman can wear menswear, and no one bats an eye. Why is it allowed in one direction and not the other?
I think, what it boils down to is just learning to accept that no matter how any one of us lives, there will always be naysayers. Every choice in life has consequences. And even if i think it’s stupid for someone to be fired because they wore eyeliner to work, and the company has a rule about men wearing makeup; the fact of the matter is that you now have two adult choices: You fight it in the correct way – with arbitration or a lawyer – or you find another job. (I hope you fight it, because that really is stupid. ) Choosing to scream like a banshee on social media without taking any real steps to change things is juvenile and pointless. Trying to make a policy where the rest of the men also have to wear eyeliner just because you like it is also juvenile, and it is disrespectful to others’ truths.
Be an adult. Advocate for the freedom of individual choice. Stand up straight, speak clearly and with civil words. Make your voice heard. If necessary, protest and boycott. But do not set out to do deliberate, spiteful damage. I know that lately our country has seemingly forgotten how to have meaningful discourse and come to compromise. We also seem to have lost the ability to live and let live. But on the flip side, there are others who have forgotten that, while being civil to your neighbors and fellow citizens should be expected, as should the certainty of personal safety, there is no promise that they will all agree with you, nor can you expect them all to join in your bandwagon. The best we can hope for is that we all learn to play nice.
Which we all know is a pipe dream. There will always be Christians who aren’t very Christ-like. There will always be civil servants who aren’t civil. There will always be free-love hippies who aren’t very loving. We are humans, first and foremost, after all. And humans can be really mean and hateful.
But keep living your truth, if for no other reason than to offset the schmucks. It will be difficult at times, but keep at it. Because even tho we can be assholes, humans can also be supportive and loving and giving. We can be kind. We can extend the hands of brother and sisterhood. We can become friends with those who look, act, pray, dress differently than we do. We’ve done it before. Remember, there was a time when a woman could be arrested for wearing pants. But we grew past it. We opened our minds and grew.
So i don’t care if your truth is that you are a Kenny G loving woman who wants to live as a meercat. Do your job, be nice to your neighbors, and don’t make anyone else live as a meercat. If anyone tries to hurt you for your choice, lots of us will be here to defend you. (Ok, we’ll defend the meercat thing. I can’t promise about the Kenny G.) We don’t have to understand it. But if you aren’t hurting anyone, we will do out best not to let them hurt you. We might not defend your right to work as a brain surgeon, because, last i checked, they weren’t allowing meercats into medical school. But we will defend your ability to exist as a free citizen. It won’t be easy, and lots of people will balk. But sooner or later, things will level out, because the vast majority of people are decent.
Most of us learned in the sandbox to play nice and keep our hands to ourselves. Then we grew up and moved on, remembering the lesson. Others are still in the same sandbox, biting, throwing sand, peeing in the corner… And they wonder why no one will let them out or play with them. But their truth is that they are tantrum-laden toddlers. So the adults will respect that and treat them as such.