Thursday, September 20, 2012

Guilty of simply being

Amelia is a blogger at Huffington Post and under this pseudonym she has been writing about her 7-year-old son. The kicker here is that her son self-identifies as gay.

"Huh? What? That's nuts! How can a 7-year-old self-identify as gay? He hasn't even hit puberty!"


I know. It's really amazing some of the things people say. Because I find it completely plausible that Amelia's son identifies as gay despite his age. I knew I was gay when I was 4 years old. I just didn't have a word for it. Being gay is not about sex. Our being gay is about who we are as a human being, it's a fundamental trait about ourselves that we intuitively know. We don't need anyone to tell us who we are, we just know.

The words come later. I knew I was a boy even before people labeled me as "boy." And when people started using that word, I began to use it. But I was a boy before I learned that word. Learning the word did not make me a boy.

And I did not become gay once I knew the word. I knew already who I was. Had I known what "gay" meant when I was 4 years old, I would have readily accepted it as a label for who I am, just as Amelia's son accepts the word. By the time, however, I did learn about words like "gay" and "homosexual," I was also learning about words like "fag" and "sissy." So even though I intuitively knew those words were about me, I did not "identify" as such. Rather, I became a ghost.

But enough of that. I want to get to Amelia's most recent post in which she talks about the conversations she knows she'll have to have with her son even though she dreads the moment when they will occur. Nothing very surprising here, these are the conversations we all know about. That yes, there are people who hate us even though they never met us. That we can't give blood, even to a family member. That we cannot marry the person we love. We might not be able to visit that person in the hospital too, and when they die, we might not have any say about what happens to them.

That's not what caught my eye in Amelia's post, however. It was this line:

"My child is guilty of nothing but simply being."

This is such a beautiful statement and its sentiment is at the heart of why Buddhism has been a lifesaver for me. Because unlike other religious doctrines, at least in my experience, Buddhism allowed me to simply be. It showed me how to be a human "being" rather than a human "doing." And it showed me how to escape the pain I was fettering myself with.

Life is unsatisfactory and events seldom go the way I want them to.

The angst I feel day to day about this is self-created because it's my choices that have brought me to where I am right now.

If I can learn to make better choices and become less attached to things and feelings that are merely temporary, I will be happier.

By following the Buddha's path I will free myself of this self-induced drudgery by accepting things as they really are and understand better how my actions now influence what happens next.

So simple, but as Amelia and the world show us every day, not so easy to implement. Dealing with the world around us is no easy task. And for children who identify as gay, it can be brutal. That's because the world is ruled by delusion. Most people are either incapable or simply refuse to see things as they really are. But once you start doing that in even the smallest ways, the transformation is incredible. And what is more astounding is as we begin to see things as they really are, something begins to bubble up from deep inside us, something that was always there, but was blocked and smothered by our deluded egos.

Compassion. And once we have compassion, it doesn't matter what the world throws at us. We become unflappable.

If you haven't read Amelia's blog on Huffington Post, you should. It's a delight.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, if you could see my photo at 4 in pre-school, you would know why my father had to teach my the correct way to throw a ball, and later to walk. But it still never changed me.