I recently read a fantastic post by a trans-man named Graham Daniels about his journey to discovering his true self. It's one of those posts that takes soul to write and a willingness to be vulnerable to publish.
Coming out shouldn't be a big deal. Actually, scratch that. Maybe it should be, but only because it's to be celebrated. You just figured out another part of the puzzle of who you are!
But unfortunately, some parts of our culture are not that good at this stuff. Not that we're against it, just that we haven't experienced it much yet.
When I think about diversity, I think about the time I was saying bye to a trans-woman and said "later man". As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I knew I flubbed up. I wasn't sure if she heard me or not, and we had already parted ways, so I didn't bring it up.
I did feel bad though.
Not so much that I messed up, but more so that I lost an opportunity to show respect to someone. To act the way I truly feel, that she is who she is and that's fantastic.
Not that my opinion even matters. It's just that she should be able to be herself without being reminded about my lack of experience with diversity.
And that's where I'm bad at it all. I grew up in a small town in the heart of Texas. I was raised Catholic in a very conservative Christian town. I'm a white male living the average white male life.
I don't believe any of these things are bad in themselves, but it does mean I grew up without certain experiences. My friends were/are mostly white; not necessarily by choice but more just availability. When you're surrounded by lots of white people, you have lots of white friends.
Again, I don't feel any shame in that. But it does mean I'm missing out on different perspectives. Different cultures and different experiences and different lifestyles.
All of these differences can make a community incredibly strong.
That's why evolution is so effective, right? By diversifying, we're able to overcome all the crazy shit the universe has going on. Crazy shit like hurricanes and droughts and ice ages and meteorites and aliens (maybe not that one just yet).
By growing up in the culture I did, I didn't experience a lot of diversity, especially in regards to gender. I instinctively identify people by the way they look, not by who they are inside. I can overcome that, but I slip up from time to time and it sucks. The example I gave above was just one of many times I've said something incorrectly.
There are so many intricacies and nuances when it comes to inclusion. It's just a human thing. We're complicated individuals, and we're constantly changing and figuring out our place in the world.
I'm not that great at diversity. I haven't experienced certain situations enough to see them as an everyday sort of thing; as something that I don't even need to think (or write) about because it just is what it is.
So I need your help at improving. I'm sorry when I mess up (I probably did several times in this post). Please do ask me to do better when I do poorly, and teach me about your experiences. Let's be human together, and be humble enough to share our vulnerabilities with each other.
I'm bad at diversity, but that doesn't mean it isn't important to me. I cherish this rich and diverse world we live in; I just need to be a little better about showing it :)