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Identity is an essential piece of living. Identity tells us who we are, gives us people to identify with, and in the best of cases, gives us a sense of pride in who we are. But what if one day your identity was inverted, and you had to accept a new one? What would you do if your identity was suddenly changed from an average boy to that of a minority? What if one day you are born from popular culture into a subculture of stereotypes, of self destruction, where less then two percent live past sixty-five? Suddenly your voice and values are drowned out by the utter discord and abandon of those around you, and you must fight to assert even your most basic beliefs, and face isolation within a culture that isolates you from society as a whole. What if you were trapped in a subculture that kills those within it, that desperately needs reform? What would you do? Would you hide from it, fearing to be part of a struggle both so great and depressing that few can bear to even think of it? Or would you accept it, and make it your cause in life to fix what was so horribly wrong? Purely hypothetical and mere amusements to think of, or course, unless one day you discover that you’re gay.

It is not an exaggeration to say that there is a culture shock involved, for any with mainstream beliefs, when trying to understand modern homosexual culture. It is a culture of reaction from the way society views it. It is a culture that molds itself based on the picture others paint of it, and it is a culture of fear. We are afraid of what those around us think, we are afraid of being hurt by those who hate us for no reason, we are afraid of not doing things right according to the stereotypes set for us by the media and the people around us, as we have no identity but that which is given to us. And so, we run. The culture has become one of self destruction, where fear has driven us into habits which help us forget, for moments at a time, that which strikes fear so deep into us. We allow ourselves to forget that we are treated unequally. We hide from the fact that we ourselves must fight if we are to ever gain equality in our lifetimes. We’ve discovered that you do not think about these things when we are drunk, when we use drugs, when we have sex, and as a result these things have taken over and poisoned our culture. We enable ourselves and each other, convincing ourselves that it’s okay; all the while we are dying. We become alcoholics, addicts, HIV positive, all to appease the burning desire to run from that which we choose not to face. Youth finding themselves in this culture haven’t the faintest clue what to do, as everyone is too busy hiding to show them. And so, like a stranger caught in a fleeing crowd, they too will run and hide, often not even knowing what they’re hiding from. That fear and voluntary ignorance of what is going on around us locks us into this cycle of self destruction, effectively making the choice to commit cultural suicide for all who are forced into it.

This cannot continue. Our habits and norms are a poison inside us, but it is a poison of our own making. Every day it consumes new victims, taking children who are confused and unsure of themselves and infecting them with an insidious and alien set of values that drives them to eventually kill themselves by their own actions. Forget hate groups; forget that anyone in the entire planet harbors ill will towards us. We are still dying, and we owe it to ourselves and especially to those whose potential will be murdered by our decision to remain, as a culture, ignorant. To wear the rainbow, what is supposed to be an expression of pride in one’s self, is also to take on the sins of the generation that spawned it. It is to wear the symbol of all the things we’ve done wrong, all the things that, in the end, lead to our own demise. We must cast it off, and find a new symbol, and new pride in it. If we expect to find equality, it will not be found by hiding from the battlegrounds over which it is won. But before we can make our stand, we must first change ourselves. We must break this tragic cycle of ignorance as a lifestyle, we must wake up, and we must educate ourselves if we are to be healthy enough as a culture to stand on our own. We must rescind the habits of suicide we have adopted, and take on a new face, one which empowers, not cripples, those who wear it. Equality and respect is what we seek, what we deserve, and what we will not rest until we attain. But until we are strong and worthy enough to earn it, we must change ourselves to meet, not avoid, the perils of a changing world. This is my purpose, and the one cause in which I truly believe.

Our first move must be confronting that which we’ve used as a refuge for decades: ignorance. So many fall prey to things which, had they simply been warned, could have been avoided entirely. We need education of a specific kind, which supports and reinforced a positive identity as a culture. People react to what they are told they should be. If society tells them they are superficial, effeminate, and shrill, they will feel as if they are doing something wrong when they are not. If we tell them that they are strong, intelligent, and worthy of respect and dignity, they will be. When we cast off this delusion of who we should be, we will discover who we are, and who we can be. To kill this insidious self-image, we must attack the root of it, and leave a healthy one in its place. Through education we can transform our culture from one of fear and self-loathing to one of potential and self-respect. And if we are to face the challenges of today and win, we must be firm in ourselves. Another crippling factor we must overcome is our fragmentation. We come from every race, every level of intelligence, every social and economic class in the world, yet we are isolated. Together we are a great force, capable of incredible change, but we hide silently in small pockets, each avoiding the other. We must unite if we are to make change for all of us! We must look out for each other, if we do not want to be such attractive targets. Everyone knows that if you are publicly racist, odds are you’ll get beaten up. If you go so far as to torment a gay kid at school, there are seldom any consequences. This must change. Universal acceptance may be a long ways off, but universal respect can be attained through simply looking out for each other. And with a healthy culture and that element of respect, we will finally be ready to cast off the crippled self image of the past, and truly begin the fight for equality.

I was born into this culture against my will, but I will not turn my back on it, or ignore the dire consequences it faces. I may not agree with many things it values, and its face is no reflection of my own, but I cannot and will not allow those around me to continue to be locked within a cycle that is literally killing them. If no one will speak, then I will raise my voice. If no one will teach, I will step forward. I write my essays and spread my ideas, and already I can feel a reaction. People are raising their heads from their hiding places, and beginning to think. Are they content to live as they do? Are they happy with the way things are? As a child, is this who they dreamed they would become? We are stirring, we are changing, and it is my honor, duty, and purpose to guide this change. Though I cannot abide this culture of suicide, I love those trapped within it, as I know the burden they bear every day, and it is a crushing one. And so, I and those who also believe in change have and will continue to become the change we are seeking, leading by teaching and example. We will start from the seeds, the mere children who have no idea what to do or who they are, and teach them what all those who have gone before them should have been taught. And from them we will create a new generation of homosexuality as the old one dies, one that endures, one that unities, and one that finally consolidates into a force which is strong and able enough to fight the battles we are too weak to fight today. This can be our generation, and through my words, actions, unto to my last breath I will fight to liberate it from its self-imposed and deadly chains, so that it might one day claim what we have all along deserved.

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