“There is no harder, there is just hard” and “Meet people where they are”–these concepts really resonate with me. The speaker in this video may be gay and talking about coming out of her “closet” but she emphasizes that everyone’s closet is different. just because your closet isn’t a political platform, doesn’t mean it wasn’t just as hard for you to overcome. And just as it was hard for her to come out of her closet, it was also hard for those she came out to. We all have struggles, one is not more important or more difficult than another. shaming someone’s struggles so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment in your own, only ends up devaluing it instead.
“Closets” can consist of anything. what you’ve struggled with and who you are should not be compared with what others have struggled with because they are not you, and you are not them. As a mother, one of my biggest pet-peeves is when other mothers get together and compare childbirth stories: how long they were in labor with their children, the things that went wrong, the pain they endured, etc. it becomes a competition, like the person who was in labor longest and had to overcome the most physical obstacles wins the prize. they’re talking measure of time and meeting the scientific criteria that says a female body is in labor. it’s not accounting for each individual’s pain threshold, or measuring the length of time they were in each stage of childbirth. and really, why is this so important? there are many honorable accomplishments associated with being a mother, don’t hang your hat on your labor story.
When Bruce Jenner gave his recent interview about coming out of his closet, the former Olympic champion who is in the process of changing gender, a family member of mine was baffled as to why he would choose to do this now. he’s lived his whole life behind closed doors, why now? why put yourself through the stress and ridicule at this time in your life? okay, he has lived his whole life not being open about who he is but it might have taken this long for him to want to be open about it, for whatever reason. even if he only gets a relatively small amount of time to be free of what has been constraining him, why should he hold back now? if someone had been physically held captive for that length of time and then given the chance to be free, would you say “oh, you’ve survived this long, just stay there”? closets can feel like prisons.
Another message that I think this video conveys wonderfully, is that sometimes the simplest answer is best. when that little girl asked the waitress if she was a boy or a girl, she was confused because the clothes she wore made it hard to tell. the explanation about her being a pajamas kind of girl instead of a dress wearing one was perfect. it answered the question and gave a brief explanation as to why, but didn’t try to justify or validate or lead to more confusing aspects. as adults, we so often hide within long, drawn out explanations. questions do not automatically equal judgments. answers are not required to be summaries. Don’t apologize for who you are.