How much does a person’s appearance matter when it comes to friendship? We all like to think we’re much more evolved and appearance in meaningless but there will always be those few friends who exist in our lives for purely superficial reasons. It’s not always a conscious choice and you might not realize how much visual appearance can impact how you feel about someone. In case you’re skeptical, I devised a game to help clear up how genuine your feelings are. It’s pretty simple, think of someone in your life and think of 5 Nice Things to say about them that have nothing to do with their appearance. Although the exercise is simple it can’t be a very powerful tool. Listing negative traits is easy. If you had to list the reasons why you hated your enemies you could probably produce 5 reasons in 5 seconds. But if you had to list 5 good things about your husband or best friend it might take a little longer. The exercise helps you remember why you love someone in the first place.
This all started last year at a party when my friends were all discussing one of their mutual acquaintance. For our purposes I’ll call him Sheldon. I had never met him but had heard a lot of stories. From these stories I came to two conclusion. First it was clear that Sheldon was an incredibly irritating person. Second it was just as clear that everyone found him incredibly attractive. So much so that they overlooked all his annoying habits. I was curious to get the groups consensus to see how accurate my assumptions were. Everyone had nothing but positive things to say and everyone liked him as a friend. Thumbs up for Sheldon. However as everyone talked I noticed that all the positive things being said were mainly concentrated on the physical. No one was mentioning any of negative traits I had heard so much about in the past. That prompted me to give them the simple challenge: “Say 5 nice things about him that have nothing to do with the way he looks.” Everyone went silent. Obviously it’s hard to think of these things when put on the spot so I gave them a very generous amount of time. Many could only think of one or two attributes that fit the criteria. Even to this day I’ll bring this question up to the same group to see if they’ve thought of any more traits. After more than a year still no one has thought of anything new.
As I said this can also remind us why we love the important people in our lives. Take my boyfriend for example. Many people know him for his wonderfully adorable face but there is a lot more that I also love about him.
The 5 things I love about Russ that have nothing to do with his looks are:
1. His sense of humor
2. His strong work ethic
3. The fact that he has a good relationship with and loves his family
4. His outgoing personality and ability to talk to anyone
5. His love of music, musicals, and kittens
After the Stonewall riots in 1969 the gay rights movement was born and spread around the country. The activists in those early days had a much more radical in your face approach. They weren’t going to conform to anyone’s ideas of how they should look or act. The famous rally cry of “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” is a perfect example of that in your face style. The young gay movement was like an angst filled teenager pushing limits and testing boundaries. They were filled with raw emotion and they often had to scream and shout to get noticed by law makers. Not surprisingly the pushy attitude didn’t win over many fans. Gay people were still seen as immoral trouble makers on the edge of society.
As time went by the gay rights movement grew and matured. It seems somewhere along the way the leaders of the movement shifted their campaign platform away from provocation and anger to one of inclusion and assimilation. As they say, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. The message became “We are all the same. We are all equal.” The focus was on the idea that we are just like straight people and thus we should be given the same rights. Gays starting to mix and blend seamlessly into regular polite society in growing numbers. The move worked. As we can all see, gay rights activists have been incredibly successful in the last several decades bringing enormous strides both socially and politically. The Same and Equal philosophy is now much more than a political strategy. It has become a deeply held belief amongst many in our community.
I’ve talked before about my unique college experience of living in a university sanctioned gay dorm. That was in the very early 2000’s and even then a lot of the criticism we got centered around the belief that we shouldn’t be so separated. Many believed that to make a bigger impact we should disperse ourselves amongst everyone. A lot of people I meet now still hate the idea of a segregated community. When I tell people I live in the gayborhood of Dallas I get a mixed reaction. Several gay people have pointed out that the idea of living in a predominantly gay area is their version of hell. It seems that assimilation is the new version of trendy gay culture. Apparently the new gay model is to have a mixed group of friends. A straight guy best friend is your point of pride and a fact that you are very quick to point out to everyone who meets him. You go to straight bars because you can’t stand just how over the top gay bars can be. Ugh why do they have to be so gay?! You don’t understand why your sexuality has to matter.
This is what those early leaders fought for. We finally got to a place where no one cares about your sexual preference. Our culture that once existed mainly in gay ghettos has now been absorbed into mass market media. We are welcomed with open arms by those who once banished us. We truly have assimilated and become just like them.
And part of me hates it. This post was inspired by my friend Ed. He got into a heated discussion on Facebook with someone about the topic. He pointed out that he missed the radical activism of our early gay leaders while the other person valued total integration. My favorite quote from him during the discussion was “I want to sit in my gay coffee shop, drinking my gay coffee, reading my gay book.” I have to admit I agree. I love living in a gay bubble. Regular society is utterly beige. While the idea of mainstream acceptance makes sense on paper, part of me feels like we are losing part of our culture. Remember, the cult will only accept people who do exactly as they’re told and drink the Kool-Aid. Our country is considered the great melting pot but at some point are we going to melt down so far that we will totally lose who we once were? Don’t get me wrong I don’t knock the gay rights movement for moving toward the beige center of politics. To win the war there will always be casualties and unfortunately radical activism was one of those casualties. Regardless part of me will always be drawn to the in your face ‘I don’t care if you like it’ punk style attitude. Why do we have to be the same to be equal? We should be equal because we’re all human beings not just because you suddenly want to be our friend.
With support for gay rights continuing to grow around the world, the ‘We’re All the Same‘ philosophy is here to stay and honestly it has my respect. You can’t ignore the tremendous success modern gay activists have had. Throughout it all though, there will always be a part of me that wants to get in your face and shout WE’RE HERE, WE’RE QUEER, GET USED TO IT!
Now for a moment of bitchiness. I try and use self control to avoid Facebook fights whenever possible. Here are some of the comments that never saw the light of day:
“It just occurred to me that deep down you might just be a horrible person.”
“We are all so lucky to have someone as perfect as you to point out our mistakes. You are truly doing God’s work. Don’t listen to all those people who will say you are just and insecure loser that has to point out the imperfections in others in order to avoid acknowledging your own problems. They’re just jealous of your greatness.”
“When are you going to get some much needed therapy?”
“I find your inspirational religious themed messages confusing considering the amount of anonymous bath house sex you have.”
“Do you realize that you’re exactly the type of person that you hate?”
“I agree that a Facebook “Happy Birthday” can be impersonal but I can tell you from personal experience the people who complain about such things never do anything else. There is no card, no text message, no in person hug.”
“Why does every new selfie you take look like it was taken with a webcam from 1998?”
“I forgot we were friends because I’ve had you hidden for so long.”
“No I do not want to give money to your Kickstarter. Regardless of the claimed reason, I am certain the money is just going toward your past due rent.”
“I always thought that was stupid. I’m glad you were forced to change.”
“Why are you always so completely miserable every single day? You really seem to hate everything about your life but are unwilling to make any changes”
Like Ugg boots, pessimism is a trend that won’t go away quick enough. There seems to be a growing sentiment that everything is getting worse. Modern days are painted as dangerous and awful where as the past is looked at through rose colored glasses. Have you noticed the past is always talked about like a fairy tale where cities were safer and people were nicer. It was Oz and we were Dorothy. However the past might not be as nice or as safe a place as you remember it being. After all kind hearted Dorothy was being hunted by an evil blood thirsty witch. In fact statistics prove that crime rates in the this country have actually been on a steady decline for years. Life is actually getting better.
To help prove my point I did some research and pulled real crime stats. Reading an online article can be informative but you can never really know how completely accurate the information is and therefore I wanted to get the data directly an official source. (Wikipedia was not used at any point for this post) In this case the source was the FBI. Their crime statistic website was very helpful and provided all the information I needed and more. I decided to make it easy and start 20 years ago. In the last 20 years there have been Republican presidents, Democrat presidents, a national terrorism tragedy, an economic boom, and an economic bust. It seemed like a good span of time to study due to all those changing variables. The most current data on the FBI’s website was for 2012 so I looked back to 1992. As you can see crime has been dropping for some time. (All number are US only statistics)
Violent crime totals
Motor Vehicle Theft totals
Aggravated Assault totals
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter totals
I know our country isn’t problem free and there is still plenty to worry about but at least you can rest easy that we are actually creating a safer place for new generations.
*It should also be noted that in 1992 the US population was 255,029,699 and in 2012 it was 312,780,968.
All date can be found at http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/index.cfm and click on Table Building Tool to get this information or more in depth date. There you can also get state specific numbers.