Diversity: a Beautiful Gift and a Cross to Bear

Kyle - Syracuse, New York
Entered on March 16, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in diversity; human diversity. I believe in its existence as an entity that effects and shapes the way we view our world. Despite my belief in its existence, I’m not sure I always like it. In fact, there are many times when I haven’t liked it, despite how much I’ve learned from it and grown because of it.

Diversity is often a hard thing to put in its place, let alone accept, not only in others, but most importantly in myself.

Acceptance of certain attributes of myself as a part of me, that defines how I view the world and how the world views me, but without defining myself by these qualities is a balance I have yet to find peace with at the ripe age of twenty-six.

I think often of one of my closest friends from college as someone who was far from accepting how American culture dealt with diversity, but, someone who embraced her own diverse background. She was a loud, angry, Puerto Rican lesbian. One might be shocked at me drawing on these stereotypes, weighted words in an essay that looks to reconcile our differences. I believe, however, that these words say more about who she is as a person than many other adjectives I can conjure.

I have rarely wanted to introduce myself as “Hi, I’m Kyle, and I’m gay”; there’s so much more to me. I shouldn’t have to ware a label: this is who I am, and this is how you should treat us. This difference shouldn’t be an issue, and yet it is. I don’t want you to treat me any differently because of my sexual orientation, and yet I demand a level of respect that is, unfortunately, not the normal in this culture.

Once you understand my sexual orientation, you understand so much about me and why I often feel so uncomfortable or out of place in a world that assumes everyone to be straight. You understand why I am so reactionary to certain world views, op eds in the news, even little bits laced into media and everyday conversations and interactions. I cringe every time someone asks me if I have a girlfriend. I have to out myself or lie when a group of male friends are talking about what film star they find the most attractive. I want to cry every time I hear about a fight over gay marriage in the news.

I believe in diversity. I have hopes of it helping us all to become a more rounded human race, learning from each other’s different perspectives and insights into joy and pain. For now, however, it is something that exists, and has, like so much in life, good and bad sides that we all have to cope with. I believe this coping is one of our greatest challenges, as individuals and as a culture.