This I Believe

Lauren - Pleasantville, New York
Entered on June 1, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in being open minded to the differences of others and not judging anyone based on their beliefs, physical characteristics, or sexual preference. This year acts of heterosexism hit close to home for me. At the beginning of this year, I found out that one of my best friends, let’s call her Nicole, was in a relationship with another girl in my school, let’s call her Marie, the entire school year before this. Marie was the one who told me about this pretty much secret relationship and that the rumors I had heard were true. It was shocking, but not surprising at the same time for I had suspected something might be going on even though I had convinced myself that nothing had been going on. I had always considered myself a tolerant person, but once something this controversial occurred around me I second guessed myself and that scared me. As hurt as I was that Nicole didn’t tell me about the relationship, I realized that if it was kept a secret, she must be more confused about herself than I could imagine. I realized I am tolerant but had just been in shock.

I told Nicole I knew what happened, and that if she ever needed anything, to let me know. She awkwardly said thanks, the expression on her face shocked and confused. This expression showed me the emotions that she must be feeling, shocked that I actually had the guts to say something to her about it (apparently a bunch of our friends had known too, but the relationship had been taboo). At times, people have made negative comments about gay people when my friend Nicole was around, unaware of this secret relationship rumored around school. I never knew what to do, but I began to see maybe this is why she is so afraid to be herself if she really is a lesbian.

Many people talk about the “Golden Rule,” treating others as you would like to be treated. This rule should highlight the necessity for being open-minded and tolerant of everyone based on race, religion, gender, political standing, and sexual preference. I have realized in my life that I have my own beliefs and stereotype that I fit into; I am a white, liberal, heterosexual, agnostic, sixteen year old girl from an upper-middle class area. I am not considered a minority in my area but I have learned to see the differences in the people around me. I have come to think that I do not have the authority to judge other people because who’s to say that having left wing beliefs or being heterosexual is the best way to be? What would give me the right to judge someone negatively based on how they look or what they believe when I am not even perfect myself? I have no right to be critical of any other person, that right is not given to anyone.