Land of the Free:

Kaylin - Greenwood Village, Colorado
Entered on August 13, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

“Kaylin, I think I am gay…” I looked into his eyes. They were burnt morning java and cream curdled in the heat of the stove. As he began to cry, the evening’s darkness was suddenly a mute black and a famished wind, seeking something to gnaw on. The impulsive anxiousness in his face at what I was going to say made me nervous; his pale, vibrating hands on my hips beseeched for forgiveness.

In that moment, I wanted to man hunt and slaughter every person that had ever said “That’s Gay”, or made a casually homophobic remark. That, though, would include suicide. I began to cry too, but not in disappointment. I cried in guilt at society’s harsh judgment and the torture he would go through, the suffering that was yet to come, and my own helplessness in fixing things for him. He will never know the pain of conformity or the ease of invisibility.

He must have thought I was mad at him, or hated him, and he tried to pull away from me. It was in that moment that I endlessly began to ponder: why is it that the way one is perceived is based on the personal choices in their life, and the things that make them happy? Why can people not overcome the conflict of personal opinions and values with character and personality? Not only is this critical outlook apparent in regard to sexual orientation, but race, religion, and also individual opinions, likes, and preferences.

My mother decided to take me to a Moody Blues concert once, in attempt to expose me to the essence of her, now, distant generation. I remember walking into a concert hall in the Denver Convention Center. It was full of dried apple cores that had dehydrated and oxidized by the late 20th century. By now they were molding, and my older brother and I glanced at each other, appalled at what could have become our henious-oldie-music related demise. Besides my brother and me, there was not a person in the auditorium under the age of 45. We sat apprehensively through the concert and the encore, oldies that meant nothing to us in comparison to 50 Cent or Kanye. There was a woman sitting next to me who was intrigued with the resurrection of her beloved Moody Blues though, and she had dolls that looked like each band member. A woman on my other side could not resist staring at the lady with the dolls; she could not resist obviously insulting and poking fun at her with her friends. I wanted to cry for the woman and her dolls. Just because she had an obvious love for the music and the band, the people around her judged her because of her idiosyncratic qualities and the ways that she was different from them, when really, the woman with the dolls was courageous for embracing her true self in such an extensively judgmental public.

I will never understand why it is that I felt so strongly for the woman with her dolls. It is unimaginable, though, that one single action at a pivotal moment could change the way that society thinks of you forever. Our country is based on the core values of equality and equanimity, so why can people judge their peers so brutally, and why is this accepted as regular behavior in our community?

As he pulled away from me, I looked into his coffee flavored eyes. I whispered, “So…?” and he paused. “You’re my best friend; I’ll love you no matter what,” I told him, tears streaming even harder down my, now, smudged face.

When (According to the US Department of Health and Human Services) homosexual youth are at a four times higher risk of committing suicide than their heterosexual peers, it is unthinkable that or society would knowingly inflict that pain upon anyone without a second thought. Unfortunately, it is not only a problem with sexual orientation. (According to the National Institute of Health) Every seven minutes a child is bullied, and 85% of the time there is no intervention. With such abuse being integrated into the community, starting on the playground, it is no surprise that bullying has become a problem in adults too. In a country that takes pride in uniqueness, there is absolutely no reason for our people to be penalized for being different, and this I believe.