“Let he among us without sin be the first to condemn!” This is a line from “La Vie Bohéme,” a song concluding the first act of Jonathan Larson’s 1996 Tony Award winning musical Rent. Presented at a small insignificant restaurant in New York City, the Life Café, this scene shows a group of 1990’s “Bohemians,” including a lesbian lawyer, a nightclub dancer, and a drag queen, raising their glasses to everything inappropriate, outrageous, racy, scandalous, and, well, different. Unhappily seated at the table next to theirs are four conservative rich businessmen, cursing themselves for choosing the Life Café to dine in on that certain day. I believe in this song; I believe that “sins” should be celebrated. That is, if playing hooky, cross-dressing, and marijuana are indeed considered sins.
I do not believe that there is anyone in this world who is “normal” or “perfect.” Normal is pretend; a lie used to make us feel comfortable. Differences that vary from what people are accustomed to ultimately frighten people, causing there to be racism, sexism– discrimination in general. However, without personal differences the world would resemble something like the film Pleasantville, or Edward Scissorhands, or the town in the beginning of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Differences should be embraced; “sins” should be embraced.
I find “sins” to be delightful. They strip away any fake exterior impressions of identical, well-kept houses with evenly-trimmed lawns all in a row, and bring out the gritty realities of life. I find it funny how people refrain from sharing certain truths about themselves, such as unique family circumstances or past mistakes, in hopes of maintaining a “normal” image. Yet, what is normal? Who is flawless? What characteristics are deemed as flaws? The answers are who knows, who knows, and who knows, because nobody is able to concur. I would much rather disagree, argue, and fume about differences I cannot understand than ride in a red Volkswagen which matches that of my neighbor’s and her neighbor’s and his neighbor’s. So instead of bowing my head in discomfort and shame, I have learned to rejoice in my own and other’s “sins.”
From yogurt to eating disorders, from Buddha to Pee-wee Herman, from turpentine to dildos, “La Vie Bohéme” revels and triumphs everything this world has to offer us. Concerning myself with portraying a perfect normal girl seems an awful bore when there are so many shocking “sins” to celebrate and to set me apart. “To anyone out of the mainstream, is anyone in the mainstream?” No! And it’s wonderful that way. This I believe.