One of the problems with being a part of any marginalized group is that, one way or another, you end up being demonized by others.
The first time I experienced that feeling was when I started dating my ex-wife. She was African American and, despite her intelligence and the way she carried herself in public, we were both demonized y many when we encountered. Our families were accepting. Most of my friends accepted us as a couple. But there were others…
There were friends of mine who still, to this day, refuse to talk to me because I dated an African American.
There were the looks we got many times when we were out in public.
There were, on a few occasions, threats of physical violence.
It’s weird because I thought I had a firm grasp on being demonized then. Granted, that chapter of my life helped prepare me for the experiences I encounter now…but they were unbelievably mild in comparison to what I experience now.
Thankfully, the world is in a much better place now than it was ten years ago….but we still have a long way to go.
Think about it this way…
If I wore a costume like this out in RL for Halloween, the compliments would flow. There would be comments about my creativity, jokes about how they needed to be careful around Medusa and so on and so forth. If I were to wear this outfit to work, I would be glared at with people whispering behind my back. That is one of the realities of RL…not just for me but for many minority groups.
Not too long, I was talking with a friend of mine. A while back, she was involved with SL pageants and competed for some time. Now…she is African American presents herself as African American in SL. I commend her for that as not many people do that. Or, at least, it doesn’t always feel like many do. Anyway…I digress. As she and I were talking, she told me that when she was doing pageants…someone once told her that she might have more success if she went with a Caucasian avatar instead of an African American one.
What? Wait!! Excuse me???
See…I commend my friend for being herself. Obviously, we can all come into SL and be whoever we want to be. We have have the perfect body, in whatever gender and skin tone we want. We can have the perfect hair, perky boobs, tight butts, etc. We can, if we so choose, pick an avatar that falls right into the majority mainstream. Yet here is this woman who was strong enough to say, “This is me. This is who I am. If you want to be gauge my worth in any capacity on the pigment of my skin, RL or SL, that’s on you…not me. I am proud of who I am.” And you know what? She never gave in to that suggestion.
For me…I could have kept quiet. Lord knows there are things that have and will continue to happen in SL that would be easier if I hadn’t disclosed my transition. We won’t even talk about how much easier RL would be if I had not started down this path. But had I not done those things, how could I say I was true to myself? How could I say, “This is me…take me or leave me.”
While some say comparing my experience to my friend’s experience may be wrong, I don’t see it as being that way. I didn’t have any more control over my gender identity than she did her skin tone. This is how we were born. Its a part of who we are. So why do we continue to judge people on these things? Why do we demonize people for things that are completely out of there control and place judgments on them without taking the time to understand the person and their experiences?
In the end…we all need to sit back and take the time view the soul of a person. Granted, passing judgement is part of human nature and we all want to be included and accepted. There’s a reason I say I wouldn’t wish this journey I am on onto anyone. I am sure there are others in various marginalized groups who would say the same. But these differences, whether the be ethnic or racial background, gender or sexual identity, physical or mental illness or disability, do not define who we are as people. Yes…they impact our daily lives but they don’t define our worth.
It makes me wonder…why, in 2019, we still judge a person’s worth on these things? And why, when we know little to nothing about these people, so judge them as good or bad people without knowing much of anything about them other than these little snippets of their lives?
And why, in a world as diverse as Second Life, are we bringing those real world judgments in a place where all should be accepted?
See it on Flickr.
Foxcity – Selfie 2m
BattleScars – Premium Clouds Horror 4.0