For some people…differences divide them. For others…differences bring them closer together.
At the start of June, Ryanna and I had talked about doing a collab in support of BLM and the protests for equality. Schedules didn’t quite work out and we just got to do our collab last night, but there’s nothing saying the discussion needs to stop now. In fact, it’s probably more important that the discussion continue now more than ever.
Ryanna and I met back before I began blogging. I was hosting for clubs and she was friends with some of the people I worked with in the club. We met one night and we really haven’t quit talking since. And out friendship…it goes beyond the basics of Second Life and blogging. Our friendship goes into RL even though we haven’t had the opportunity to meet in RL…yet.
Over the course of the years, we have discussed what it’s like being a transwoman. We have discussed what it’s like being black. We have discussed families. We have discussed insecurities, relationships, mental illness, work concerns. We have talked about it all. And through those discussions, we have only grown closer together.
Ironically, while so many in this world will use differences such as ethnic background, sexual identity, gender identity, socioeconomic status and other factors to force a divide between themselves and others…we have used our differences to help us not only grow closer. We have used them to help each other be much more empathetic to the struggles we have each endured.
For example…can I ever truly understand what it’s like to be a black woman in today’s world? Nope. There’s no way. It’s just the same as Ryanna can never truly understand what it’s like to be a transwoman in today’s times. However…as she listens to me discussing the struggles I encounter through transition, she uses her experiences as a black woman to develop a level of empathy and understanding with what I encounter. As I listen to her stories of being a black woman, I tap into my experiences from my own struggles through transition to gain a better understanding of what she encounters every day.
The thing is, empathy requires both using our own experiences to develop an understanding while also stepping outside of our own experiences and truly putting ourselves in each other shoes. While it can be learned…for some it is truly a gift.
During Pride Month, I was incredibly proud of the LGBTQ community for stepping up and gladly shifting the spotlight from LGBTQ rights to those of our ethnic minority brothers and sisters. It was important that we do that. Not just because there are LGBTQ members of the black community…but in using a time set aside for the LGBTQ community…we worked to make sure that we pushed for equality for all and not just one group.
I have been incredibly fortunate to have Ryanna as a friend over the years. She has stood by me as I have come out in SL. She stood by me as I disclosed in my blog. She has been a rock for me as I disclosed to family and friends. She has always had my back.
And I will always have hers.
Differences can bring us together. They can empower and enlighten us. Believe me…if this rock star of a woman and I can use our differences to develop the friendship we have, anyone can do that and develop a truly valuable friendship.
Besides…when we embrace our differences to find common ground, we truly are able to change the world.
See it on Flickr.