In the house I grew up in, homosexual and transgender individuals were ridiculed and called everything in the book. It was not taboo, but forbidden, to associate with. People who identified as such could not be my friends. Not necessarily because it was not allowed but because I would have been completely embarrassed if they heard my family talking about them in the way that they were undoubtedly going to.
I grew up knowing the ridicule for things that were not “normal”. Thus my silent suffering to this day with depression and periodic suicidal thoughts. Thankfully I have found the right medication to help me deal with these issues, but it hasn’t been easy. And it is definitely not something that you want to talk about because of how others look at you and immediately turn to whisper behind your back.
Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are tortures of the mind. Something that you cannot readily see with the naked eye. Sometimes it cant even be seen by those closest to the individual. Bullying may or may not take place, but the fear of bullying is always there. Silence is your best friend. Just blend in. Don’t take chances. You do not want to be noticed. If you do then others will talk about you. They will hate you. They will call you every name in the book. Just blend in.
Society applauds those who stand up for others. They are hailed as heroes. Heroes are given guns and sent to foreign lands to eliminate threats to those who are weaker. Heroes are a face for those suffering in silence. They are called brave. They are venerated by the nation and those who they stand up for. Those that are protected can rise up and be proud that their heroes paved the way for them to walk boldly in public with their head held high.
Somewhere along the way our nation has perverted the word hero. It has perverted the word brave. Those words have come to somehow be attributed only to those who wield weapons. People who have loved ones who have served in the military are offended when anyone else is given the title their heroes also possess. Somehow the game of greater than less than has crept into the “deeds” department. Forbid someone from standing up for those who live among us daily who we do not agree with less the deeds of a military personnel be lessened. That is simply not how it works.
Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner is brave. Who knows how many years she struggled with her inner tortures. Why did she not come forward as a transgender individual years ago? Who knows. I can only assume that it is somewhat in part to the large number of people who are bullied daily for being homosexual or transgender. Perhaps it had something to do with those who were bullied so much about their personal preferences and inner torments that they took their own life; something I’ve contemplated so many times, something I know all too well the torture of.
I do not believe that Caitlyn Jenner should have to hide their true self any more than someone who is struggling with anxiety or depression or chronic illness should have to hide themselves. Now, don’t think I’m equating homosexuality or transgender individuals with those who should be medicated or cured. I’m simply stating that the taboo that surrounds the LGBT community also surrounds those who are suffering chronic mood disorders and chronic illnesses such as Lupus and Fibromyalgia.
If an incredibly famous individual came forward as a spokesperson for Lupus, depression, bi-polar, Fibromyalgia, or generalized anxiety disorder they would be hailed as heroes. They would be given a platform with no prejudice. They would be allowed to conduct their public speeches without the opposition being the majority.
Caitlyn Jenner has come forward and risen above social prejudice. She has stood up for those who suffer silently. She has come forward to be a voice for those who have none. She has been rewarded for being herself when others kill themselves for being bulled for being believed to be the same. Coming forward and publicly acknowledging who she is happy being IS bravery. Shame on those who say it is not. She knew that she would have opposition and knew that there would be some who wished her harm or even death. She looked fear in the eyes and stood tall. That is bravery.
Bravery is not something that can be held by only war heroes. Many “Americans” have forgotten that. So whether you are a hero to one or one million, I salute you. Speaking for those who have no voice and being yourself in the process. Being kind and soft-spoken in a world of meanness and shouting. Those are the often unsung heroes. Those are the Caitlyn Jenners’. Those are ones who SHOULD be acknowledged. Be a hero. Be yourself. Be brave.