On Bravery

So, I've been seeing this meme online lately showing the military in combat situations side-by-side with a picture of someone in the LGBT community coming out, with the caption “This Is Real Bravery” or “This Is Real Courage” and I'm really starting to get annoyed. Do these people think there is only one kind of courage? Do they not realize that for an LGBT person to come out, it is a personal battlefield? Now, I'm not saying that anyone in the Military isn't brave. I think that's a different kind of courage. But to the people who think that there is only one kind of bravery... I have to ask this question:

What is the one thing in your life you're most ashamed about? Most afraid that someone else will find out? What action have you taken that you don't think you can tell the people closest to you? Now do that thing, be that thing, for years. Do that thing around everyone you know and never let them see you. Never tell them. Feel their judgment: not knowing if they will hate you, forgive you, or love you if they find out. Do this for years. Now after all those years have passed, stand in front of everyone you know, everyone you have ever met, and tell them the truth.

Now imagine that this thing is natural. That it is neither illegal, nor immoral and no one has ever been harmed by it. This thing, which you are neither asking them to do themselves nor asking them to do with you; this thing which has nothing to do with them in the least; will not affect them in the least; will still get you cast out of your family; cut off from your friends; driven out of town; if they knew. And stand up before all of them, and tell them the truth.

You don't think that's brave? You don't think that takes courage? They are the ones holding the gun, and they are pointing it at you, and you are unarmed, merely asking to be loved for who you are, and forgiven for the crime they imagine has been done to them. Could you tell them the truth, knowing that they might pull the trigger? You are alone. Can you do it? Tell me again how that isn't bravery. Look down the barrel of the gun, knowing the truth might kill you, and speak anyway. To me, that is the epitome of brave.

I'm a cis straight white male and I have nothing to gain from this fight. But I will fight because I'm an egalitarian, and though all those terms are true, what I am; what they are; what you are, is human. I believe that 'man' is just 'boy' with bigger toys. Let's be Human and realize we're beyond such toys; beyond such tantrums. Let's be Human, and embrace each other in our Humanity. “Let he who is without sin” has never stopped the stones. More often what has is someone brave enough to stand in front of the target. The brave don't pick up stones, they stand in front of them. I'm standing in front of them. And now that you know where I stand, where do you?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Neal, for this. For noting the myriad of ways people can be brave, can be different but still have commonalities.