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Disregard ‘normal’

Contributing writer Inad Rendon urges the young to utilize their positive traits to “prove that we are a more understanding and open-minded generation”. As he stressed, “we play a crucial role in changing the world”.

I am talking to you, young people!

Among 7.101 billion people in the world, 1.8 billion comprise the young people. That includes us. As one of you, I believe that the change we long for the world should start from us. We start with our generation, and teach the next, with living with zero discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. One can affect change. I cannot imagine what the 1.8 billion is not capable of.

Internationally, the word “discrimination” has no concrete and absolute definition, but we have a standard in identifying one. This is the act or omission of limiting or depriving a person the enjoyment of basic human rights (such as right to peaceful life, right to dignity, right against physical and verbal attacks) because of age, color, gender, sexual orientation, health condition or other status. This act comes in many faces, and the most famous one is bullying, whether verbal or physical. Too technical? Read on.

The world we live in is battling a perennial disorder that seriously troubles some youth of our age. Somewhere, a young gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is emotionally or physically suffering from assaults because of his or her sexual orientation. He or she may be beaten up, laughed at, humiliated or got rejected from school or work. Look around you. Observe. You do not have to look that far. He or she might just be your brother or sister.

We, young people, are powerful. We live in an era where resources are readily available. We are smarter. We aim to change the status quo. We invent, we innovate, we experiment, and we try new things to make life better. I urge you to utilize these traits and prove that we are a more understanding and open-minded generation. We play a crucial role in changing the world (keyword: crucial).

Here are some of what we can do to start living with zero discrimination.

Let us start by being honest with ourselves.
We have that longing to express ourselves to the world. It may be on how we want our hair to look like, or what color our nails or eye shadow would be, or how short the pants we want to wear. Let us give in. Let us indulge in that bright pride we place on our foreheads. This is who we are as we are, and not as how the society dictates us to be. Let us stop worrying on what could go wrong and start believing on the good of what will be.

We must determine what we really want in life. We may want to become a lawyer, doctor, journalist, fashion designer, make-up artist, or even a hairdresser. Then we work on it. Never mind what others will say. Let us barricade our goals with vigilance. We have the right to envision what we will be in the future. Every bit of that future is worth chasing.

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The world is abundant with differences. It enjoys variety and diversity. Apparently, most of us people, the most intelligent of all animals, are not gifted with the ability to adapt with them. Most of us unconsciously, or deliberately, fail to exert effort to respect.

We take our walk outside and we see people who were brave enough to express themselves notwithstanding the dictates of society. We see a “crossdresser” with bright make-up, a “butch” lesbian placing her arms around a beautiful lady’s shoulder, or two men holding hands. Is it not enlightening to see people courageously expressing themselves? Is it not impressive? As acknowledgment to their bravery, we shall respect them for confronting the habitual scrutiny of everybody’s eyes. We shall let them be, as we let ourselves be when we decide to express ourselves.

If we cannot release even a modicum of respect, then we must check again if we are being honest to ourselves.

Read and Understand.
There is the Internet, specifically the social networks. They are like restaurants open 24/7 willing to serve anybody who is hungry.

Sets of information are all over the World Wide Web. They are served on us on a hot plate. We shall seek to understand the causes of our behaviors. We shall have the intent to understand others as well. Who are the gays and lesbians? Who are the transgenders? Why do some men love other men? Why do some women love other women? We shall learn that they are special people just like everyone else, that they are capable of loving and hurting just as we do, and that they deserve greatness just as we do. We will be surprised at what other things we might find out if just seek.

We read to comprehend the situation of discrimination around the world. It might deliver negative vibrations, but there is a need to scale the discrimination in our community. Are our actions, no matter how small, contributing to the emotional and physical suffering of the LGBT people around us? It does not matter if the answer is a yes or a no. Inequalities are springing up. We have to do something for change.

Best information comes when you seek for it. It is true that the best morals are learned from home, but not even the best parents nor the best religion can teach how the LGBT people are feeling, or should be behaving. Our parents and elders have different views from our own. They grew up from a different generation when what seems to be acceptable to us was not acceptable to them.

Disregard ‘normal’.
The society defines what is normal. It is generally what the society identifies as acceptable. Everyone or everything that defies the acceptable is labelled as not normal, offensive, eye sore, a shame… you name it.

We are the new generation, thus we are the looming new society. Sooner or later, we may unconsciously define what is normal and acceptable. Because we are smarter, more understanding and more open-minded, we can create a society that does not define, that is all-inclusive and is more accepting. We start now. We begin by respecting ourselves and not limiting our expressions within what the current society has fenced as acceptable. We follow it by respecting others – how they manifest themselves, how they raise their opinions, how they express their love and devotion towards others – and create an enabling and open space for a friendly interaction. We accept differences and invite others to do the same.

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Have you wondered why we are different? Why there are different sexual orientations? Why there are several ways of expressing one’s self? It is because we have to learn giving, experience understanding, enjoy reconciliation and feel the magnificent elation of acceptance. We are different so that we may learn how to REALLY learn from the experiences of others, the previous generation, and use them to create a friendlier and more accepting environment. We strive amid the differences to appreciate the abundance of self-expression. We reconcile differences to live through the glorious essence of respect and love.

I leave these questions to you now: How do you express your unique and special self? How do you wish the world would respond to your expression?

Inad Quinones Rendon is a staunch advocate of LGBT rights and for those living with HIV. As a pioneering youth coordinator and human rights officer of SHINE, an LGBT network in General Santos City, he envisions full and equal political participation of LGBTs from all ethnicity in GenSan, as they currently remain under-represented. Inad started his advocacy for promotion of human rights in 2010, when he worked for the rights of the indigenous peoples, internally displaced persons, and victims of human rights abuses. He now finds his calling for the advocacy of LGBT rights. Inad earned units from the College of Law of Ateneo de Davao University, and he dreams of becoming a full-fledge LGBT rights lawyer someday.


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