A giggle replaced with a smile can change vulnerability to confidence.
Humans, as social animals, constantly strive to fit in their own set up of society. We bond over many things and make sure that the society is a better and comfortable place to live for each one of us. In this process of embracing every norm, sometimes, we fail to understand that something as small as giggling at someone for their sexual orientation has a great impact on their social life.
Haylee Jarnet,18 year old bisexual, is one among those kids who had a rough childhood with experiences being memories in the long run.
‘‘I am from California and hailed from a conservative family. I went to the public school in Southern California which is nothing less than a desert for me. At the age of 13, I realized my sexual orientation. Initially, I never understood what was happening with me and so I shared it with my friends. One day, a friend of mine said that she had a dream in which I was kissing a girl and started to tease me about.
That was like a cold splash of water on my face. It hit me hard. It was fun for them, not for me. I was scared to identify myself, to be open about my sexual interest and have a relationship with anyone around me. I started doubting myself. I wasn’t brave enough to talk about anything. I ended up spending lonely nights shedding tears on my pillow. I almost gave up on life by the age of 15.
One dark night, when tears rolled down my cheeks, my thought process changed. It took a drastic turn. I wanted to know about myself and my sexual orientation. I learnt and researched about it and realized that it is nothing wrong to be a bisexual. It is just an individual’s biological combination that would determine their romantic interest. That moment I gave up on the world and its tantrums. I embraced myself”, says Haylee.
Considering the scene in Haylee’s life, the act of her friends teasing her is an act of Microaggression. Microagression, as termed by a Columbia professor, Deral Sue, is a “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults towards people’. This might seem to be very small to the one who is acting it but has a huge effect on the one who experiences it. Microagression has a long term impact on people. It may not seem to be big but it leaves people with an untold and unexpressed stress in them which might eventually lead to serious mental health issues. Being prone to mental illness because of sexual orientation is the least we expect to happen in the 21st century when fighting for equal rights is very prominent around us. Considering the statistics, nearly 40% of the LGBT community are being prone to some kind of mental illness and had been strong enough to revive and make through their living.
The fact that matters most is not the numbers but the vulnerability that drives people to mental health issues. The communities have noticed the need to address such issues and had started communal support systems in which people are accepted for what they are. This questions human sensitivity, where we fail to accept people for what they are. We fail to understand that we live in the same world and each of us has the same feelings as you and I.
Life is not a cake walk for any of us. It is relay race with struggles and obstacles in its path. Just as in relay race, we should help each other in getting through the obstacle than being an obstacle ourselves. A smile in the morning can change a person’s day. When something as small as a smile can has power to change an entire day imagine how beautiful with world would be for all of us if we accept each other for what we are. Remember, the smallest things in the world have the biggest impacts on life. So, ‘micro’ is the ‘macro’.
“Whatever the conditions of people’s lives, wherever they live, however they live; they share the same hopes, the same dreams as you and I”. – Melinda French Gates.
This story was produced by a student in the “Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI)” program, a collaboration between The Seattle Globalist and FIUTS, supported by the U.S. Department of State. The program brings 20 undergraduates from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Nepal to Seattle. Participants study journalism and new media, and participate in volunteer and service activities, leadership workshops, and cultural excursions. The story is an example of student work and has not yet been through the Seattle Globalist’s standard editing and fact-checking process.