When Bruce Jenner ditched his identity as a man and came out to the world as Caitlyn Jenner, what was shocking wasn’t so much her transformation but people’s reaction. So many people were glad she had finally found the courage to stop pretending and be the woman she was and would have always wanted to be. However, among the positives were also the negatives and the harsh insults.
At a media workshop on HIV/AIDS, the topic of sexual orientation was covered in detail. An interesting question posed by one of the speakers was if anyone would be brave enough to admit they are homosexuals. An awkward silence lasted for quite a few seconds as many shifted in their seats, hoping they would not have to answer the question.
As open and accepting as we are of things like sexuality, we are still hesitant to accept them when they affect us personally or will affect our identity and how people view us. Thus even though we can praise people for being open about their sexual orientation, we wouldn’t want to leave the comfort of the socially accepted position we are in.
This leads to many people not being able to be themselves because they would assume that they are the only ones feeling that way. For instance, someone who belongs to a family that firmly believes in god wouldn’t be able to express their atheist beliefs if they feel no one else in their family feels that way and would pounce at them.
This applies to situations that don’t only concern sexual orientation or ethnicity. Take for instance a class in school. If there is a bully and no one protests against this bully or complains to the teachers, the other students will continue to be bullied. Many people will simply find a way to avoid the bully and this isn’t a solution. For instance, if the bully always stays near the back gate in school and takes the other students’ money or food, many would simply use the front gate so they can avoid the bully. This is a temporary measure and all problems need permanent solutions.
However, one student may decide that he has had enough and would take a stand against the bully. If the other students also work with him, they would have the power of numbers and would be able to put an end to the bullying. However, if the other students keep quiet, then the student who stood up against the bully may regret his decision and stop fighting the bully.
Sometimes we consider the risks and choose to keep quiet instead of taking action against a situation or person. However, this will only worsen the situation and after all, you aren’t the only one in the situation. Quantity matters and ten voices are louder than one voice.
So if you are choosing silence, maybe you need to rethink your choices. Your silence may silence many others too. And maybe your voice is what society needs to create a safer and better environment that accepts people regardless of their ethnicity, sexual orientation or beliefs. Maybe your voice is what will finally get the wheels rolling and create a just society.