Updated: Jan 3
Cornflowers are my favorite flowers. They’re a periwinkle kind of color, and they’re special to me because of how they pop at the edges of cornfields.
Imagine: acres of corn, row upon row, green and regimented on a field (literally) of brown.
At the edges, along the ditchy road the farmer drives to survey this homogenous desert of subjugation and sterility, there is consistently found an unconquered volunteer resistance of bright blue flowers.
In college, I was a punk. I took my politics from bands like Minor Threat, Bad Religion, and Propagandhi, and I wore my disdain for the dominant paradigm on my ratty sleeve. One afternoon, ordering lunch at the counter in a collegetown restaurant, I requested that they put my curry in my reusable mug instead of a disposable to-go container. The owner, an older white man, came over to find out what was going on. He looked me up and down, blue hair to tattered Chucks, and shook his head. “You know, the Japanese have a saying,” he said. “The nail that sticks up must be hammered down.”
It was clearly intended to communicate, “Do it our way, or get lost!” Whether or not his paraphrasing distorted the original spirit of the saying, I scrammed.
This month is Pride month. As an able-bodied cis-het white English-speaking man myself, I’ve barely experienced any discrimination. Still, I know that the sunlight that makes possible life on earth comprises all of the colors of the rainbow. Our world becomes dark when we block out portions of the spectrum.
Alok Vaid-Menon, an American writer and hero of mine, said this recently on their Instagram:
“I think trans people are leading the way for everyone, once again. We have been taught to fear the very things that have the potential to set us free. And so, when we see trans people living freely, saying, 'I don’t care about society’s norms, I don’t care about gender norms, I just wanna be me,' people are threatened by that, because they’ve had to repress their own true self and so for me the history of the LGBTQ community is we’re not just doing this for ourselves, we’re doing this for everyone.”
Being inclusive and open-minded requires practice. I am driven by the examples of people like Alok: I strive to be my own true self and to welcome the true selves of others, near and far. The payoff is nothing short of everything.
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