But the whole point of liberation is that you get out. Restructure your life. Act by yourself.
-- Jane Fonda
Writing should be about the intimate link between personal liberation and public defiance, shouldn’t it?
This certainly was the case prior to television. In earlier times, when something important needed to be said, you were expected to compose manifestos, polemics, confessionals and apologetics. Like Martin Luther, these were intended to be nailed literally or figuratively to the cathedral door.
In the current age of solipsism, you need do no more than post a self-made YouTube video, sit back to count the hits as word circulates through e-links, and calculate the extent of your newfound notoriety.
It just isn’t the same … is it?
No, it isn’t. My topic today is difficult, but it’s the right time to discuss it, and what better way than in writing … especially since I don’t know how to make an Internet video.
I can’t remember when it first occurred to me that I was different from the others. There was neither a singular epiphany nor an earth-shattering revelation, only a dawning recognition that my attractions and desires were directed toward other places than those classified as "normal."
For more than twenty years, I’ve known the truth, but the immensity of it overwhelmed me, and the implications blinded me to the realities of the situation. I kept going both directions, back and forth, never willing to admit that my life’s orientation might be other than that considered typical for a male of my upbringing in a small Southern Indiana town and in a conservative, traditional society.
As a youth I wanted nothing more than to be like my friends, and after all, we were not readily exposed to alternative lifestyles as part of our formative educational experiences. You might read about such matters in books and see them on television, but here, where you were born and raised? It was the sort of thing that dared not speak its name aloud.
I was tormented by the usual doubts and questions. Nature or nurture? Had I done something wrong? Was I being punished? Did I have control over my real feelings and possess the ability to change them, or were they hard-wired and non-negotiable?
To be blunt, I can’t go on this way.
After much soul searching and heartfelt discussions with loved ones, dear friends, longtime customers, local politicians, cherished teachers, and even that dude whose name I can’t remember in White Castle the other day, I’ve come to a momentous decision, and I’m able finally to reveal it to you and the world.
I’m really a … a … European.
There, I’ve said it.
European. Not American. Apparently the stork erred, and I’ve spent 47 thoroughly depressing years trapped in the body of a hamburger-eating, swill-slugging, mindless patriotic church-going, NASCAR-gazing idiot (sans savant), one reviled throughout the civilized world and for fairly good reason.
It is profoundly unfair.
I should be riding on affordable public transportation through thoughtfully planned, human-scale communities to important soccer matches; vacationing in Libya or Bali or Cuba; drinking Belgian ale and Greek ouzo and Spanish wine from their sources; gratefully choosing between many more than two political parties, and ones that actually might reflect my own belief system; enjoying competent and universal cradle to grave health care; having no reason to fear the harmful encroachment of a fundamentalist Christian theocracy or to argue for the usefulness of religion apart from those pretty church buildings; refusing to own a firearm because my status as genuine citizen and "real man" isn’t predicated on it; speaking a half-dozen languages fluently; and understanding that my tax burden, while high, is being distributed to the benefit of my community as a whole.
I need a document of authenticity.
Anyone seen that damned negligent stork?
(Note: The preceding was originally blogged over at the author's MySpace site, where he's been rehearsing new material on a smaller stage. You're cordially invited to peek in.)