Saturday, 2 July 2016

LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE

I was going to write a new blog post the day after my last, but then the Orlando shootings happened. The shooting shook me up and I really wanted to write about it but had no idea what to say, so I left it a while. But here we are...

No person, no matter what their sexuality, gender or status, should be subject to what happened at Pulse on 12th June. Those killed in the massacre had done nothing worthy of death or, indeed, any form of punishment. Some people view the LGBT community as a dud movement which is hyped up far more than it needs to be but there is a reason it exists. We all know that homosexuality is not something comfortably accepted by everyone in society. A majority of people who identify as anything other than heterosexual have gone through a really hard time to accept who are are and who they love. Even once they've accepted it, many in society haven't. 

Pulse was a gay bar and it was a place where people could express their individuality and be themselves without having to worry about how society would react. They could hold hands and dance with whoever they wanted and it was totally fine. They could wear whatever they were comfortable in and not have to give a damn about it.  It was a place where many people felt free and happy and safe until one person took it upon themselves to act on the homophobic beliefs they had and make it unsafe. 

When I was younger I never used to have anything against homosexual people. Not consciously. I never had anything against other people who were gay, but I always said "I'd never be gay". I understood that people were not able to choose, but I said that I wouldn't choose to...which doesn't really make any sense at all. It was not until I was in a situation where all my energy was being pumped into not liking a girl that I realised the reality of it all. When you are not heterosexual, you're going against the flow. People assume you're rebelling or going through a phase or that you were damaged somehow in your childhood. Yes, some people accept it and they are an absolute God-send but there are so many arseholes. 

When I was 15 years old I fell for a girl. Most people in my religion told me that it wasn't okay for girls to like girls which made it extremely difficult. I went to church three times a week and had lots of roles in the youth group but now I had this feeling I couldn't help. This "sin". I fought against it for months and went through a majorly low period. I hated myself so much and became quiet, withdrawn and often contemplated suicide. Eventually, after reading a book outlining the biblical teachings on homosexuality I decided I'd accept who I was - whoever I was. That sounds so strange but the bible mentions homosexuality seven times (or less depending on how you interpret the scripture) which for most people is enough to form such strong views. Divorce is mentioned in the bible twelve times and greed of money is mentioned in 2350 verses but nobody seems to pay any attention to those. Divorce is horrible but it's something that can be left in the past - homosexuality is a constant. People can't escape it which is often why so many condemn it. But for me? I read and understood those passages about homosexuality and accepted that if that's what they say, then okay. I can deal with that because being unhappy sucked. 

It's easy to condemn something that you don't understand. It's easy for someone who is comfortable with who they are to turn around to someone going through hell and telling them they've just got to choose to change. It's not that easy. Denying my sexuality was extremely painful, soul-destroying and it was hurting the girl I liked too. Finally, when I accepted who I was, I was happy again. It wasn't all easy: I've lost so many friends, received many strongly-worded messages and my relationships with some people will never be the same. It was hard to begin with but I was happier this way. I am certain that if I had continued to deny who I was, I would not be here now. 

So many people at Pulse would have gone through a similar journey. Whether religious or not, each of us will know some people with very strong views. Religion is not what makes people close-minded - people are what make people close-minded. I know many Christians and Muslims which are fully accepting of who people are. That's why I don't personally agree with claims that the Orlando shootings were primarily a movement of Islam. This guy had some sort of insecurity about who is allowed to love who and decided to take it out on completely innocent people. I am grateful that I live in a country with sensible gun laws where events like this are likely to never occur. I am in mourning for those who live in a country where going on a night out with your friends can end in death. 

So what can we learn from this? For those of us that accept and love people for who they are regardless of who they love, we just need to stay strong. There is nothing more important in life than loving people and celebrating who they are. Jimmy Fallon put it well: "We need to support each others differences and worry less about our own opinions" because since when is everyone else's life so greatly affected by another persons ability to love? Since when has it been okay for one guy to choose the fate of forty-nine people? It hasn't been okay, it isn't okay and it will never be okay. 

Perhaps people need to be educated about what life is like when you're not understood. And this goes beyond the parallels of gay and straight - even within the LGBT community there are some strong opinions. Bisexuality is often frowned upon and those who are bi are often called greedy, confused or are classed as sluts. Those opinions and prejudices are one of the reasons why I've never really labelled my sexuality. My sexuality concerns me - not everyone else. I believe it's not necessary to label it - you love who you love. Whether that's a guy or a girl or a trans-guy/girl or whatever. When you love somebody, you love their personality. 

So, um, yeah. I've wanted to write something like this for a long time but haven't had the balls to share it. Even though I'm totally confident and happy with my views, I know that a lot people will disagree with me. I'm just gonna finish with a video of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Sonnet from the Tony's this year, which he wrote with the Orlando shootings in mind. Have a nice week. :)


My wife’s the reason anything gets done
She nudges me towards promise by degrees
She is a perfect symphony of one,
Our son is her most beautiful reprise
We chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they’re finished songs and start to play
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day
This show is proof that history remembers
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger
We rise and fall and light from dying embers
Remembrances that hope and love lasts long
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside,

I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story
Now fill the world with music love and pride

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Making the most of the little things

Hi! Long time, no blog! 
The last time I posted was October which seems like a lifetime ago. Since then I have written a total of four draft blog posts but have never actually got round to posting them. Time to change that... I'm posting this today, but there will be another post tomorrow so check back tomorrow night!

I think the last six months have been life-changing. Though this may be the sort of dramatic sentence you expect to hear from a Performing Arts student, it's not necessarily as dramatic as you might think. I've basically come to know myself better and have really started to trust in my abilities. But it's made all the difference. I entered into this university course with the view that I could 'probably do okay' and 'we'll see what happens'. And this was my view for the whole of the first semester. It took a long time to warm up to university and I now understand why people say the transition to university is difficult. I really struggled at the end of my first semester - not academically but mentally. I was tired and adapting to a world that was very new to me: being an adult. Haha, at least to a degree. 

Because I got quite down over December, I decided to take January to focus on me. To focus on eating right, on exercising, on music, art - basically re-discovering those things that make me happiest. It took the whole of January, but it worked. I finally felt that little bit more comfortable with myself again. This was probably helped by the fact that I got a job and started working with some lovely people who never failed to cheer me up in some way or another. 

By the time semester two of uni started I felt a lot better. Healthy body, healthy mind is not just a saying - it's true. And it's very important. Going into this semester I decided I would push myself to change those little insecurities that may be holding me back in...well...life. Although I'm not exactly an introvert (at all), I still get nervous about things and what people think of me - as anyone and everyone does. But it was time to triumph that. To not let it hold me back. 

As small and insignificant as it seems, when we had the vocal auditions for the show we were doing I volunteered to go second. Usually it's the sort of situation where everyone sits there in silence, nobody volunteering, nobody wanting to go next and the lecturer has to pick someone at random when the awkward silence goes on for too long. But not this time! My volunteering was slightly scary, but made me feel really brave and proved to me that I could. It actually made me wonder why on earth people are so worried about volunteering! I mean, we're going to have to do it anyway - you may as well do it with some enthusiasm, right?

After that tiny moment where I volunteered, I knew I could. And pretty much each time there was an opportunity for me to put myself forward, I took it. Over the semester it's actually given me more opportunity to learn about the roles in theatre and what I'm capable of doing. Yeah, there were definitely more opportunities I probably could have snatched up, but it's a process and it takes time to build confidence. Personally I'm proud that I pushed myself in the moments I did and I am glad that I'm able to recognize the moments I didn't.

So what now? I guess we keep pushing. Pushing ourselves to cross the lines we've been treading. Getting out of our comfort zones and sometimes even putting ourselves in slightly terrifying situations. Obviously safe ones though - lets not jump in a barrel and go over the Niagara Falls because that's just silly. But you get my gist. There's a lot of opportunity out there and more importantly within yourself. To find it, you've got to try. But you will. Even if you're not expecting much.

- Sarah