My thoughts on Jason Collins - I Couldn’t Care Less.
I heard my first Jason Collins joke today. It wasn’t funny. For anyone that doesn’t know, Jason Collins is a 12-year veteran of the NBA who recently came out as the first professional, gay male athlete. It didn’t take long for one of my male friends to crack wise about it. I spent the next ten minutes trying to educate the would-be jokester on why it wasn’t funny. It made me think a lot about my evolution as a person and how it came about.
Growing up in a Chicago suburb, I was not ignorant of prejudice or bigotry. The mostly white neighborhood I lived in had its share of residents willing to start trouble if you looked different or had a funny last name. Tough kids of Irish, Polish and Czech families grew up listening to the rough-and-tumble stories of their fathers, uncles, and cousins who fought in the city streets so their kids could live in the suburbs.
Being a teenage boy in high school is a little like being the new guy in prison. You’re constantly worried about being singled out. Like a pack of wolves on the hunt, other teens are always on the lookout for a wounded victim that may make easy prey. How do you make yourself look strong? By picking off the weakest among you as warning to anyone that might challenge your superiority. It was bloodthirsty. Your only options were to either fly under the radar or stand tall and make yourself look too hard to challenge.
Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but as a teenage boy, the mentality of always having to have your guard up, always having to show toughness was something passed down from one generation to the next like an old Timex. It existed throughout our entire adolescent lives. Not just at home or school either – on television, in magazines, and sports all presented this idealized male standard that we looked up to. About the worst thing anyone could call you was “faggot”. It was a weapon more powerful than fists and you soon wielded it with the grace of a chainsaw.
Is it an excuse? No. But the reality is that growing up being told that the worst thing you could be was gay, sticks with you. The idea that you were less than a man, if you loved another man, was a powerful drop of poison in a young mind. That you might also be embarrassing yourself, disgracing your family, and opening yourself up to a lifetime of ridicule and hate was too much to even imagine.
But things can change. Experiences alter your perspective. You start to see the bigger picture. You grow by meeting people and listening to them. You gain empathy and wisdom by seeing the realities that others have to struggle with. You soon see friends and family members whose courage is something to be admired not whose existence is something to be ashamed of. You slowly are able to let go of the past and welcome a future where your prejudice no longer weighs you down and irrational fears no longer overcome your intellect or compassion.
I hear a lot of people say they are just sick and tired of hearing about gay rights or gay pride. I have to admit that I feel the same way sometimes. I just don’t care anymore about it. I don’t want to hear it every day on the news, in the media. So what if some basketball player is gay? I really couldn’t care less. It has no effect on my life one way or another. It is a foregone conclusion in my mind that gay marriage should be legal and LGBT people should be legally protected by our government as much as anyone else. Where do I sign on the dotted line? How do I make this happen already? It’s not a big deal that a professional athlete has come out as gay; just get over it already and leave me alone. It’s not a big deal. I just don’t care.
But then I hear another gay joke and I remember that not everyone feels the same.
Some people do care. They care about telling other people how to live. They care about protecting something they have no right to define. They care about their own insecurities more than they care about human rights and decency. They care about making other people feel less than human because of who they spend their lives with.
Sure, not everyone that makes a gay joke or chuckles at the thought of a gay athlete feels that way. I think more often than not it’s not hatred or anger that fuels these reactions as it is the instinct you get from growing up the way I did. But as long as you chuckle along and let it slide, the poison will continue to be spilled.
We as a society have to continue to educate. We have to continue to spread empathy and understanding not hatred and fear. We have to keep making people attuned to the problems that exist and the humanity that is being sacrificed so that we can keep changing attitudes and broaden perspectives. Compassion can be learned as easily as hatred and fear.
When I was a kid, it used to upset me if someone called me a fag. It made me doubt myself. I associated it with weakness. I didn’t understand the courage and bravery it takes to be who you are, regardless of what other people think or what it might cost you. I didn’t understand what it would be like for a man like Jason Collins to hide who he is because of the fear he felt inside. I couldn’t feel for someone like him because I was too worried what people might think of me. Now, I just don’t care.
I hope someday everyone will be as carefree as me.
I will be set up in artist alley all weekend at C2E2 - The Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo. I will have prints for sale, including my new Wolverine, Harley Quinn and Game Of Thrones. Please come say hello. Hope to see you there.
My entry into the Mutiversity Comics “Evolution of Abe Sapien” contest. I’m a huge fan of all of the Mignola-verse, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to sow up in a issue of B.P.R.D. I ran across an old poem entitled ‘The Forsaken Merman’ a while back and always had associated it with Abe. It has a sadness and longing to it that I think Abe has as well.
This is pen and ink on 10x14 bristol with photoshop color and some textures. It had been a while since I have used traditional nibs and ink. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I’m going to try to do more.
WARNING: THIS IS A POLITICAL POST. PLEASE TRY AND READ IT WITH AN OPEN MIND. I AM NOT TRYING TO PREACH MY PERSONAL POLITICS TO ANYONE, JUST GIVING AN OPINION.
As a constituent of your district, I am very concerned with the lack of movement by the Senate on the state of the Federal Sequester. This is a critical moment in our country and I do not believe that political grandstanding should get in the way of what is best for the people of our country.
As an American, it sickens me that my government is so very willing to bail out banks, corporations and financial institutions, time and time again, but when the least fortunate of us are in need, the system conveniently breaks down due to gamesmanship and infighting.
It is time for you to represent the interests of the people, not just the lobby groups and financial backers to your party. Do your job or we, the people, will find someone else that can.
Sent this to my Senator. I know you may not agree with all or any of it, but as long as we keep fighting each other, these bastards are just going to keep selling our country out from underneath us. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, whatever party you are a part of, we are all being sold out by politicians to special interest groups and lobbyists. They distract us by getting us riled up by talking points and Gordian knots of issues, while they plunder and steal, lie and cheat, and destroy or relations with the rest of the world. I don’t have all the answers but if we don’t start holding our representatives responsible then why would they ever act in a responsible manner? Whatever you believe is the best course of action for us as a nation, make sure your representatives hear from you. Don’t let someone else be your voice. They may not have your best interests at heart.