It dawns on me that I may be one of the last from the Sticks & Stones generation. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me! That’s what they always told us. They even told my generation that and I’m still considered young in some circles. I grew up in the gray area where kids were beginning to win a trophy for just breathing and yet were still told to “Suck it up!”
I went through a very harrowing teenage existence where I wanted to kill myself, just like everybody else. I was embarrassed from kindergarten to high school. They called me a little pansy gay boy before I knew what any of those words meant. I fled from society and thought about packing it in several times. At the end of the day I did not kill myself and therefore I became a survivor. The torture I felt I had endured was par for the course. Ultimately, I did not survive because people coddled me. I survived because people told me to buck up, kid.
I ran from the big mean society of high school and retreated to the Internet. I was like any gay boy found throughout the 20th century. They grew up and searched for a terrestrial solution, a private club that would take them in and lick their wounds. Since I didn’t have that outlet or that era I found My Tribe digitally on the Internet in the 90’s. The beat up queers united within this Tribe, just as good as an offline one, and held each other up. When I emerged from this digital gestation I was a blend of my history. I learned that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Today we live in a coddled world where people take offense to everything. What they now call mean, harsh, abuse, is what I call growing up. These people aren’t exactly wrong. It’s an unfortunate process we all must go through. It would be much easier if we didn’t have to. But it would seem impossible to circumvent that process judging from the way they are turning out it.
Learning to live with stinging barbs and the reality of life is also the breeding ground for a great sense of humor. I grew up with people who hated me and made fun of me. I also grew up around people who loved me and made fun of me. It’s all about the context that it’s said in. We’re missing a lot of context in this 21st century.
I have experienced these children not catching my context all too much. I am now seen as “a big meanie” in the eyes of social justice warriors and special snowflakes. And it’s not all their fault! How can they understand my context when they don’t even know me? Who can know anyone on the Internet anymore? Who can know anyone offline anymore? You’re too busy just reading 140 characters or avoiding eye contact when we’re at the bar.
I’ve never cared about the things people have cared about. While I have always been on the side of the repressed freak unique, I have never wanted to be confused with a coddler. I have sympathy and I have empathy, but I have never told anyone that they should prolong their wallowing. I stand firmly with the fact you need to buck up, kid.
My barbs and my observations are comedy. That doesn’t make them fiction. That doesn’t mean I’m kidding. I’m quite serious. I’m a sarcastic bitch. I want to be the one always leaving the off-color jabs, but I always assume that you know I am coming from a place of love.
That’s the gray area I grew up within. The things said were all about the context of your relationship with the person. (Relationships. Ever had those with people?) I had this amazing friend once who was the meanest person I had ever known. Everything he ever said was insulting and a total put down. At first I was so offended because I had never had a friend who was quite so mean before. Then I got to know him and saw he was just a sensitive soul with a well-crafted comedy. That guy was more loving than most people could ever be and he made love like a lightning rod. There was nothing but love in him and the more comedic barbs he threw your way, the more he loved you.
I find I am walking through a constant winter wonderland of Special Snowflakes these days. They can’t take a joke. They think mean things are mean. They think calling someone black is racist. They think using the word trannie is a slur. They think making fun of girlie men is an attack upon the girlie man. All of which I direct you towards a seminar on context.
If I love you and make fun of your scarf then I’m not really hating you or your scarf. If I call my best friend a trannie hooker that doesn’t mean I feel she’s a slutty piece of garbage. I kid you for I love you.
It’s always been about perception. I’ve always told you that perception is everything. Because, have you seen me? I’m a man in a dress. I’m a transgender freak unique who has decided to build my house on the fence between everything. If there is anyone who I have joked with more than anyone it is myself. I would never make fun of someone else unless I was doing so with a light heart, giving a sarcastic smirk towards a culture gone amok.
The wormhole chewed me up and spit me out to find that all of those generic and annoying phrases were true all along. Have a sense of humor. Buck up. Don’t take life so seriously. Sticks and stones, kid, sticks and stones …