‘Why do gay people need to display their sexuality? Why can’t they just keep it quiet? Why do they need to make a big deal about it?’
I keep hearing this, and other versions of this, regarding other sections of society that have been repressed and are attempting to step forward and be accepted as equals.
I’ve heard it about the Black Lives Matter campaign, that some feel should be ‘all lives matter.’
I’ve heard it in relation to feminism as well.
‘Why do women have to rave on and on about how they were treated in the past? Or ‘pull the woman card?’
So, here’s my attempt at an explanation.
There’s a genie in a bottle story — I’m fuzzy on the details but my version goes like this…
If you take a genie and you put it in a bottle and leave it there for 2 weeks, then let it out, it’s going to be relieved to be out of the bottle, it’s going to be relieved to be able to move around and to feel free again. It may even thank you for letting it out.
If you leave the genie in the bottle for 6 months, then you let it out, it’s gonna be relieved to be out and to have its freedom, but it’s also gonna be a little pissed at you for squeezing it into the bottle in the first place and leaving it there for so long.
If you leave the genie in the bottle for 2 years, it’s gonna come out and primarily be pissed at you for leaving it in there so long. It’s gonna be angry, upset and hurt. Maybe even confused as to why you did this to it.
If you leave the genie in the bottle for 10 years, it’s gonna come out mad as hell. It just lost 10 years of its life. A decade of feeling like no one gives a shit about it. A decade of feeling like it isn’t important and of not being heard.
At this 10 year mark, before the genie decks you, it’s probably gonna scream every obscenity at you, and attempt to get you to understand how you’ve made it feel.
It will probably want you to acknowledge what you’ve done and maybe even want to get some kind of redemption or compensation for it.
Then it will never talk to you again. And it will only ever remember you as the arsehole who locked it in a bottle for ten years.
Imagine, then, what the genie might feel and want to do if you left it in the bottle for thousands of years.
Thousands, of years.
The genie is not going to be mad as hell, it’s going to be explosive.
It’s going to be outraged.
It isn’t going to feel like the fight is over just because it’s out of the bottle. It’s going to want justice. It’s going to want you, the bottler, to be held accountable.
I can see, then, why some people might think it’d be easier not to let the genie out of the bottle now, after those thousands of years.
If you’ve left it in there for so long, and you know how outraged they may be if you let them out, then you know they may be so disruptive once let out.
Much less mess if we just keep the lid on it, right?
Well, for some, sure.
But when we shift our minds from the genie analogy to our very real social minorities, then it’s no longer just a story about a genie.
Now we are talking about humanity. And we should see it as a humanity — because we ARE talking about humans.
You cannot repress people for just being who they were born as — for just not being born, a man, or a heterosexual, or white. You can’t repress people for that, and then expect them to not fight back, get angry, want justice, make noise, and seek redemption and acknowledgement at some point.
At some point they’re going to rise. Come out of their metaphorical bottles.
And you can’t expect them to not dance in the streets and rejoice publicly when they make progress in their quest to be seen as equals.
So, the very act of wanting a once repressed person to repress their joy when they are no longer repressed, is ironic and nonsensical.
I hope, in moving forward, that I am witness to many more public displays of love and joy when the repressed rise, become seen, heard and accepted.
I look forward to seeing dancing, singing, hugging, kissing, confetti, and loads of loud and disruptive displays of celebration as each step of equality is taken.
With understanding and compassion to others, no matter how different they look from us, then we can change.
If we all do this, maybe anything is possible?