Speaking out will get a lot of people to hate you.
I’ve been thinking about this all morning, since one of my recent posts got linked to places that had people running back and forth to hate on it. It’s not the first time this has happened, either. The question is, should it be the last time?
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought this morning. I really don’t want to be the target of peoples’ hatred. It’s no fun, and it’s painful, and as much as I’d like to toss my thin hair and say that I don’t care, it’s simply not true. I do. I want to reach out and make friends with every person who hates me. I want to sit down with them for coffee or tea or go for a walk with them and try and just be with them. I want to laugh with them, cry with them, and share life with them.
I know that that’s neither practical nor possible. I’ve fallen victim to the internet hate machine myself, but I’ve also noticed that people tend to cluster around certain areas and groups for that hate. Places where it’s more socially acceptable, like online Heathenry, New Atheism, and various other religious and political movements. I’ve tried to understand because I’m not immune to it either. I’ve often spoken before about how hate-juice and fear-juice make money – people seem to get addicted to the masochistic thrill of seeing someone say horrible things that apply to them or things that they love. It can’t be healthy.
I’m a person who is experienced in repression. I’ve spent a lot of my life hiding parts of myself, and denying myself things that I want to do. The main reason that I engaged in this behavior is social pressure; I didn’t want to be seen a certain way. I didn’t want to have people target me for the hatred that I saw them targeting other people with. I was afraid of it.
Every time you suppress some part of what makes you who you are, a part inside of you twists. Pretty soon you walk around as a mess of painful knots tied around each other and every movement hurts. You’re used to it, though, in part because that pain gives you that hate-juice and it’s a powerful drug. It can keep you going. Repression can fuel itself even when social fears dim, because part of that repression is a license to lash out at people who haven’t repressed those same parts of themselves.
I used to be that miserable, and then I started being honest about who I was and the things that I experienced. I surfaced, bit by bit, and depressurized. It is possible to get out of that hatejuice cycle, but it takes self-acceptance and self love.
It also takes jumping past the fear of what other people will think.
One of my favorite things to talk about recently is how I’ve gotten a lot of mileage in life from doing things that I was afraid to do. Coming out as the fifty shades of rainbow that I am, being publicly Pagan/Witch/Heathen/whatever else, even liking certain stories and concepts are all things that I hid and thus kept my insides twisted. While I would lose people each time I stopped hiding those parts of myself, I would gain even more. People really do appreciate you being honest about yourself, but you have to prepare yourself for the possibility that it won’t be the people that you want to appreciate you for it. You may lose people that you think that you want to be around you, but they will definitely be replaced by people who like you because of your qualities and your ability to be honest about them.
I still have knotted bits in me and likely always will; social navigation all but ensures it. One of my life goals, though, is to become as unknotted as possible in this way.To be free to be myself, and to be willing to face losing the people that I will over it. It’s happened before, when I came out as trans, when I came out as poly, when I started being more publicly Pagan, when I wrestled with my association with Heathenry, when I reminded people that I have Muslim family (even if they won’t talk to me because of who I am)… It’s worth it. It’s worth losing people who don’t love you for who you are to gain people who do love you for who you are.
I’ve seen people who gather to crow and spit poison who I can’t imagine would be friends or associates for any other reason. In fact, they often have deep divides between them, but are united by their hobby of hate and that they serve as good cheerleaders for each others’ hatred.
I wish I knew of a way to not be a target of that hatred anymore. There is a difference between producing material that these hate-groups will descend upon and actively encouraging their hatred, and that’s a line I need to learn clearly because it’s one I have no desire to cross again. I want to be able to be myself as much as I can be, and in doing so acknowledge that people will always find fault and a reason to hate me.
I think these groups form out of people so used to repressing and suppressing the parts of themselves that make them who they are that they can’t see any other way. When they see people doing the thing that a buried, hidden (almost certainly hidden to them at this point) part of themselves wants to do, it turns their baleful gaze in that direction and they shame people the way they have been shamed (whether their shaming was direct or simply a reaction to their perceptions of society at large). There are no more fiercely anti-gay people than folks deeply in the closet; and I know that I was very transphobic until I started to know other trans people and see them just being themselves without qualification or justification, and without fear.
I’ve always been a talker. My mom and stepfather and his family used to complain about how much I spoke as a child. I like talking, I like expressing, and that’s a part of me. That’s a part of me that causes me to curl up and grow bitter when that is suppressed, too, which is how I know that it’s an essential part of who I am.
I won’t be reacting to hate by withdrawing, despite the voices clamoring in me to do so in reaction to the voices spewing hate at or about me. I’ll keep talking and keep singing my song of many parts, and in doing so I will keep losing folks that didn’t really love me for me in the first place, and I’ll keep gaining folks that want to be around someone who is like me. I’ll keep feeding peoples’ hate, but I’ll also keep reminding other people that there are people out there who are like them, and it’s okay for them to express those parts of themselves, and that there are other people who will stand by them when they do.
Nothing will make everyone like me, as much as part of me would like that to be the case. Genuine honesty and living as myself has drawn to me the sort of people that want to be around people like me, and there’s no one I’d rather spend my life around. Don’t let fear of losing people prevent you from being yourself, because your health is more important than their company.