A few weekends ago was North Carolina Pride–a festival of solidarity, equality, and fun. Lots of fun. N.C. State’s student group marched in the parade, and then we all hung around afterwards in various manners until the day came to a close. It was enjoyable. It was–in one regard–exactly like Pride was last year and the year I went before that, but somehow that sameness makes it special–we don’t have to worry what we’ll find, because we know it already.
Somehow that sameness seems to make it meaningless.
This week is Diversity Education Week on campus, and I had a secret (though clearly unfulfilled) hope that I could write something every day. At least I’ll get MWF for new posts, which is a great improvement on my activity of late.
In any case, I stumbled today into my WordPress account and realized I had an entire post about NC Pride that I had completely ignored. And then I went to say, “Hey, I can post this,” when I realized–wait, it’s not an entire post.
It’s only two paragraphs.
And now you’ve read about three paragraphs of new material and I have no idea yet where I was going when I started writing. Which is probably why I stopped writing.
So it got me thinking, in this of all weeks, just how far does diversity go? Does it exist in a vacuum of labels and identities, or does it cluster at the points of intersectionality where identity is less uniform, less individual, more mixed and substantially shared?
Simply by saying that, you probably know what I believe.
Point being, going back to Pride, things really are the same every year. Maybe the particular booths are somewhat different, but they still sell all the same things: flags, jewelry, clothes, other such and such things as imagined. There’s food vendors. There’s tents for pets to get fresh water. There’s the so-called “angry Christians” with picket signs on the corner, screaming about each of us going to Hell.
It’s the perfect segue to an unrelated discussion of the Bible.
Like many things in life–like seasons, like death, like daytime and nighttime and even every semester and well-written blog posts–the Bible is cyclical. We read it once, then we do it again. We read it a second time, and then we do it again. It’s the principle of mathematical induction sans the math behind it.
The beauty of the Bible–and when I say the Bible, I speak in particular of the Torah, what I return to each year–is that even though the words themselves do not change–nor have they for thousands of years–the way I read them changes every time. I am a new person each time I read these stories, meet these characters, and learn to live my life with the lessons they learned in theirs.
As I change, my experience changes.
Such it should be with Pride.
My first year I went with a few other students from Guilford Tech and it was so sunny all my pictures were washed out and unrecognizable; the conversations of the day were highlighted by discussions of polyamory and subcultural identities.
Last time I went with a friend from Durham Tech and it rained most of the day and one man called me a pedophile (because, contrary to data that most pedophiles are straight, I’m a gay man). And this year I went with N.C. State students, we marched in the parade, and the weather was beautiful.
So, yes, everything was the same–but the experience was different.
What I brought with me had changed, and what I gained from it also changed.
That’s the beauty of all diversity: Even when we’re exposed to something repeatedly, even in the same capacity, it all changes when we realize we have changed between each exposure–the picture in our minds a moment ago is unlike the picture in our minds in this very instant. We live. We learn. We grow.
I’m searching for the right words for some candid conversations I plan to post here, but with such turbulent topics as the perpetuation of rape culture in the media, the prevalence of systematic and internalized racism in the United States, and even my own experiences in certain subcategories of the GLBT community, waiting for the right words instead of speaking only half-realized notions is usually safer.
Until those words arrive, as we continue along this cycle of content ebbing and flowing in proportion to my academic and extracurricular commitments, I hope you’ll take a moment when you return to something you do the same way every day or every month or every year and ask yourself, “How I am different? How this experience different because of it?”