LETTERS: April 28th Issue
Re.: Vietgone” is a Total and Refreshing Shift of Perspective
As one of the “dusty old relics” who have seen this awesome show, I need to tell you that while I was not offended by anything in the play, I was offended by your age’ist remarks. If you’re going to review the play’s audience as well as the play, you need to talk to more people.
– Cynthia Tank
Hey Messenger: For a good chunk of my young life I have been struggling with my own cultural self-identification and sexual orientation. Lately I have been feeling more confident about myself and have really become more comfortable in my own skin. But I am afraid to tell anyone. More specifically, I am afraid to tell my best friend that I identify as pansexual. My best friend has been raised in a very religious family and we tend to have opposite views but this is one thing I don’t know how she would take. I am deathly afraid that she will hate me or reject me. She is by far one of the closest people in my life, and I don’t want to be someone I am not around her. Is there a way I can approach the topic without having it turn into a questioning of my morals?
Dear Anonymous: Short answer: No, probably not, but maybe not for the reasons you think.
Long answer: There are a few different issues here. There are those that are purely your own, the process of self-discovery, growth, and decisions about what to share with others. Then there is the issue of her religion and the very likely issue of her feeling as if she were lied to. Do not get me wrong, this is still NOT your fault or even about fault. However, she will likely feel this like a burn and struggle with why you kept it from her. You will have to deal with this. The issue of religion is actually more complex and unpredictable. You cannot always be sure when or how a person’s cognitive dissonance will set in regarding religious beliefs and loved ones. Have you ever known one of those Republicans that will publicly tow that line, but will also attend the heck out of some gay marriage ceremonies and have a grand old time, partying and chatting it up with everyone? It’s like that. What I am saying is that she might be angrier over not being included in your process of self-discovery, than over the moral “differences.” It is only human and we love whom we love, despite disagreements.
My advice would be to reiterate the fact that you wanted to figure out answers to these questions on your own, before involving anyone else. From your words, it seems like this is probably true, anyway. I would also approach it from an identity perspective, something that is just who you are rather than something you “do.” What you do in your personal life is not her business unless you decide it is, although an argument can be made for who you are being part of a best friend’s business. As you said, you do not want to be someone you are not around her.
Ultimately, that delicate balance between maintaining what is right and not wanting to cause loved ones pain has to kept in some way. People decide for themselves where that line feels the most comfortable. There is no singular correct answer. My question for you is this: is a best friend who does not know a big part of your identity, really a best friend? You have to decide. If the answer can be “yes,” then do not worry about it anymore. Accept your own stance and enjoy the things you can share. If the answer is “no” as I suspect it is, then prepare for a talk, and allow the lines of empathy to flow both directions.