This is my nephew. Just in case it escaped your attention, he is dressed as Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
Yesterday I was out for lunch with some of my family, including my nephew who I hadn’t seen for a few months. He was very excited to see me and I was him.
As soon as we sat in the restaurant, he started pulling out some princess figurines (which he had amusingly named Rihanna and Gaga), and he was explaining to me how beautiful they were. He told me he wished he could be as beautiful as them even though he was a boy.
This kind of comment was nothing new for him.
After we all started eating, I noticed he was facing away from us. He turned around with a tear rolling down his cheek and refused to say what was wrong. This was very out of character for him. He was usually so attention seeking and theatrical, and incredibly intelligent for his age.
After a while he put his head into his arms on the table and started crying a lot more. I leaned into him and asked what was wrong again.
He whispered really quietly to me “I don’t want to be weird.”
I responded to him saying “Weird? I’m weird. Weird is good, weird is different!”
"But I don’t want to be different, it’s wrong," he replied through tear-stained fingers.
Angry, I started “Let me tell you what’s wrong. You are five years old and people are already telling you what you should and shouldn’t say. Or what you should and shouldn’t wear. You’re crying because somebody decided what boys are supposed to do and what girls are supposed to do, and nobody should differ from that. Well, let me tell you a little something about normal…
It used to be normal to laugh at people because they had different coloured skin. It used to be normal to bully somebody if they were a boy and they loved another boy, or a girl who loved another girl. It used to be normal to pick on someone for being too fat or too skinny. It used to be normal to pick on different, and the worst part is that a lot of that stuff is still going on.
Why would you want to be normal, you’re extraordinary! If anybody tells you that you can’t be a beautiful princess, you put on that fucking dress because you are beautiful and you are a little weird, but nobody normal ever made a fucking bit of difference in the world. You wear whatever the hell you want, and like whatever the hell you like, because it’s people like you that are going to make a real, lasting change.
The world needs a lot more weird and a lot less normal.”
And he understood exactly what I meant. He lunged in for a hug and kissed me on the cheek before uttering under his breath “What does ‘fucking’ mean?”
I love that kid more than I’ve ever loved anything. Don’t make his generation fight our battles.
Shaming of every variety needs to end now, we should be celebrating different, not condemning it. Not just for society as it is now, but for society as it will be.
How many more tears do we need our children to cry?