I don’t usually use my blog to post about more personal, social or political issues as I prefer it keep posts fun and positive. Instead, my blogs acts as more of a creative outlet for me to deal with the issues that get me down and make my blood boil. However, today is different. This post although serious in nature is dedicated to not just fashion but also difference. And, really if you read my about page, that is primarily why I originally created this blog.
So many of us have always been so worried about being different. Growing up like most children, tweens and teens, I did also. We were taught to fit in and not stand out. “Don’t be different, be like everyone else”. If you didn’t fit in to the “normal’ category then you would be an outcast and no one wanted to be an outcast. But as I said when I created this blog, what I learnt from the years of mean girls and heart breaks is that difference is something that should be celebrated. I whole heartedly believe that we should all embrace the qualities that make us quirky and different to the person next to us. It is what makes each one of us special. We are who we are, we were born this way. The people who embody this notion should (in my opinion) be commended not condemned.
One of the reasons that I love fashion is that it can be used as a creative outlet for one’s personality. It allows each one of us to express ourselves. Who we are can be conveyed through our outfit or something as simple as an accessory or a hair style. I believe that fashion is art and the world is our stage to display that art.
Over the past week, my social media has been blowing up due to an incident that happened to a close family member in Sydney. Getting my thoughts together on this situation has been tough because when I get fired up about something that I am passionate about, I lose the ability to use my words and give up altogether.
Now I know that I am not always the biggest patriot, having always loved the US and now living here for almost 10 years. But I have been really proud of my country in recent months. We finally took a step forward in Australia when we voted yes on marriage equality. In that moment, we established ourselves as a Country that values progression and its willingness to challenge the status quo and move towards equality for all. Sadly, some perspectives are still so very backwards and are entrenched in misunderstanding and fear.
Hate is an awful thing. However, most of the time, hate stems from fear and fear of the unknown. So let me make some things known about the man this post is dedicated to, Brendan de la Hay.
This man is courageous. This man is generous, kind and loving. This man is talented and creative beyond words. And this man is my cousin and one of my best friends. Anyone who knows him is lucky to have such an incredible spirit in their life. The best thing about this person is he could choose to be silent. He could decide to live under the radar and try to fit into other people view of what is “normal” but he doesn’t. He could sit back and just take abuse like he has for most of his life, abuse just for having the courage to be exactly who he is. Abuse for standing up and being unequivocally and unapologetically the person that God made him.
But he doesn’t remain silent. Because he knows the only way to break down these incredibly ignorant perspectives is to fight them, to stand up and say NO, this is not okay. Labels are just labels. Words are just words. This man is a real person. He feels deeply like the rest of us and he has an extraordinary personality and gentle soul.
Over the last few years, I have watched how calmly he deals with hate and criticism. Where I just get infuriated, he encourages me to listen and try to understand a perspective different to my own, no matter how unfair and ridiculous in nature these views may seem to me. He encourages a dialog and listening to both sides of a debate. He encourages me to remain calm and not get angry and retaliate.
If there is something or someone that you don’t understand I challenge you (as well as myself) to be as courageous and tolerant as he is. Sit down and try to understand where people are coming from. Learn more about them. Break down these incredibly archaic walls that still seem to exist in our society. I feel if we did this, we wouldn’t be so fearful. And hate would not be something anyone felt towards this person that I love more than the world because he is a truly magnificent individual.
Let’s be clear, sometimes it’s not just strangers who fear and misunderstand us. It could be our co-workers, friends or family members. Sometimes it’s people we have known our whole lives, the people who are supposed to love us and support us through the ups and downs. When I find I myself faced with these situations, I try to remember my late grandfather. He was the first to understand that the people he loved were all human and he always supported everyone of us without judgment for our quirks, actions and failures. He was so proud of each of us no matter what.
Thank you Brendan Hay for reminding me of the kind of person I want to be. You are one of the most courageous people I have ever known. And I need to apologize. All my life I have wanted to protect you because you were my little cousin. I realize now that you don’t need any protection. You are able to handle yourself in the face of all adversity with grace, courage and love. You won’t back down and you won’t crumble. You won’t stop fighting for equality. The world needs more people like you. The kind of people who stand up for those who don’t have a voice for whatever reason that may be. I love you. Never stop being exactly you you are because that person is incredible.
And to the rest of us, let’s continue to stand up and be different. It only makes us stronger. And it is the only way we can make a change.