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Being You

Steve Campbell

In the last blog I talked about lines between people. Now I’d like to turn that around.
This may not be popular with all readers, but I am me, and that’s what I do. That, in fact, is what this column is about. You may not care for what I say. I don’t care. That’s because …
I am not an ordinary person. I’m not a brilliant person. I am not the kind of person women swoon over, though I shower almost every day, and never leave the toilet seat up. I’m what is called a weird person. I am not ‘normal’, but according to my Artsie’s Psych book (see last column) true professional therapists who did not get their degrees from Amazon, frown upon the use of the term ‘normal’.
This is instrumental in our discussion. No such thing as ‘normal’. Remember when your teacher sucked so badly at teaching that his entire class ended up in the 30 per cent success range. So this was ‘bell-curved’ by people who didn’t want it known they had hired a total boob as a teacher.
Suddenly, your 35 per cent escalates you to Einstein territory, and everyone behind you is now an Ontario Scholar. The point of this exercise is to say: Normal is adjustable.
In short, nobody knows what normal is. Yet we are told, time and again, that we must be normal. Even if we’re not. Parents are totally on this. They want their kids to be normal, and even spend all night building a Science Fair project, so their kid, who is playing ‘Death and More Death by Violent Means with Lots of Blood’ on his video system, can get a good mark.
This is not normal. (And I thought I was crazy!)

Now, to the next level
As you read this, you are probably assessing if you are normal. Depends on your description. If you have a job you hate, yet you do it every day for the paycheque, waiting for retirement and a pension? You are 1950s normal. If you are a female doing the same work as a man, and getting less pay, because you just take it? You are 1960s normal.
Those lines I talked about last issue, they are fading. But at a snail’s pace. That’s how social change goes. But there’s social change, and just … change.
Change comes from below, not from above. Every body and every group seeks political change. We appeal to our governments, but that’s a train that ain’t comin’ for a long, long time. So what then?
It’s simple: Change happens. That’s what we, as a society, are seeing right now. It’s grass roots.

Being who you are
There is no mystery to this. I am what I am. I’m not perfect; I have many faults, none of which I choose to deal with at the moment. I think this feeling is shared by most of us. I could be better. (I don’t thinking showering more would help my lack of female attraction).
But at some point you say: This is what I am. This is what I got. Deal with it. I’m happy where I am, because I’ve always done the work I loved to do. That’s good enough for me. Which brings me to …

Things started to change
Ah! Here we go, back to ‘normal’. I shook that off years ago. ‘Normal’ didn’t fit, and was way too restrictive to work for me. I headed off in a crazy direction, and set off on my own. Gathered friends with great talent along the way. But there were days I stretched a box of Kraft Dinner over seven days.
So I fought my battles, with great help. Now, here in the County, we are joining together to erase some of the lines drawn in previous decades.
I’ve had a shop in Bloomfield for 40 years. You won’t be surprised: I get ‘em all. I had an anti-gay in the shop (as a result of a column) demanding I explain myself. I said: “If you can live your life and find someone who can love you, and who loves you in return? I think you’re a lucky person.” To me, it’s simple.

Here’s the Big Thing
I believe strongly that each of us need to be what we need to be. Sometimes people decide that their gender is not what they thought they were assigned to. Sometimes for all of their lives they fought it. That is a line that is now blurring, and rightfully so. I’ve met with a number of trans people, and there’s nothing to report. They’re happy, and they’re free, sometimes for the first time in their lives. I can’t find anything wrong with that.

A confession to make …
We are talking about who we are, and being us. I have a problem with names, as I’ve expressed in previous columns. Names to me are labels, and I don’t like labels. I’ve been called many things, but none of them stick to me. If asked to describe myself with a ‘name’, I got nothin’.
But everyone else is concerned about words. The LGB community has grown, apparently to absorb as many letters in the alphabet as are currently available. This confuses me, as I call them ‘people’ but that seems to be not good enough. I also confess I don’t know what a ‘queer’ is, and have no inclination to look it up. I used to use it to refer to some of my clients, but I now call them ‘odd’ or ‘unique’ or ‘in need of some anger management therapy’.
That being said, I had a conversation with my son on this topic, because in the draft of this column I said: “No-one knows how to ‘be’ more than the Indigenous people. They don’t give a damn what we call them. We can stand on our heads to come up with some name they care nothing about. In typical white man fashion, we dance around, remove statues they don’t care about, Council brings them into every meeting, even if they have no interest in being there. In typical fashion, Council wants to make sure its terminology is correct before proceeding. Misses the point. The question they avoid is, ‘Who are you?’ and that would result in a story that might have some meaning.”
My son Chris pointed out that sometimes names do have import. I can use ‘native’ or ‘Indian’ without malice, but in other areas in the country, these words can be used as derogatory terms. It recalled a time we said ‘redskins’ and ‘injuns’ without a second thought.
It flashed me back to a time (1968) when African-Americans were called ‘negroes’. The word twisting of that is nothing I’ll print here. But what Chris said is true: Words have power, depending on the time, the location, the culture and the intent.
This is part of ‘being you’. I describe myself as ‘a guy’. Others want to be more specific. I suspect names will change again and again. Still, the words don’t tell the story about you.
Maybe if someone asks you what you are, someday you can just say: “Me.”

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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