A few weeks ago, I was texting one of my friends about the horrible amounts of Chemistry homework that we had due the next day. As my friend got to a question that was difficult, he texted me saying, “This is so gay.” My first reaction was one of shock, as I found it difficult to understand how someone could so plainly use a word which insinuates a negative connotation about a sexuality. In response, I was reluctant to confront him about the use of this word, as I often shy away from conflict. I was with another friend at the time and I proceeded to recount to him the phrase I had just been texted. My friend’s reaction to this was one of anger, but what surprised me most was that his anger was not directed at the speaker of this line, but more at me, for not immediately confronting him about his careless use of the word “gay” and the deep derogatory meanings embedded in what he had said. He went on to explain to me that the use of the word “gay” or any derogatory word for that matter, shows ignorance within this human race, and that this ignorance is one of the worst things that someone can display in this world. He showed me through his anger and disappointment in me that I cannot take a backseat in this issue, and simply shrink away in times of conflict, but I must fight on the premise of my morals, and strive to educate the ignorant of this world.
After this experience, I felt disappointed in myself. I felt as though throughout my own reluctance to engage in any sort of dispute, I had let down myself, my morals, and my duty as a human, and at that point I made a pledge to myself that I would fight and make a stand against this ignorance and against further use of words which are insulting and suggest that a derogatory emotion can be applied to a certain sexuality. The use of these words is not okay. I have grown up in a world where I seemingly walk into a given building and hear jokes revolving around someone’s race, religion, or sexuality, and I cannot express how upset and disappointed that makes me. I want our human race to evolve to be one where we can be accepting and nurturing of each and every fellow human. I think about my children, and I cannot bear the thought of them being made to feel bad about a trait of theirs which they cannot control. I want my children to be raised in a society which rejects the use of words said with a negative connotation such as “gay”, a society which strives to create an environment where everybody can be themselves, no matter what that might be, a society where each and every person can hold their identity in their hands and not have to constantly be knocked down by the oppressive, and insulting views of society, and the status quo. Being different is not the problem, the problem the voices in the world actively supporting the viewpoint that we all must be the same, that we all must conform to what the majority deems socially acceptable. But living in a world where this is the case is not okay with me. We should not be expected to succumb and endure the stereotypes people use in regard to us, and we should not allow people to place us into a box where everything outside of this box is considered “gay” and given such a negative connotation. Instead, we must work to break this binding box down, and to inspire others to do the same. As we notice the stereotypes and social inequality ever present in our lives, we must not show ignorance, but we must stand up and end this problem. I have stood in the back lines for far too long, and I feel as though I have not done my part in battling the ignorance of this world. I have dropped the ball, but I am determined to pick it up again and make up for this mistake, and to provide my children and future generations with a world that I would be proud to live in, a world far from the one I do live in.
I want this to be a calling to everyone reading this. Our air is being polluted time after time, day after day, by ignorance constantly driving us to use words that ridicule a person’s religious, racial, or sexual affinity. We must not allow this to happen anymore, we can no longer abide by the corrupt status quo. This is our time to stand up and fight, to engage in a campaign to end this pollution and move towards a society in which we can all breathe clean air. My name is Nick Jain and I pledge to keep our air clean, and work in an everlasting struggle against ignorance, and I beg every last person in this world to do the same.