SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2012       Personal Memory Ethnographies

Arash Sadeghi

Disguised Secret

 It was around two pm when the middle school bell rang. The ringing meant that classes for the day were over. I packed my things together and went to my locker to grab a few more books before leaving. When I arrived at my locker, another student was blocking my path. I said, “Could you move please?” He looked at me for a moment with his cold eyes and slowly moved. I smiled to show my appreciation and gratitude, but I smiled only in my mind. I quickly grabbed a few things and from my locker and headed to the school entrance. By this time the school hallways had become crowded and hindered me from leaving the school. I slowly continued to move toward the entrance of the school building as the crowd started to thicken even further. I felt uncomfortable and anxious being in such a tight and closed environment. The air was dense and it was very difficult to inhale the hot air created by the crowd.

It was only a few short years ago when my unpleasant incident occurred. It was during this time when the turning point on equal rights began for people of different sexual orientation. Countries, mostly in Europe, began recognizing people of different sexual orientation and shared human rights until then had been reserved only for heterosexuals. A boom of equality regarding sexuality and human rights swept throughout Europe.

As I left the school building, a gust of the cold Virginia air pushed itself onto me. It was as if the winter weather wanted me to acknowledge its presence. Around me the students were cramped together attempting to reach the school buses that were ready to leave at any moment. The air was dry from the coldness and I did not know if another power was at work to create this cold winter. Still, it was difficult for me to breathe and every time I tried to breathe normally, my nose would become irritated. The air was light and I could almost smell the plant life around me, but I knew that wasn’t possible. My nose felt like a frozen Popsicle so how could I have had a sense of smell? After a few minutes I began to breathe through my mouth. Breathing in the cold air, my mouth felt as if I was inhaling a vaporous form of ice without moisturizing my mouth. My lips were chapped, my mouth was dried up, and my second skin, my layered clothing could not protect me from the cold. Were these the signs of a presence of which I was not aware?

Everyone’s story does not always have a happy ending. There are still some countries in the world that do not recognize that a person of different sexuality is still human. These countries do not recognize that he or she still has the same desires and needs as everyone else in their society. Some argue that it is morally wrong and causing harm to their culture. These people are seen as a threat to the cultural norms and discrimination is practiced against people of different sexuality.

“Arash! – Arash! – STOP!”

I had only taken a few steps from the entrance of the school when I heard my name shouted from a distance. I slowed my movement and looked around. I could not see anyone I recognized. The bright sun was not helping with my vision either. Yet, it did provide a sense of warmth and comfort on my exposed skin. After a few moments I assumed that I simply had misunderstood and that no one really called my name. Ignoring my surroundings I began moving with the crowd. I heard my name called again. This time I stopped and forced the crowd of people to go around me. I became an obstacle in their path. I quickly looked at everyone’s face and tried to anyone. Slowly, I became anxious, afraid I would not be able to reach the school bus. My internal clock was ticking fast and I still could not see anyone I recognized in the vast crowd. I was afraid I would be left behind and forgotten.

In the United States today, only eight states recognize some sort of a civil union between same sex couples. It is somewhat amazing that the European countries are beating Americans when it comes to same sex rights. Even though the President of the United States has come out in 2012 with his support of same sex couples, he is the first and might be the last president to do so. Still, for half a century this issue of sexuality has existed, but only recently, in the past decade, has there been any real development for human rights in the United States. This is probably the cause of why less than a quarter of the American states have granted civil unions to people of the same sex.

Then I saw someone waving their hand from a distance. The hand came closer and close. It changed its shape into an arm and then into a person. At first I did not recognize him but after a few moments I was able to do so. It was one of my classmates. We never talked in class or even interacted in any way. I did not even know his name and I almost wanted to turn around and leave before the school buses left. Why did I not turn my body and let the crowd sweep me away? When he reached to my location, he suddenly asked me a question.

“Hey, do you have girlfriends?”

“ Yeah, I do have girlfriends”

“Do you have boyfriends?”

“ Yeah, I do have boyfriends”

I smiled when I heard his answers. I asked him again if he had a boyfriend and a girlfriend and he said yes to both of them again. I called out to my friend to come and hear what he just said. A cold breeze blew and a chill shivered up my spine. I did not think much about the chilly air. The sun was shining its powerful beams that provided a layer of warmth on my skin. I did not let the weather distract me though. I turned to him and asked him if he had a boyfriend. He paused. Then he forced the words out of his mouth and said yes. I was having fun at the time and it was very amusing. When my friends arrived I told them to listen to what this guy says. I asked him again if he had a boyfriend and he did not say anything. I asked him again thinking that maybe he did not hear me over the noise of the crowd. He still did not say anything. He then quickly turned and started to walk away. I tried to stop him with my words.

“Wait! Where are you going?”

He did not stop as he continued to walk away. Slowly, he disappeared into the crowd.

Many people now believe that people of a different sexual orientation should be considered equal. Yet there are those who do not have the same beliefs. In the United States violent acts against homosexuals have been common and some cases involving rape and torture were covered national television because of how horrific they were. An example of this would be the case of Matthew Shepard. Matthew Shepard died in 1998 as a result of a hate crime in regard to his sexual orientation. His face was disfigured by his attackers and he was stabbed several times. In court the young men who killed him claimed it was his sexual orientation that caused him to become disfigured, which in turn resulted in his death.

I felt ashamed, uncomfortable, and vulnerable. I did not know what I had just done but I knew I did answer the questions correctly. Feeling weak and helpless my vision started to become blurry. It was not the fault of the cold dry air or the bright warm shining sun. It was the tears that were accumulating in my eyes. I felt a pain in my stomach. I was able to hold my tears so I would go unnoticed by the crowd until I could get inside the bus. As I entered the school bus I could not hold the tears any longer. I tilted my head down so I would not make eye contact with those already on the bus. When I found an empty seat I sat down and was able to ease the pain by letting a few drops of water come out of my eyes. I turned my head toward the school bus window while slightly tilting my head down. The tears dropped out of my eyes without hesitation on this day, marked the beginning of my isolation. I became paranoid and questioned the motives of everyone around me. I even limited my conversations and spoke as little as possible with other students.

I created a toxic environment for myself. For many years I stayed in my comfortable and toxic environment and did not attempt to leave. I created scenarios with negative attributes in my mind to prepare myself and prevent any type of harm to myself. These negative scenarios contributed to my own paranoia and fueled it even more as I went into a deep isolation and depression.

My reasoning for my isolation was simple. Many horrific things have happened to people of different sexual orientation. Globally, violent acts against other human beings of different sexuality are common, and right now, in my own present, it showed little or no room for a better future for any person of different sexuality to expand on their basic human rights, to achieve things that would be perceived to go against the cultural and social norms, and to gain new meaning and understanding of what and how they themselves work as a human being.

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