There is one aspect of myself that makes me different. It is not something I would change if I could and honestly I don’t feel that I can. It is noteworthy only because there are more people who aren’t like me than who are. But it is not inherently odd, really it’s just another size of the same coin. Anyway, it only represents a tiny portion of what makes me who I am.
Only two generations ago, people like me were systematically converted in both public and private educational institutions in the United States. With physical beating and emotional shaming, the goal was to ensure that no one reached adulthood manifesting this insidious trait. Policies have since changed, and now, forced conversion is mostly a thing of the past in the United States. Either society has accepted the behavior or conceded that people cannot be compelled to change it. It is not hard to imagine that future generations will continue the trend toward embracing this difference until it is on the order of the mundane, hardly relevant at all to a person’s identity and certainly not a factor in their education.
That which is different is often vilified. There is a tendency to assign “good” and “evil” to what are seen as opposing traits. Yet, this trait of mine, like so many, exists along a spectrum. Because I exhibit it to a noticeable extent, I bear its label. It is convenient for society to categorize me in this way. It’s no use explaining all the ways that this term is only half-true, I am among the Others in this regard and that is all that matters.
My people receive no protections in the Constitution and the Civil Rights Movement overlooked us. And yet, real progress has been made in destigmatizing my people. I feel lucky to have live in a time in history when my natural association is no longer considered a sin. For those who are not so lucky, it is some comfort to believe that, with time, they will enjoy such acceptance.
Yes, I am Left-Handed. It is almost funny to think that something so innocuous could ever be viewed as malicious. Currently estimated at roughly 11% of the overall population, this number may rise when new generations of Lefties are born, but not converted.
The same may also be true of Homosexuality. Countries that criminalize it cite far lower rates of homosexuality than others. Yet as global trends toward acceptance continue, and systematic repression becomes more rare, I predict the prevalence of homosexuality will increase until it reaches a naturally occurring homeostasis. Perhaps one day, it will be viewed on the order of Left-Handedness, as a mere “quirk” rather than something sinister.
Let’s never forget that normalcy is subjective, varying between cultures, morphing with time. Over the years, characteristics that were once taboo often make the slow march toward acceptance. It is difficult to imagine that people who now seem so different may one day be perceived as normal. Yet by comparing today’s outcasts to yesterday’s we can begin to see how very little threat those differences pose.