How ‘gay’ is killing creativity

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A while back I was horrified when one of my female students yelled across the classroom to one of the boys, ‘You should be gay!’ The boy, somewhat taken aback, asked her why.

‘Because you’re into music stuff and choir and all that,’ was her response, and a part of me cried inside for the ignorance and judgmental nature of teenagers.

A big part of my grief was this: that our incessant need to label people and define them by their sexuality is killing creativity in boys. Things that were praised in bygone eras, acting, music, composing and self expression through writing and poetry, have become defining symbol’s of a man’s sexuality. So many talented boys, growing into men, are afraid to express themselves lest their sexuality be called into question.

It is a tragedy for the arts, and a tragedy for humanity.

We’re reading To Kill a Mockingbird in year 11 at the moment, and Scout’s comment is really resonating with me: ‘I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.’

We need to stop defining people by their sexuality, and even more, we need to stop using these labels as a derogatory way to cut people down.

As Australians, we’re not great at celebrating talent, but we need to change that. Let’s start with letting boys be creative, lest we kill the passion of our future Mozarts, Shakespeares and Da Vincis.

No offense… but I’m about to say something really offensive

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Do you get nervous when someone starts their sentence with ‘no offense?’ I do. It’s like the perfect guilt-free segue into something truly offensive.

It was rife when I was a teenager, and I cringe to hear that it’s still around.

No offense, but that jumper looks way better on her.

No offense, but your life is pretty boring

No offense, but it’s not like you’re that smart

Woah, you probably shouldn’t be eating that… but, like, no offense

No offense, but I don’t think he’d go for you. Sorry, just saying…

Well maybe just don’t say. Because your ‘sorry not sorry’ isn’t working for me. Or for anyone for that matter.

So, before you throw out a casual ‘no offense,’ think about what you’re actually saying: “I want to say whatever horrible thing comes into my mind, but before I feel bad about it, I’ll qualify it and erase my guilt. Cos, I mean, it’s not my fault if you got offended when I told you not to!”

 Honey, we all want you to know something: You’re offensive. And your attempts at masking it aren’t working.

You’re an Adult, But Your Inferiority Complex is Making You Rude

rocker-chick_21165512I was reminded today, listening to some of my students talk, about how brutal high school can be. In a country that works hard at maintaining the illusion of being a classless society, high school teaches us the exact opposite.

When you’re at school you learn pretty quickly where you sit in the hierarchy. You learn that there are certain people who you don’t approach to talk to because their status at school puts them in a category far superior to yours. You speak only if spoken to, and even though you may be nice to each other, you’ll never be friends.

We like to think that once we get into the big wide world, everything changes. Teenage popularity is no longer a symbol of success, but what bothers me is how much those growing up years can impact who we are and how we see the world.

I wouldn’t be one who’s quick to say I struggle with inferiority, but the other day I realized that more than ten years after leaving high school, there are still people who I wouldn’t approach with friendliness, because of my ingrained sense of hierarchy.

I realized that far from making me humble and unassuming, it was simply making me rude.

As adults, I think there are many of us who need to erase the pedestals, and learn that inferiority is no excuse for rudeness. If anything, it only turns us into the very people who intimidated us in the first place.