The Quiet Liberals

I grew up in a quiet, happy home.

Average size house with a pool, three dogs, a cat and a maid a few mornings a week. Mom was a teacher, dad a small business owner.

Very middle class, white picket fence stuff.

My dad grew up in Europe, in a different context. Admittedly, a somewhat small town conservative context. But different nonetheless.

My mom grew up during the height of apartheid, daughter of a loudly liberal man who died too young and a fierce, strong woman who raised three teenagers alone at a time when women were Housewives and Homemakers.

Mom was a student studying Politics at Rhodes University in the seventies and a (white, English) teacher in Elsies River in the early eighties. Not a loud activist but determined to make her point.

Our maid, for the record, has three grandchildren and a wayward husband. Everyone from her minister down to our three dogs show her more respect than I have ever experienced.

This is the home I grew up, the people who raised me and taught me the ways of the world.

Quiet liberals.

I grew up believing everyone was equal, not because I was told they were because I was never told they weren’t.

I suppose at some point my curious child mind may have questioned the different shades of skin that surrounded me daily and I suppose I must have been given an answer of some sort. I do vaguely remember being told when I was eight or nine that my new baby cousin was exactly the same amount of family as all the other cousins even though he didn’t have the same peachy skin tone as the rest of us.

And I guess at some point it may have been explained to me that Aunt S loved her girlfriend in the same way that mom loved dad.

I don’t remember.

And that I guess, is the point I’m getting at. It didn’t matter. In my world, it didn’t matter what race or religion or sexual orientation you were because I was never taught to think about it. It was never relevant to how we as a family looked at people.

Conservatives and loud liberals, I find, are often cut from different sides of the same cloth. Whether you are actively trying to promote the differences between our skin colours or who we take to bed at night as good things or bad things, you are still highlighting the differences. You are still making our differences important.

And they’re not. We are all different. What’s important is what binds us as a country and as a people, what makes us the same.

I feel a surge of annoyance when I see another article on a major news site reporting the official announcement of a celebrity’s homosexual identity and the furor that accompanies it on social media sites.

My dear liberals, I know you think that raucously celebrating the coming-out of a celebrity somehow sticks it to the conservatives while at the same time making it very clear that you LOVE the gays but the more fanfare that is created around sexual orientation (or race or religion or whatever else) the longer it remains a ‘thing’.

It isn’t a thing. It just is.

I love our differences too and I do love celebrating them. This isn’t about NOT celebrating or recognising our differences. I just feel like this should be kept for special occasions, like gay pride for example, and not continue to be an everyday discussion.

People around the world are still being bullied and victimized for who they are. And while a scared, spotty gay kid in Iowa may feel the courage to come out when he sees an Us Weekly cover loudly exclaiming “OMG! Neil Patrick Harris confirms he’s GAY” I also think that by creating such a fuss around each individual coming out it continues to be a Thing.

It’s 2012. It’s time to let go of the over-liberal liberal and let things like race and bedmate choice become an organic, natural state.

I’m white, female and heterosexual. These aren’t choices I made. It isn’t a newsworthy or even vaguely fascinating story. I was just born this way.

[I can’t believe you guys made me quote Gaga].

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