Today, the Royal Canadian Mountain Police released an ‘It Gets Better’ video, featuring members of the organization sharing stories of struggle with the ultimate message that it does indeed get better.
I remember vividly when my good friend first told me his story. It was extremely hard to hide the tears once he was finished. I asked him and he has graciously allowed me to share his experience.
He grew up in Georgia.
He’s both Turkish and Muslim.
The society he grew up in wasn’t accepting of who he is.
The day seemed to be like any other for him. He came to school, climbed up the stairs and headed to his locker. As he got closer and closer, he noticed there was something on his locker. He stood there for minutes, just staring at the locker. Fellow students walked by, flashing glances at him. No one stopped. No one said anything to him. Finally, someone did. A teacher walked up to him and asked if he was ok. There was no response. He was in shock, disbelief.
Someone had spray-painted a gay slur across his locker.
He felt alone. Betrayed.
He finally went with the teacher to the councillor’s office, where he was asked if he wanted to call his parents. He begged, pleaded, and cried desperately to keep this incident a secret. He couldn’t let his parents find out. He couldn’t let his parents find out he was gay. He begged the councillor not to call his parents.
“I was completely isolated and alone.”
He felt his sexuality was a burden. That his being gay was a problem and that he wasn’t normal.
When he got home, eyes puffy from crying all day, his mom asked him if everything was ok. He lied. He said he got in an argument with a friend. He didn’t tell his mom the truth. That he was gay. That he was the victim of a hate crime. She gave him a hug to comfort him. He felt secure in her arms, but he knew it was all a lie. A facade because he was too afraid to tell her the truth.
A few months later, she uncovered his secret. She found a few innocent pamphlets that a teacher gave him on how to come out to your parents. He was vacationing in Turkey when he got a call from his mom. She asked him if it was true. If he was really gay. He was terrified to respond, he sat there in silence. She asked him again, “Are you gay?” He finally answered, “Yes.” She told him not to come home and hung up.
“I remember sitting on my grandma’s couch, dropping the phone, wanting to cry so badly. But being unable to. I had finally realized that my parents would not accept me for who I was. The two people you love the most, aren’t there for you, they don’t accept you for who you are. It’s the worst feeling in the world.”
He went into the bathroom and stared at a bottle of painkillers. He thought, what’s the point. In his eyes he had no home to go to, no parents to go to. In his eyes he had no more life, no point to live.
He shook his head. It had to get better. This couldn’t be his future. There had to be a brighter side to all this. He put the bottle back and went home.
Things were difficult for him from then on. High school was never the same. It was a challenge. It sucked. Dealing with his family and friends, was challenging. Things weren’t the same. But he moved on. It was a tough struggle, but he fought through it. Accepting it head on. He decided that he wasn’t going to change who he was because some people didn’t like it. He struggled, but he emerged stronger than ever.
After he graduated high school, he moved to Vancouver to attend university.
He made new friends who accepted him for who he was. He met people who were the same as him. They were all living awesome lives. And he realized IT DOES GET BETTER.
He even found a boyfriend! He shares a connection with him that he’s never felt with anyone else, but has always dreamed about. A bond that he dreamt about when he was crying at night, praying he wasn’t gay. He dreamt of finding someone he could really connect with and share a really strong bond with. That’s the feeling that kept him going. And it’s the feeling that helps fuel his happiness today.
His parents learnt to accept him for who he is and love him more than ever.
I will never be able to understand what he has gone through. I can only offer to help, whenever he needs it. He’s someone I look up to everyday. His continued strength is an inspiration. The strength to keep on going when everything else suggests you should give up. He didn’t give up. And he’s the man he is today because of it. One of the most hardworking and high character individuals I know.
He’s not alone. He’s one of thousands, maybe millions, who have dealt with the same problems. Who have lived their lives in secrecy afraid to reveal the truth. Some can’t handle it. They can’t handle the constant name-calling and hate. The ridicule and discrimination. They don’t believe things will get better.
But it’s our duty as a society, to let it be known, that life does get better. That there’s always someone there. There’s always someone who cares. It’s our duty to create an environment that promotes equality. An environment that d0es not allow discrimination.
Today the RCMP released a video, sharing the idea that ‘It Gets Better’.
In the video, various members of the organization share their experiences in the struggle that many have also go through.
I can’t say that I was particularly surprised to see this. Releasing the video is a testament to the organization they truly are – behind all the headlines that suggest otherwise. It’s a testament to the country and society we live in. The character of our homeland. It’s something we Canadians can be proud of, and should be proud of. That we live in a society that has fostered the mentality of equality for everyone. We need to continue this mentality. To continue promoting and educating the fundamental ideal of equality. We have been champions in equality and need to continue this theme. To spread this around the world, so no one has to be afraid of who they are.
We were one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage, an accomplishment that stands as a shining moment in this country. The issue of same-sex marriage is not an issue in Canada.
However, we’re not perfect. Hatred and discrimination still exist. But the fact that we have leaders and institutions, who stand up in the face of this, is a great sign. Leaders agree, enough is enough. It makes all the difference in creating a peaceful and loving environment everyone can proudly live in.
To the RCMP, I personally wanted to thank you. On behalf of everyone I know that has shared in this struggled, I thank you for your courageous and noble act.
To everyone who has helped advance the ideal off equality in our country and around the world, thank you. You are the reason our country is as great as it is.
The ideals of hate and discrimination will not stand the test of time.