I think, most of us in this world are fighting to be understood. We are walking around everyday, asking, “But, do you get what I am saying? What I mean? What I am?” And this only happens after finally realizing, we are not the simplified stock-characters, we were brought up to believe we are. And it seems, the people we hope understand us the most, are our romantic partners. We apply so much pressure in those relationships, because, it is in these relationships, we often allow ourselves to be the most vulnerable. And yet, it seems, these are the people we hurt the most.
I remember being wildly unhappy in Philadelphia, because I did not feel understood, due in part by all the describing; black, gay, queer, etc…. You know who me being “black” matters to? People who aren’t black. You know who being “gay” matters to? People who aren’t gay. It’s as though, I was constantly presenting myself to and being described by people who thought of me as “other”. Every time I would read a description, I would think, “Why is the first line, Black Artsist? That’s what I am?” Sure, I’m black, some would say it’s obvious, but you mentioning it seems to imply, that is what is most important, when really, what I am offering, is. People who understand you, do not constantly describe you by your “qualifications”, they describe you by who you are.
What’s funny is, I’m not sure most of the men I have dated, have had a real idea of who I am. For one reason or another, I don’t think it’s been what’s at the forefront. I’m not even sure it’s been an important factor. What seems to be most important, to the type of man I have found myself with, is how I make them feel. Which is a bit one sided. Call me old fashioned, but I often take the Kennedy approach, when I say, “My fellow humans, ask not what your romantic partner can do for you, but what you can do for your romantic partner.” I think this struggle is often greater for those of us who have faced, dare I call it, “romantic oppression,” during our lives.
I wonder, who, if anyone I know, gets me. My mother, for sure. My sister, sometimes. My father… only understands what he doesn’t like about me… which is just about everything. But, who in my life undersands me. Who do I understand? When I meet someone and experience that feeling of instant recognition, I make it my goal to try and understand that person, to get them, but I am often met with pretend, so elaborate, it is unaware of itself. The last director I worked with for instance, never stopped for a moment to see me, to see me beyond superficial judgments based in their own insecurity and need for ego pleasing. Here’s what it felt like, “TFW you call Verizon to ask a question too complicated for google and instead of being greeted by a human, you must speak with a computer.” “Did you say I already played with my Phil?” No! I did not. Are you listening?
Many of us feel there is a lot going on in the world right now, because it is affecting us right now, but I think there is always a lot going on. And I think the biggest favor we can do for ourselves and those around us, is to accept that maybe we know nothing about our neighbor. That our assumptions are not fact, just because we feel strongly about them. I recently watched a round-table discussion between commercially successful comedians and I remember one of them saying something to this effect: “I find that audiences respond better to things that are more personal (in comedy), that it’s more universal. You would think it would be the opposite, it’s personal, but people respond to humanity.” Maybe above all, have some humanity?…