By Austin Gadson
The perfectly thick, golden Brilla noodles, the richness of the cherry red sauce that is not too thin but just right, combined with the tenderness of carefully chopped ground beef sat before me on the dinner table one night. It’s riveting how different cultures take the plain concept of Spaghetti and use their own interpretations to create what some would call, art: Korean culture substitutes the meat for peppers, and Greek culture takes away the sauce to add diced tomatoes. Whether it’s vegetarian, gluten-free, or simply sold in a can, the dish takes many forms based on the location and the viewpoints of people from that area. Likewise, in places such as New York, where being LGBTQ is more celebrated, LGBTQ members are able to express themselves in various ways without being judged.
That night after dinner, I remember lying on my brother’s bed as a preteen, comparing myself to him: we lived in the same household, raised by the same mother, we even ate the same foods, and yet I felt utterly different from him. He played sports while I acted in school musicals. He hung out with all guys, while I hung out with all girls. He liked girls, while I liked guys. How could this one thing make me feel so subhuman? As if this one ingredient defined me as a person. I’d soon realize that that’s how reality might seem to be among our society, although I knew deep down this one part of me didn’t make me less of a human being.
The moment I realized my sexuality I was only four years young, and it was when I laid eyes on Uncle Jesse from the reruns of Full House. I can’t remember if it was his perfect smile or his charming character that attracted me, all I knew at the time was that this was more than just mere admiration for another guy. At that age I assumed these emotions I had for the same sex was completely normal. Never once did I question it, until I realized what I was feeling was rarely portrayed on tv or anywhere for that matter. I believe the first time my older brother began to question my sexuality was when I devoted a third grade project to Barbra Streisand. I used to steal my mother’s wig and pretend to be Beyonce (Destiny’s Child Beyonce, not solo career Beyonce). Of course, there would be the common derogatory comments thrown my way from him, but at least he quickly began to open his eyes and see that I was just a happy young boy who was able to express himself as he desired. It was my idol, my mom, who would always enable me to express my personality from a young age; yet would also educate and prepare me for the world to come. “Nothing’s all black, but then nothing’s all white,” she would often recite from the musical Into The Woods, when I would ask why isn’t everything fair. I was fortunate enough to complete my years of public schooling with little to no adversities. I wish I could say the same in regards to a few of my friends that got the lower end of the stick.
As I grew over the years and learned to think for myself, it didn’t take much time for me to comprehend my mother’s words of wisdom. I would soon see with my own eyes the struggles that LGBT members would commonly have to persist through, whether it be through the media or personal experiences. It’s riveting how the LGBT community has to pull teeth in order to acquire standard human rights such as marriage equality and adoption laws, to name a couple, in the twenty-first century. It’s appalling how our society seems to take a step forward in the right direction, and three leaps back in the wrong direction: restricting which restrooms that could be used by transgender people. It appears as though people among the LGBT community are ranked lower than people who identify as heterosexual as if this one aspect justifies the imbalance of equality. Despite the challenges that the community faces, the bond that is made while overcoming these issues only make the community stronger.
Personally, LGBT embodies the ideology of freedom as I’m happy to know that I’m able to be myself. Accepting my sexuality allows me to go through life with confidence as I’m more than content to embrace it. Unfortunately, we live in a society today where many people aren’t as accepting of themselves.
One of my favorite teachers, who I’ve grown to cherish over the years still comes to mind from time to time. Her long blond hair, her GQ worthy outfits, and her talent to mention her shopping addiction every other class period won me over. Mrs. Grecco was living proof that Barbie dolls existed. I remember when I used to ponder about how attractive her husband must’ve been; I pictured him to look similar to G.I. Joe. I now laugh at how silly my presumptions were back in middle school. It wasn’t until a student from my class brought in a can of spaghetti for a food drive when Mrs. Grecco began to share that spaghetti was her wife’s specialty. I remember it took a little while for it to process in my head, but this only made me love her even more. She was the first person who I could relate to in an LGBT sense. I do take the blame for stereotyping, even if I was young. It just goes to show that being LGBT comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes.
After years of pondering, I look upon my experiences, the people I’ve met, and the cold reality of it all. To few it may seem that treating members of the LGBT community anything less than a human being is justified, with marriage laws not being equal to the cruel remarks said to in front of our faces, I’ve seen enough. Being LGBT will never be able to define a person, that’s because it’s only one ingredient that makes us a unique dish. Still today, Spaghetti isn’t my favorite dish, it’s just more than okay. But I’ve now grown out of my once close-minded, ignorant ways and learned to accept that different forms of spaghetti are still spaghetti. Although I still enjoy the simple golden Brilla noodles, ground beef, with Ragu traditional sauce, I attempt to embody our society as I come to terms and accept other interpretations of spaghetti. This is what my mom would like to hear, and frankly, that’s what I would like to see in the world.