Yesterday, I saw an article on Facebook that Tim Cook came out to the public and announced that he is proud to be gay. In response, I rhetorically asked why he would be proud to be a certain sexual orientation. The most common answer from other people were that gay people have been discriminated against, therefore it is brave of someone to come out to the world that s/he is gay. With that logic, that means anyone can be proud of a particular trait if that trait has been discriminated against.
Growing up, I was taught that one should be proud of oneself for the achievements they acquired, so long as those achievements came through honesty and hard work. I was never taught that all I have to be is of Chinese descent, be a certain sexual orientation, have a particular skin tone, nor be a specific nationality to be proud.
In my world view, one can say s/he is proud…
…to have ran the half marathon and completed it.
…to have stood up for him/herself in the face of discrimination, to show others that things can be done when people unite.
…to have worked hard and became a Directing Manager at XYZ company.
…to have cycled across Canada within three months.
…to get top of the class after studying hard and doing all of their homework.
…for overcoming his/her fear of water and learned how to swim.
…to be a Canadian soldier that saw the world and helped many people.
…to have become a doctor and help the sick.
…to have become a scientist that helped find the cure for AIDs.
…to get the courage finally come out to the world that they are gay and give indirect support to others whom are also struggling.
However, I cannot for the life of me understand the logic when people could be proud because…
…they are Chinese.
…they are Japanese.
…they are Pagan.
…they are Christian.
…they are Hindu.
…they are bisexual.
…they are atheist.
…they are gay.
In fact, I have been discriminated for being Chinese. People have told me to go back to my country, even made fun of my slanted eyes and the tone of my skin. I’ve had people of a different culture try to mimic my language, “Ching chong bing bong!”
In many of those scenarios, I stood up for myself. I stood my ground and when others were picked on, I stood with those who were picked on. I could say I was proud to have stood with those whom were picked on, but I could not say I was proud because I am Chinese. Why would I be proud just because I am of Chinese ethnicity? Why would I be proud of a trait that I never acquired, nor achieved? It is a trait that I was either born with or a collective of people that I joined with no effort on my part.
It may take effort and courage to come out publicly and one can be proud of that, but it takes no effort nor courage to be what you are. So don’t say you’re proud to be gay. Say that you are proud to have gained the courage to come out publicly to show support to others whom are also struggling.