The Normal State of Being

When i was in school i was bullied tremendously; i was called gay, fag and all other sorts of names that i was too young to understand. I didn’t even used to understand what the whole gay thing was supposed to mean, but i knew that by the tone that it was being pronounced and the reactions it caused on others that it couldn’t be a good thing. There it was, the beginning of the problem, and i couldn’t even understand what the problem was , i didn’t even know what that fuss was all about. Well; back then i had absolutely no idea what i liked: boys, girls or even myself. I was told that the normal thing to do was to like a girl. I didn’t know there was the option to like a boy, i was a kid trying to get through school and play with my friends. When i finally realized what all of that meant i got really angry, after all, how could they know something about me that even i didn’t know about? And i truly didn’t, and i struggled with that for years, until i grew out of it and learned to dodge the attacks and turn them back against the attackers in a very fierce yet polite manner. But what i took from that first encounter with the gay world was that it was absurdly abnormal and wrong to be gay, and for many years that was the most solemn truth and being gay was absolutely unacceptable and a disease, but being straight and bullying whoever was different was the normal thing to do.

It was also around the times of those first encounters that i first knew of a disease that was so powerful that i couldn’t even share a glass of water with an infected person. Or so they said. It was extremely frightening to be a little boy and not even be able to come near another human being for fear of dying. I remember not being able to understand that, not being able to understand how it was possible for anyone to die from being near another person? It was an extremely sad time and i hadn’t thought too much of it until this year, and i hadn’t even gone back to that feeling until tonight, after seeing the masterpiece by Larry Kramer, “The Normal Heart”, that will say its goodbye to Broadway this July 10th.

This year of 2011 has been of profound investigation, about myself, about the world that surrounds me and about how some of our actions have irreversible consequences. I have met people and lived situations that never before had i even considered possible and all of those little things were really hard to digest and even understand, they made me once again feel like that little boy facing the unknown. And these “things” came from all sides too, so, it is only normal that i had to go see this play. Earlier this year i read a surprising article on New York Magazine and wrote about it in this blog, i was baffled by the lack of space, time and attention the world was giving to the first man to ever be cured of HIV. Not Aids, HIV. These are two different things;  and this too was also a new realization for me; i had never given this evil disease a minute of my day to properly read about it, i mean, why should I? My life was so beautiful and fabulous on the outside, who needs to know about such things when they are so distant from us? Well, they are not distant, and what was true decades ago, continues to be very true today, and even with all the technological and medical advances on improving the quality of life for HIV patients, people continue to get infected and to die daily. We still have no cure, and no one seems to be giving the time of day to the one man who lives among us with a possible key to the cure of this malign disease.

Ellen Barkin did it perfectly, she showed us with every shade of emotion what it is to be in the front line of this war, and how frustrating and nerve-racking it is to be screaming for help and still not be heard. Ellen Barkin was so perfect in her role that she made me cry copiously every time she appeared on stage; her passion and her emotions were not an act, they were real and very much alive. The entire cast was tremendous and absolutely impeccable, but Elle Barkin, oh, she made us all want to get up and throw some paper on some politicians faces, just like her character did, she made us all want to stand up for human rights, yes, human rights, the most basic ones, not just gay rights, or women’s rights, but basic human rights. What was done to all those people in the early eighties was one of the most unfair things ever done by men to its own kind, and that brutality was very alive on that stage, and every visceral performance was like a punch in my soul and it shook me up and made me once again wake up and pay attention and spread the word even further.

Today, with internet, twitter, Facebook, television, newspapers, magazines and even still the radio, it’s hard to believe that there are so many people getting sick, and that alone is to me the most saddening part. We are all very much aware, this disease has been a shadow over our lives for the past three decades, it is literally like a huge grey cloud above our heads, at least a couple of entire generations grew up with it in their vocabularies, and still, to this day, there are people who insist on pretending the cloud is not there. Well, guess what? Every now and then it rains from this cloud, and it doesn’t just drizzle, it pours, and every time it pours it’s another family that is shattered, another relationship that is broken and another life that is taken. It’s past the time to take action, it’s time to be responsible, each and every one of us all need to be responsible, because action is being taken, daily, but it doesn’t seem to be enough, so let’s do it like Larry Kramer said, lets start teaching it in schools, lets teach it at home, lets show our kids all the colors of the rainbow, let’s tell them what it means to love others like we should also love ourselves, lets teach our kids the gift of acceptance and awareness and let’s teach them about what it is like to be a proper human being, so that maybe then one day there won’t have to be talks about what is the normal heart.

See clips of The Normal Heart below:

You Tube Channel HERE

Author: Gabriel Ruas Santos Rocha

writes for passion, eats for pleasure, travels for wonder.

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