South of Nowhere

  • May. 3rd, 2009 at 4:00 PM
lu: (Republican)
I've spent the last three days at my grandmother's house in a really small town called Ituverava. When I was a kid, I used to stay here for a couple of weeks during summer vacations, and enjoyed it very much. Despite the fact that I always had knack for staying home on a sunny day, spending a few weeks at Ituverava, diving in the pool, climbing trees, renting movies, playing video games, and reading under a shade always managed to cheer me up.

However, when one grows up one realises the several problems that are usually attached to the quiet life of the countryside. Two years ago, when I stayed here for three weeks straight, I realised the depth of the homophobia, the racism, and the narrow mentality that infests most of the people who were born and raised in small towns. I'm definitely not saying they're all like that. Unfortunately I found out my grandmother is very much the stereotype.

Two situations specifically annoyed me this time.

In the first one, we were in the car and she asked me what was my boyfriend's name. I said I didn't have a boyfriend. Then—on an unexpected twist—she asked me what was my girlfriend's name. I figured I could right then and there make someone up just to come out of the closet and be done with that. But I chickened out. Not only I don't have a girlfriend at the moment; I really didn't want to hurt my grandparents. And having a gay granddaughter, for them, actually seems like the end of the world. So I said I didn't have a girlfriend. She then said that it was absurd for a twenty year old girl not be in a relationship. I refrained from commenting.

Later that night we were watching television and there was a story about a lesbian couple that was adopting twins. My grandmother loudly disapproved. A few minutes later she asked me how many boyfriends I previously had, and whether they were handsome. I pointedly said I wasn't going to comment on the subject and asked her to drop it. She wasn't happy. She proceeded to go on and on about my cousin's ex-girlfriend, whom she considered to be the perfect daughter-in-law since she could cook, bake, and sew. Needless to say left the table as soon as etiquette allowed me.

Now, I know I'm a spoiled brat, that I was raised by the most comprehensive, caring, open-minded parents in the World, and consequentially suffered very little prejudice from my own family. Even my maternal grandparents have always approved of my girlfriends, asked after them, invited them to all the parties, and made them feel welcome. I know that's not what usually happens, and I know there are queer people out there who have to endure so much more than I do.

But I still think I have every right to complain. We cannot accept this sort of behavior from the very people who are supposed to love us for who we are. Being prejudiced against by your own family is so oppressing that even I, who have been out and about since I was fourteen, can't find it in me to tell them the truth, or to stand up for what I believe in. The last time I felt like this I had a nervous breakdown. This time, I've spent only three days here and am already going crazy. One thing is for sure, though: I'm not coming here again without my father and my stepmother to back me up. I just can't do it alone.

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You like bowling, don't you, Montag?

If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. If the government is inefficient, topheavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel like they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.

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