Saturday, October 29, 2011

Seed of truth

I have a story to tell you, a serious one (Sorry. I promise to be silly tomorrow.) Let's say that I heard (from a reliable source) about a person from Former Yugoslavia seeking asylum here based on abuse he or she suffered there for being gay. As I heard details about this story, I believed every bit of it, and I knew it was true. I understood.
This person hasn't had any contact with his/her family for years since they couldn't accept him/her being gay. And he/she just couldn't pretend his/her whole life to be someone else.
Hearing this story, the details I unfortunately am not allowed to describe, a movie was suddenly rolling in my head. I was able to picture every bit of it very vividly. And I kept thinking, would something similar happen to me if I were gay? And I was thinking about what would I do if I were him/her, growing up in Former Yugoslavia, knowing I'm different than most of my peers, and different in a way my society wouldn't accept. Not even today, let alone in the 90s, or before.
Would I fight it or would I cave. Would I escape?
I hope I would fight. I think I would escape. I don't know. It's just so hard, even hypothetically.
Let just say this person said something along the lines: "I knew there was no life for me there. I'm happy here, I have a wonderful partner I want to spend the rest of my life with..." But he/she misses his/her family. Why does it have to be one or the other?
This story is one of the reason I write about Serbo-Croatian characters and events. They fascinate me! Their beliefs, and superstitions, and traditions, all of it. They fascinate me, because, even if I grew up there, I don't understand them. I never did. I think I always felt a little out of place there, even when I was little.
I will never understand how a person can disown his/her child for being what he/she is, for being the only person he/she could be, for not being a fraud or a liar. That's why I write about these kinds of  people. What makes them have such strong beliefs, ancient beliefs and never question them, for decades. What makes them make the same mistakes, generations after generations.
I guess that's a journalist in the fiction writer in me. Every story I write has to have a seed of truth in it. Otherwise, I don't think it's worth telling.

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