The first, a follow-up from two blog posts last week, about the “A Gay Girl in Damascus” blogger who allegedly disappeared. It turns out I was wrong on all counts – Amina Abdallah does not exist, nor was her blog written by somebody whose story is similar to Amina’s. The entire blog was made up and written by Tom MacMaster, a married white guy who decided to take on the role of the oppressed and call it a favor to those who really are. He issued an “apology” for this, one that reads to me more as “I’m sorry you all took me so seriously” than “I’m sorry for what I did.” I’m sorry, too. The blog seems to have been taken down, but on its latest post MacMaster stood by what he did: “I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.” Those who are actually being affected by those issues may disagree.
The other story is about comedian Tracy Morgan’s rant, the one about how gay people should stop whining about something as “insignificant” as bullying, and how he would stab his own son to death if he were gay. Morgan has also apologized, but still the debate follows – should he be allowed to say such things for the sake of comedy? At least one comedian says no.
This all has me thinking about the possibility of setting the truth aside. For each of these men’s actions to be considered justifiable, we would have to suspend reality. To temporarily forget one man’s privilege, as he tries to identify with the oppressed. To temporarily forget that we live in a world where our words have tragic consequences, so that we can all laugh and have a good time.
I don’t think it’s possible for me to set my truth aside. And I’m kind of fed up with the idea that I should try. Why can’t we hold both our truths, and the possibility for change? Why can’t we have a good time, and keep our truths in mind?
Here’s my pledge, as I begin this grad school residency, and offer my work to be judged on somebody else’s terms: I will not set aside my truth. I may set aside the media, and its idea that social responsibility can take a back seat to entertainment. I may set aside my preconceptions about what I can or should write, and how I can or should write it. I may set aside those occasional desires to be or write like someone else, in favor of the acceptance of the fact that I can be nobody but myself.
But I will not set aside my truth. What rings true to me will not be buried beneath popular opinion or proper technique, nor will it be brushed away by potential prestige or the perceived value of entertainment. My truth, that ever present, always living truth, will always be mine. And I will not set it aside.
And now, I’m off to begin my residency. I’ll update about it as soon as I get a chance. Thanks for sticking around!