I didn’t use a urinal as a kid because I thought that I had to protect the world, or at least men, from me. “These urinal things, this convenience of being able to stand and pee and walk off in like 60 seconds must be a luxury of the straight. Us gay people are suppose to lock ourselves behind walls to pee, right? That’s how our sexual deviation can be contained and not be danger to society. That’s how how we make straight people comfortable around us, right? It’s our responsibility to make the world more comfortable, to make the world more like the world believes it should be.”
What a thought for a twelve year-old to bear. A perfectly-normal, biologically-healthy, divinely-created, lovely, twelve year-old.
“You are different and defective. You are outside what the world was made for. You must remember your difference and do everything to avoid causing trouble to the normal people. Change your mold to fit the one the world hands you. When that doesn’t work, hide yourself behind walls. Present only what is clean and shiny and palatable.”
So at 12 years old, when I didn’t even know what sex was and honestly that this thing we use to pee was part of it, I instinctively knew to lock myself inside plastic walls when I peed. I knew that my sexuality had something to do with the things we do in bathroom because guys are separated from gals and so that must mean us gay people should have our own bathroom too.
I suppose this is how people of color in a white society feel, how women feel, how immigrants feel, how those who are not cis-gender feel, how those who are not of the male or female gender feel, how the disabled feel, how the poor feel, how the uneducated feel.
We degrade them. We find ways to convince them that they are lesser so that we can assert our power over them. Power that has nothing to do with who we actually are. It has nothing to do with the composition of one gender or another, one skin color or another. But instead power has to do with the way human history and greed and pride have moved on this one toss through the sands of time. That’s all it is.
But still us in power convince those who are marginalized that they must go on always bowing to us. That the comfort of we, the dominant group in society, is pinnacle. That their wants are ranked below the wants of ours. That their experiences possess less value.
I know now that that’s a bunch of bullshit.
I believe that at its core humanity demands equality. Our inherent human dignity requires that we all have equal ground to stand on —both physically and emotionally and spiritually and in every other way. A break from that strips each of us of the underbreath of what it means to be human. Breaking from that means we don’t see each other as we are. We don’t even see ourselves as we are.
Our needs are not diminished because they are in the minority. Our needs are not worth any less because they are new and the dominant group is not used to them yet. Majority does not outvote minority. Tradition does not outvote decency.
We each deserve to be listened to and acted for, equally. That’s the one demand of human dignity.
I stopped peeing in a stall, not when I learned to claim my worth and my fullness and my wholeness, as I wish I could tell, but instead when I began to travel.
I was shoulder to shoulder with four guys in a tiny car driving across rural Argentina. When one of us had to pee, we all peed. We stopped the car, found some bushes or a field or whatever and did our part to water the weeds.
I didn’t have a stall to lock myself within. I just had to stand next to the guys just like the rest of the guys.
Brilliant how nothing ever happened. How I could pee in the bushes like everyone else. Honestly what did I expect to happen? That my gayness would somehow stir around in the air and infect the straight people? That my gayness would somehow turn me into a sexual predator? I was not a sexual predator. I was myself. I was a 19 year old boy.
Maybe I felt this way because as a society, we know we have so much failed to teach men to value women. That if this focus traditionally towards women is turned back round to men, is now turned from man to man, the men today know they would not have the means to treat other men with respect, with their full human dignity. Maybe in our core we know how badly we have failed.
Travel has been my greatest of teachers in my so far 24 laps around the sun. Travel shakes up my world. It forces me to see things differently, to see things as new. It teaches me my own limits. It shows me that there are other ways to eat meals and do work and build houses and go to schools and to live a life.
Peeing on those roadsides and then using a urinal upon returning to the US was one step in me accepting me as normal, as whole, and as safe to myself and to others, just as much as everyone else.
It was one step in reforming my beliefs about myself. It was one small, but mighty revolution.