I’m different. I really don’t remember how old I was when I realized I didn’t look like my parents or sisters. I didn’t understand why the other kids pulled back the corner of their eyes and spouted made-up “Chinese” words. I had long black hair and dark skin. Why were my differences so incredibly entertaining to others? And why do others believe my differences gave them a right to target me or make fun of me? I’m not claiming I had a terrible childhood and was scarred for life because my Caucasian parents adopted an adorable Korean baby girl (believe me, I was freaking adorable).

Yes, I cried when other kids furiously whispered with each other while looking or pointing their fingers in my direction. Yes, other kids picked on me because I was Asian. Eventually, other kids picked on me because I was a huge, huge nerd. I was the Korean girl with long straight black hair, buck teeth, and big fat glasses that I started wearing in first grade (my eyesight is so poor that I am seriously blind as a bat without my glasses). And for a couple of years, I was the Korean girl with disasterously permed hair, super shiny braces, and big fat glasses.

I was different. And I’m also not perfect. Unfortunately, I picked on other kids who were different. One of my classmates had a bladder problem, and another one was overweight. And for a few moments, no one picked on me or pointed out my differences because I was too busy diverting their attention to others who were different. Yes, I am completely horrified at my behavior. I hate what I did. And if I could go back in time, I would shake that little Asian girl and say, “Be friends with them. You’re going to be fine. You are so much better than that.”

I like to think that my differences make me stronger. And I hate seeing others pick on anyone who is different. Why do we try to fit in with each other? Why do we want to look like everyone else? And why do parents tell their kids: Be different. You’re an individual. Be a snowflake. Hello, mixed messages! But then again, I’m probably a mixed message. I’m a Christian who firmly believes in God and trusts Him with my whole entire being. I proudly support the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community and believe couples of the same sex should have the right to marry, have families, and all the other legal stuff not available to them.

Why are others picking on them? Because two men in love with each other are different. Others have touted, “It’s not normal.” Is it normal for two Caucasian parents to adopt an adorable Korean baby? Is it normal for a Korean-American woman to fall in love with a Caucasian man? Is it normal that a young married couple actively chooses not to populate the earth with their obviously beautiful and smart children? What is the definition of normal? And didn’t our parents tell us to be individuals and snowflakes?

Many of my friends are gay. I’m also 100% positive that some gay people are absolutely better human beings than me (which probably isn’t saying too much since I set the bar pretty low). During a game of Words with Friends with one of my gay friends, I apologized over and over and over and over for spelling the word “queer.” I didn’t want to spell the word, but the triple word tile was completely open (hello, 72 points!). Do I want to offend my gay friend? Of course not. Did I want to beat her in a word game? Absolutely. In the end, my friend thought I was hilarious for feeling bad for spelling the word.

I honestly don’t understand why two men — or two women — cannot get married in some states. Others have argued gay relationships ruin the sanctity of traditional marriage. Um, straight people ruin the sanctity of traditional marriage! Critics oppose two men getting married but completely support a woman marrying her fifth husband after four divorces? Or a woman who marries a man for his huge bank account? Or a woman who marries a man she doesn’t love because being in a loveless marriage beats being alone? I could continue to list many, many, many, many celebrities who ruin the sanctity of traditional marriage but I won’t because that’s not my point.

My point is: we’re all different and not perfect. We all make mistakes. I believe our differences help us learn more and make us stronger. After somewhat following two recent headline stories, I decided to make my stand. While I really didn’t care for the owner of Chick-Fil-A stating he’s against gay marriage, he was merely telling the world his beliefs. Fine. I don’t have a problem with that. However, if the owner prohibited the gay community from dining at any of his establishments, then I would have a problem with that. Although many people took offense to his announcement, that’s all it was: his opinion.

What I have problem with is the Boy Scouts of America continuing to exclude gays. I applaud and admire Eagle Scouts who are handing back their badge and penning thoughtful and intelligent letters to explain their actions. Just do a google search, and I’m sure you’ll find some letters that beautifully explain what the Boy Scouts meant to former scouts and how they feel about the organization’s decision. The continued stance just saddens me because I feel the organization is saying: “You’re not allowed because you’re different.”

Being different is not bad. When I was younger, I thought the ridicule would stop if I tried to be like everyone else. Maybe no one would notice me if I blended in with everyone else. No attention was much better than being ridiculed and teased. Now, I embrace my differences and flaws. I am not perfect. I love who I am and who I have become. And I thank God for giving me two parents who wanted a little Asian girl (Becky will dispute that Mom and Dad had no preference for boy or girl). And I am so incredibly proud to be their daughter.

I could add so much more to this post, but I won’t because I don’t want to ramble and go off on tangents. The post is long enough, and I tried to keep everything simple and direct. Maybe I’ll take another stand in another post and dive deeper and become more confusing. But for now, I’ll leave you with some wise words: Love one another. Love all sinners. No one is perfect. Not even me.

Categories: Jennifer Elliott

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