On the LGBT conundrum

Like pretty much everyone else in Norway, and apparently, the rest of the world, I have been sucked into the world of Shame – that is SKAM, the Norwegian drama series for teens that broke into the scene last fall and caused everyone within their demographic reach and beyond to utterly lose their minds. This post will obviously contain spoilers, so do not proceed if you haven’t seen the end of season 3.

I’ll be frank, to begin with I went from being clueless as to what this was, to being mildly annoyed at the hype, and then finally, a couple of eps into season two, this spring, I caved and binge-watched the episodes during one weekend where I was supposed to revise for exams. At first, I was skeptical, but I quickly found myself oddly compelled by the characters, despite the fact that the first season in particular deals with a lot of typical teenage things that I have never associated with neither as a teen nor as an adult. But the way that the series itself has been created; the way it realistically portrays these kids, and in particular, how different it is from the glossy American drama series that we are served on TV, focusing on rich teens who experience anything from arson to murders and all kinds of drama. SKAM is a lot more down to earth, even if it is situated around Norwegian teens from more well-off families, who seemingly only care about parties and Russefeiring. Regardless, it is real, it is intimate, and it ensnares and allures its audience by giving small drips of action throughout the weeks, as we are treated to several short clips that are compiled into a long episode on Friday night, but also real-time text messages, instagram and facebook updates by the characters themselves. It’s quite ingenious, and helps make the series extremely addictive – especially for anyone who’s looking for a good reason to procrastinate when they should be studying (Norway basically stopped functioning for the entirety of the period where William wasn’t answering Noora’s texts this spring).
Season two however, was the one that really convinced me that people were right concerning this show. The previous season dealt with more “typical” issues, like teenage angst and drama, and a pregnancy scare, but season two delves into sexual assault, and offers a very natural way to deal with the issue. SKAM doesn’t point fingers, but functions as a kind of older sister, or friend, giving advice and information in a way that is easily understood and remembered, and which was applauded by audiences as well as the Norwegian police.

With that said, despite that long-ass opening paragraph, this is not a blog post about SKAM. Or, yes it is, but not really.
Season 3 is what caused the massive rush of international viewers, and made the series rise to international fame and popularity, as we follow 17 year old Isak, who may or may not be homosexual. This season is massively important, but also ambiguous. I will get to this.
It’s been hinted at earlier in the series that Isak might be gay or bisexual, but the season doesn’t limit itself to the question of sexuality. Rather, it shows the context of the question. This season deals more specifically with the idea of identity, and being true to oneself. We are given small glimpses into feelings of displacement, uncertainty and despair, not all of which are connected to sexuality, but also to mental illness, divorce, religion and expectations from society and peers. It’s all interwoven together in a way that becomes very natural in the sense that the creators of the series aren’t attempting to over-explain or solve all the problems, but rather allow them to be presented, some of them to be explored more than others, and some of them to remain unresolved, but perhaps less pressing, very much like how we pick our battles and find our coping strategies in the real world.

The ambiguity then, lies in what I refer to as ‘the LGBT Conundrum’, and so, this post is sparked by a quick rant I wrote on Facebook somewhere mid-season, as I had just finished watching a particularly  jarring episode.
It is well known by anyone who has dedicated some time to watching and reading LGBT fiction, that in addition to non-heterosexual relationships being way underrepresented, there is also a distinct lack of not only happy, but also realistic stories of same-sex love. A typical trope is the tragic love story: often ending in death. Another trope is the ‘coming out of the closet’ or ‘will they or won’t they’. Here, the story typically focuses on a set of characters who seemingly are into each other, but struggle to convey it – in itself, not unrealistic, but the problem is that these stories (particularly in my field; BL), often end once the couple share their first kiss (or,  if we’re “lucky”, a night together). It seems that this type of representation presents the idea that once the hurdle of confession or outing is passed, that’s the end of all problems. Rarely do we get to see what comes next; the every day lives, the spats, the forehead kisses, the expired milk, the holidays.
There’s also the fetishization of female love in particular, where the relationship between two women seem to be more focused on the sex, than their relation, and very often seen from the male perspective. Increasingly, this type of fetishization is also becoming more visible in terms of objectifying male couples, not only in otakudom (BL has to take some blame for this I fear), but also in more mainstream circles, such as presented in the final episode of season 3, where a group of girls explicitly point out that they think it’s “cool” that Isak and Even are a couple, because “two boys are so cute together”.

LGBT characters are rarely cast as protagonists, and unless they are on their way out of the closet, they are often pushed aside, neutralized, or used for comic relief. In one episode of the series Queer as Folk, the flamboyant Emmett is informed by his friend that the reason he has been given a job as part of a newscast team, is because he is the type of ‘fun’ and effeminate gay man that makes him ‘acceptable’, because there is nothing sexual about him. We have a tendency of accepting the stereotypical gay man as a form of accessory; the BFF, the comic relief, the non-sexual character. The fetishization of the gay man is also very much present in this type of representation, as many seem to see him more as an accessory for a straight woman, than as an individual person/character. Making the gay man into a side-kick with a limp wrist and passion for shopping neutralizes the inherited perception of obscenity, and allow the audience to feel less threatened.
This is a representation that is as harmful as it is true; because let’s face it, gay people come in all shapes and sizes. Some are effeminate, others are masculine, some are monogamous, some aren’t, some are asexual, some are poly amorous, some raise families, some don’t, some have a straight, female bestie, others don’t. The damage comes in the form of the over representation of this type of character, which creates a stereotype that not everyone can associate themselves with, and in some cases creates a form of inherent homophobia – as presented in the masterfully performed scene between Isak and Eskild, where Isak is trying to explain that he’s not “that kind” of homosexual, while Eskild, clearly hurt by his words, is precisely “that kind”.

But I digress, the main focus here is that most of these tropes tend to be on the depressing side – I should know, the way all my writings concern boys who struggle, die and are subjected to scrutiny, bullying and self-inflicted suffering.
One reason why I think that this is such a common trope is because obviously, being young is never easy, and being different is always hard. In a world that is so very focused on heteronormativity , and consequently presenting LGBTQIA as some obscure ‘otherness’, it will be a struggle for a large portion of anyone not fitting into the mainstream mold. Homophobia, bullying, sexual assault, mental illness, discrimination and alienation are all factors that are all too common in the lives of LGBT youth and adults, so it’s only natural that these things become central in television and other fictional representations, where the main focus generally is on dramatic events and effects.
In the event that a story is “too happy”, it can be criticized for being unrealistic. The reason I started writing and publishing BL, aside from obviously loving the genre too much for words, was that I felt BL was all too black and white; often lacking in realism or overflowing with inherent and internalized homophobia, but finding a balance is difficult.
There is no such thing as a problem-free life, especially when existing within a society that is obsessed with an illusion of normalcy, so portraying someone’s life as rose-red will immediately be considered unrealistic.
Nobody lives a perfect life where they always get what they want, where they never get sucked into conflicts, or suffer heartbreak, or where nobody dislikes them, where they don’t lose anyone or where they have to see their dream job go off to someone else. But sometimes, that’s what we want to see. Sometimes we need to see that there are good things; that people fall in love, or that the dog survives, you know?

The conundrum therefore presented itself in season 3 of SKAM, by rearing its ugly head just as we thought that perhaps the main couple wouldn’t have to suffer any kind of conflict. Isak was conflicted enough, with his own identity, and how to break it to his parents, who are recently divorced and with a mother who seems not only zealously religious, but also struggling with mental illness.
When the conflict then bares its teeth, complicating Isak and Even’s relationship further by revealing Even’s own struggles as a person suffering from bipolar disorder, a lot of us got very worried. For several reasons.
As someone dealing with mental illness myself, I both worried about how this would be portrayed and dealt with in a season that has far fewer minutes a week than its predecessors, in addition to already having the issue of identity and coming out to deal with – as well as a huge disappointment that this had to happen now. I felt unnerved by the prospect of yet another tragic story where the creators felt the need to complicate something that is already difficult, by presenting another seemingly uncrossable obstacle. Silently, I was grumbling why can’t they be happy?!


I was also concerned because while I was glad to see them touching upon mental illness, which is something more and more people are becoming familiar with either through their own struggles, or through family, friends or loved ones struggling, I didn’t feel like this was something that necessarily would be given enough time or respect in this season. It felt overcrowded, and it was beginning to feel trope-ish.

The last few episodes of the season were touch and go for me, as I was terrified of which way they would take this story. On one hand, you just want Isak and Even to be happy, on the other, you want the show to be realistic; you want to see the creators respect the fact that bipolar disorder doesn’t magically go away, that even when you swear to be there for someone, it’s not always that easy in the longer run, and that struggling with your own identity and your relation to your parents isn’t necessarily something that can be conquered only once – but rather can be an ongoing battle. We didn’t want a quick-fix, but I don’t think anyone wanted to see the two of them part ways and be sad either. It’s a very difficult balance to maintain.

However, at the end, now having watched the final episode only moments ago (and then not posting this until two days later), I feel satisfied with how NRK’s production company chose to handle it.
When I wrote Jaded, I purposely left an open ending, some loose threads on purpose, because the boys and their relations to themselves and others were far too complex to be realistically tied up. I don’t allow Aki and Yuuki to define their relationship, because I can’t define it (yet). I can’t decide for them what their future is. And Isak tells Eva that he doesn’t know whether Even is The One, to the dismay of many romantics out there, and perhaps unnerving to those who really just want them to be together and happy. It might feel as a blow to their newly established relationship, that he is seemingly expressing doubt already, a way for him to brace himself for an impact that might very well come – but also a way to stay level-headed in a volatile situation and in a relationship that is ultimately, very new.
In a youth culture where the weighty words “I love you” (Norwegian; “Jeg elsker deg” which is the highest declaration of love, as compared to “Glad I deg” – which is also translated to ‘I love you’ but really means more like ‘I care for you’)  are said mere weeks or even days into the relationship, it’s an opposition, but also a more reflected and mature take on the difficulty that is human relation.
Ultimately, I would like to take my hat off for Julie Andem and the creators of SKAM, for yet another realistic and emotional rollercoaster-ride.  Through season 3, we have seen examples of self-doubt and uncertainty, wrestled with identities related to, but not confined by sexual orientation or status of mental health, and we’ve seen that even though it’s easier than before to be LGBT in Norway, it is still hard; sometimes on a personal level, sometimes due to external reasons. We’ve seen that ignorance often comes from curiosity, and that questions that often are interpreted as offensive, might actually be meant well but worded wrong, and yet again I find myself mentally apologizing to characters who prove me wrong as my judgementality is confronted (I’m sorry Magnus).

This isn’t a blog post about SKAM, but it is a post where SKAM shows us the ambiguity and difficulty of portraying subjective reality while at the same time making it relateable, and where the tropes are seen as more than tropes, but seemingly appear at their most basic level; where they come from, but without being allowed to define the season. The relatively open, yet content ending shows us that ultimately, we have been following two individuals who just happen to have fallen in love, despite the circumstances and context surrounding them, and creating ripples that aren’t necessarily positive, but reaffirm that nothing is one-dimensional. Hopefully, we will see more portrayals like these in the future, and the portrayal of same sex relations will be less tropey and more realistic and diverse.

(I’m lazy, so I haven’t proofread this text since writing it, sorry for any sloppy mistakes. Also, SKAM has been sold to the US, so watch the original version while you can.)

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18.02-2014

Tonight, I’ve lit a candle.
This candle is in remembrance of a person I have never known, but whose name has been marked in my calendar for this particular day for months.
His name is Odd Kåre Rabben, and he was one of the first to publicly come out as HIV-positive in Norway. He is one of the many who had to endure the stigma that came with this awful disease, which he contracted as a result of infected blood, on account of his hemophilia.
He was diagnosed in 1985. In 1990, he came forth with his diagnosis.
On the 6th of February 1992, he was invited to meet with the King and Queen, during an audience at the Royal Residence. He died on this day in 1993, 21 years ago, before turning seventeen.

I don’t know much else about him. I don’t know which hardships he had to endure. I don’t know much about his short life. I know that he was part of the jury picking out the Norwegian segment for the 1992 ESC, and that he recorded a cassette before he died. He also established a foundation for the purpose of HIV-research at the National Hospital.
I know so little about this person, this young man and the hardships he must’ve endured on account of this disease that has taken so many lives, but I know that he was immensely important for the development we’ve had up until today and which is still ongoing.

Because of this, the name of this stranger has been written in my calendar for months, and I would like to express my gratitude for this young man and his bravery.

Though I have so little knowledge about him, I will never forget him.

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Takk, Odd Kåre.

Odd Kåre Rabben’s mom, Vigdis has written a book about her son’s life and battle against the disease, published by Lunde Forlag under the title “Ei hånd å holde i”. It’s on my list of upcoming reads.

World Aids Day

On December 1st 1988, the first World Aids Day took place.
It’s been commemorated annually for 25 years.
Since the first outbreaks in 1981 over 25 million people have lost their lives due to Aids. Currently, there are about 33.4 million people living with the disease.
During the Aids epidemic in the 1980s and 90s, panic reigned due to lack of understanding and knowledge on what caused the virus, how it spread. It was synonymous with death. And for the majority, it was synonymous with gay sex. They called it “the gay plague” among other things. Newspapers wrote about the cancer killing gay people, some breaking the objective view and proclaiming it a punishment for the immoral lifestyle.

Today, we know better. Today we know that it can’t spread through kissing, touching or hugging. We know that anyone can get infected – not just gay people. We know better.
But we owe to the lives lost to commemorate the day. And we owe it to the people living with the virus.
We also owe it to all of these people, and to ourselves and our loved ones to be careful and take responsibility.
Safe sex is hot sex. Alright? It doesn’t matter which orientation you have – you’re not immune! Please take care of yourself.

I hope that many of you will commemorate World Aids Day tomorrow. Light a candle for the lives lost.
Or, if you live in Trondheim, why not attend the Light mass? I most likely can’t attend myself, although I really wanted to. But I’m celebrating my dad’s birthday tomorrow, so I probably can’t make it.

Because I’m starting the first installment of the Advent Calendar tomorrow, this year’s Aids Awareness drabble will be posted today.
Stay safe guys. ♡

 

Aids Awareness Drabble 2013:
Waiting.

It’s the first of December, one icy, blustery morning. The calendar on the sterile, white waiting room wall hasn’t been flipped, but reads November 30th, 1988 – Wednesday.
It irks one of the two men sitting on the hard, wooden chairs immensely. He wants to stand up and rip the leaf off, or flip the calendar to the right page, but he doesn’t budge. Getting up would mean letting go of the hand clutching his with such force. They’re the only couple in the room. The other patients are all by themselves, all men, seated with at least a couple of chairs between themselves. Nobody’s looking at one another, nobody’s exchanging glances. The atmosphere is tense and heavy.
He looks at the message board across the hall, at the information posters pinned up on it, full of advice and telephone numbers for support groups and circles. Apparently there’s a commemoration tonight. He doesn’t other reading on.

They’re lucky to be there together. He knows that. They’re lucky to have one another. Most go through the fear and shame alone.
He glances over at his lover, squeezing his hand gently, attempting a smile, which twists into a grimace instead. The other man didn’t really want to come here. Didn’t want to know.
He said he’d rather not know if he had it. It. Is there a worse word?
There are so many words for it, so many names. All of them sickening, unfamiliar and frightening, some of them hostile.
The dread is worse than the disease, he says. The disease is synonymous with death. Knowledge to him seems like a fate worse than dying.
But then they lost a dear friend. It came all too quickly, and yet it was so slow. This friend, the same friend who introduced them to one another, begged them to get tested.
“It’s worse not knowing.” He’d said.

So here they are. And the weight of their former lifestyle, their former lovers is heavy on their shoulders. Neither of them are very old, barely in their thirties, but it feels like it’s been a million years since it felt safe to be near another person, to hug, kiss or dance with someone. The spots where they used to go to dance, flirt and hook up are deserted. The news are hanging them out as perverse, murderous freaks.
Between them, the number of lovers is high. They could be lucky, but it’s likely they won’t be. Not both of them.
His palms are sweaty, gut swiveling with nausea. His lover’s face is ashen, his dark eyes keeping a close eye on the clock on the wall above the reception.
The grip on his hand tightens. The other man is shaking slightly. He is too.

A door opens, and a man comes out from the room where they perform the tests. He’s pale, looking uneasy as he takes his coat from the hanger by the side of the door. He puts it on and proceeds towards them with quiet steps. His gaze lingers slightly on the silent couple.
Reaching out a hand, he hesitates and lets it fall to his side before he speaks so quietly it’s hard to make out the words.
“Good luck,” the stranger says, his voice thick. “I hope you will be fine.”
They look up, hesitantly smiling back at the strange man. He exits the waiting room, disappearing into the freezing December morning.

Another door opens, and a nurse signals for them to come into the room. They stand, and support each other as they stagger towards the door, hearts in their throats. Both know what the other is thinking. Their hands continue to be tightly clasped as they walk into the next room.

***

Read more about World Aids Day.
Statistics and useful facts.

Spiritday & Amnesty

Happy Friday everyone~
In my case, I’ve been very productive today since getting up at 7, cleaning the entire bedroom (walls included), and the living room before meeting with a friend, and then walking pretty much around the entire south side of the city, before crashing at home with Akumu-chan, snacks and just having a good time with my friend~ Of course, we both wore purple!

Today’s Spirit Day, meaning it’s a day placing focus on the fight against bullying and discrimination against LGBTQ-individuals, putting focus on the  frightening statistics over bullying, slurs and suicide within this group, especially concerning teens. It’s hard enough as it is being a teenager, if your sexuality or gender isn’t going to cause others to treat you differently.
Spirit Day is a day where people worldwide show their support and concern by wearing purple.  I’m sure most of you have heard about it already, but if you want to know more about spirit day, you can go to the GLAAD website and read more, or turn your Twitter/Facebook profile picture purple. You can also buy goods that are related to he cause.
Personally, I think today’s one of the most important markings of the year. Because every day there are so many people out there being tormented for who they are, and although it’s not nearly enough – because enough would be a utopia where everyone supported and tolerated one another, but imagine how much it means to someone that you’re showing your support, that you’re wearing prurple for them; to support and encourage them. Like a warm hug, or a pat on the back, from the world, to those in need, saying “We’ve got your back, we won’t stop fighting.”

I hope many of my readers are wearing purple or turning their profiles purple today.

And while we’re on the subject of taking action against discrimination and unrighteousness, I want to remind my Norwegian readers of “TV-aksjonen” on Sunday. I’ll have to admit that I usually don’t pay attention to this event, so I usually don’t know what they’re raising money for, but this year, the funds are being collected for Amnesty International. “Stå opp mot Urett” (Stand up against injustice) is the motto of this year’s event, which amongst other important issues, is placing focus oequality. This summer, Amnesty had a campaign called “Å elske er en menneskerett” (To love is a human right) here in Norway, possibly other places as well, but I’ve only paid attention locally.This campaign had a huge focus on LGBTQ and the right to love the person you love. They are standing up against the injustice and discrimination some countries are showing towards a large part of the population. Obviously this is incredibly important to me, so when I heard Amnesty were the receivers of this years’ fund, I definitely wanted to do my part to help.

On Sunday afternoon/evening, collection box bearers will be knocking on doors all over the country, to try to raise money for this (and four other important) cause(s). I urge you all to give what little amount you can, to help Amnesty stand up against discrimitation and the robbing of human rights that so many people of the world are being subjected to. I know I will.
Remember that the smallest donation is a step in the right direction.

If you would like to read more abot the event, go to Amnesty.no. I also urge everyone in Norway to go to NRKs website, and read the stories of the brave people who are telling their stories about being subjected to discrimination, bullying and slurs just because of their sexuality, such as this one about Magdalena, whose father locked her in when she came out as a lesbian.  You can also read about how it’s estimated that 15-20 homosexuals are murdered in Turkey every year.

And then of course…there’s that article about how they censored a kiss between two men in the TV-series “Downtown Abbey”, which is just ridiculous and enraging. Why is it okay to show explicit straight sex and violence, but a same-sex kiss is an “outrage”?!
According to the aritcle, the kiss was taken out for “other reasons”, namely due to regulations of what kind of content is suitable for children, but what’s harmful about love?

It’s because of things like this that Spirt Day and the work Amnesty is doing is so important. Because we’re talking about human rights, which are stated in constitutions and the UN’s declaration of exactly, human rights.

Thanks for reaing this rant. I hope as many as possible show their support in one way or other, and check out those links.

Please continue enjoying your Friday!

Maaya says: Suicide Prevention and Awareness

September 10th; World Suicide Prevention day.
I know there are many people around the globe who scoff at days like these, who comment on the hypocrisy and how there’s need for prevention and awareness all year round.
Personally, I think that is why days like these are important; they put focus on something that many people might not consider in their daily lives. Seeing posters, statues and updates on the subject raises awareness, and influences people all over the world every year.
It’s not about jumping a bandwagon and doing what’s expected of you as a good person, but about being aware of what’s happening around you.
All year around.

According to WHO, apporx 1 million people committ suicide every year. That means there’s a high possibility someone close to you is considering, or has considered suicide at some point.
Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post, media and online communities has the power to spread messages – both good and bad, and thus has the power to affect in many ways. One of these ways is to look out for each other, and support one another.

Suicide is a serious concern in today’s society; particularily amongst young people. Peer pressure, bullying, high expectations, unlikely expectations, mental health issues… the list of reasons seems almost endless. Everyone has likely gone through a period in their life where it felt like they couldn’t go on – most get out of it, some don’t. Some need help and support to get out.

So please, if someone you know is going through a rough time, if they’re struggling with depression or self harm; stand by their side. Show them that you care, talk to them.
If you see someone making a post that makes you feel concerned – contact them. Don’t simply reblog.

But remember that you can’t carry it all on your own shoulders; talk to someone trustworthy; a hotline, a teacher, a councellor or a doctor.

If you’re struggling, and you’re considering suicide, remember that there is another option.
You can find someone to talk to:

International Suicide Hotlines: http://suicidehotlines.com/international.html
Spotting the signs, and helping someone suicidal: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/suicide_prevention.htm

Norway:

Mental Helse hjelpetelefon: 116 123
Kirkens SOS: 815 33 300
Landsforeningen for forebygging av selvskading og selvmord
Ung.no (links, advice and contact information)

US:
Suicide Prevention Line

It’s more than just reblogging a photo.
Remember that you matter. To someone, you make a difference.

Same Sex

Same Sex from Martine Sandberg on Vimeo.

Annika linked to this. It’s lovely, personal and important. A video about being true to yourself in Norway in 2012. It shouldn’t be necessary in this day and age, to come out, or defend your sexuality. It should be common knowledge that love holds no boundaries, and that it’s a beautiful thing.
Kine and Charlene’s video captures some of that beauty and melancholy.

Maaya says: Dear Teenage girl

Regardless of whether you see this as a post from me or Maaya, I hope that the words in it can somehow mean something to you. I’ve been wanting to say this for a while, but I couldn’t find the right words. I lurk the internet alot, and while it’s not new that society is killing teenagers, the internet is underlining this fact. Blogs, Twitter, Tumblr…the list goes on, and it’s not a pleasant sight. Teenagers dominate alot of these social media sites, and many of them use the sites as an outlet for their feelings; fears, frustrations, sadness, anger, insecurities… That in itself isn’t bad. There are many ways of expressing oneself, and if you want to write/draw/sing/scream it out, or express it in any way that might prevent you from hurting yourself or someone else, then that’s great and healthy. However, I find myself questioning how healthy these sites are. Not because I want to be the kind of person who wants to “take away” someones sanctuary – I understand the need for expression, and finding understanding in others.

What scares me is how sites like this have come to “glorify” certain things. What might start as innocent curiosity, or a way of seeking understanding might lead to an unhealthy obsession.
There’s an alarming rate of teens sharing experiences and fueling each other, by pulling each other down rather than helping each other up. Reblogging so-called “thinspiration”, self-injury-posts, posts that trigger and “inspire” others. “If that girl thinks she’s fat, I must be enormous”. “My cuts aren’t deep enough.” “I’m not good enough.” “I’m not pretty enough”.
How many posts like this are reblogged every day? Is it helping anyone?

I’m not pointing fingers. This is genuine concern.
Please don’t think you’re not good enough. Please don’t think you’re not pretty enough, or smart enough, or thin enough. Please don’t strive to be perfect. Perfection is an illusion. Don’t measure yourself by someone else – yes, it’s cliche. Of course that’s what you’re thinking.
But it’s true. Perfection – flawlessness doesn’t exist.

I hate to see all these beautiful, strong girls (and boys) feeling so insecure, so sad, driving themselves deeper into depressions because they think they’re not good enough.

Perhaps it sounds lecturing after all, writing a post like this.
“What do you know? These people are like me, they understand me.”
I understand, and I’ll post more about that matter later. And like I said earlier, it’s not the internet I want to lash out against, there is nothing wrong in seeking comfort from others. But the comparisons, the “competition”, the intense need to look towards someone else, perhaps copying their way of coping, continuously looking at content that hardly makes anyone feel better.

Yes, it’s your blog and you post what you want. Yes, it makes you feel better, getting it out. But isn’t it a vicious cirlce? Ultimately, a public person (and we all are in these online times) has a responsibility to protect themselves and others.
Haven’t we all done something because we read about it somewhere, because we were “inspired”? Didn’t we regret it? But regretting something, and telling someone “never do what I did” is pointless if we keep doing the exact opposites ourselves.

This isn’t about morals. Not really. I digress.

Please, look at yourself; what makes you feel this way? Is there someone you can talk to?
So many kids with problems refuse to talk about them. Even when they do get help, many refuse to accept it. Why? It’s difficult to be vulnerable, of course it is. But in the end, isn’t it worth a shot? Feeling awful all the time isn’t ideal either, is it? But in order to get the help you’re offered, you’ll have to be open. And it’s gonna hurt, and it’s going to be difficult. But maybe it’ll get better? It’s worth a shot. You’re worth it.

Dear teenage girl, teenage boy, young adult… Dear reader; you’re beautiful. You’re stronger than you think. You are good enough. It’s okay to be vulnerable and insecure. We all are, one way or another. You are good enough.
And there is help out there, don’t be afraid of seeking it.

Somehow, I wasn’t at all able to express what I wanted to say. I just hope that one day it doesn’t have to be like this.

Maaya says: Acting wisely, breaking taboos

Evening~
At long last I make this post, although Aids Awareness Day already passed 20 days ago.  I’m usually more punctual about these things, but this year I was having a hard time combining the info-post with a drabble. I started writing two of them, but I wasn’t happy with either. One felt too silly and never went anywhere, the other…I feared it would be too much like last year’s so I took it in another direction, and became uncertain again. As I panicked over my lack of writing skills and most of all time to write, I ended up not making a post at all.
I feel bad about it, because this year it felt particularily important to cast some light on the AIDS issue. It’s been 30 years since it first came around. We’ve come such a long way since then; from people not daring to be around hiv-positive individuals, having them alienated from public places like for instance pools. We know now that it’s not contagious through hugs or kisses. Hiv is no longer synonymous with death. You can have the diagnosis and still live a long, relatively healthy life. There are hospits and foundations doing their best to treat and take care of the ill.  Being Hiv-positive doesn’t mean that the person will develop AIDS either. With frequent testing, early (and continuous, effective) treatment, it doesn’t have to develop at all.
Moreover, today most people are well aware that Hiv/AIDS is not synonymous with homosexuality.
Because Hiv is transferred through bodily fluids (not spit), it’s easily transferred via sexual contact, both between males and females.
Myself, I’m finding it mildly confusing that we’re hysterical about protecting ourselves from media-hyped diseases we’re not very likely to contract, whilst not worrying about safety in sexual situation. It seems to me that a lof of the focus is primarily on birth control; if she’s on the pill, then what’s the risk? If you’re having sex with someone of the same gender, there’s no such risk. Is that it?
I’m no expert, just engaged in the subject.
Education is a keyword here (which was what I wanted to get at in the unfinished drabble). Only through education can we smash the walls that remain; rid ourselves of the taboos and clear up the misconceptions.
If we look at South Africa as an example, there were 12 million people infected by Hiv in 2006. Although the schools are teaching safe sex, the problem is that such a large portion of the kids aren’t attending school, and thereby miss out on the crucial information on protection and prevention as well as treatment. There are AIDS orphans living in the streets, and there are still misconceptions in some places that for instance sex with a virgin will cure the virus. In many cases this leads to rape of young girls, and new cases.
Education is the only solution. And starting from that, I think Awareness days are a great way to inform people, to educate and spread the word.  So although it’s 20 days overdue, it feels good to finally have said it.

Anyway, I’m considering posting both drabbles, if I can get myself to finish the first one…. I haven’t had much time between exams and projects.
But now, with Christmas break here at long last, I’ve decided to grab the bull by the horns and start by posting the first one.
I will have everyone know that this is not canon. I purposely don’t mention names in these, but it’s not hard to guess who it’s about, the problem is of course the season, and how it all comes together in SNOW. Thus, this isn’t a canonically written drabble, it’s just me exploiting my characters. But please enjoy it anyway ♥

Without further ado:

Awareness Drabble 2011. 01>

Dear Santa

I only wish for one thing this year: Respect.

I wish that people can respect one another, that school children can wear their santa hats to the last day of school without being told to take them off. Respect for other individuals doesn’t mean that we need to undermine who we are. That’s not what equality is about – if one part has to strip themselves of their own customs to please someone else, something has gone wrong. A compromise is a given, but obliteration is something else. Also, Santa isn’t a religious thing, he’s a commercial symbol, let the children have their fun. .

I wish that people should be allowed to love who they love without having to defend themselves or to be questioned on it. Nobody should tell them that they are abnormal, or a disgrace. If you love someone then there is no difference if they’re the same gender as you or not, or where they are from. Let people deal with their own personal lives.

I wish that people should start seeing each other as people.

Why do you think that this person is so different from you, just because you’re not the same color or share the same preferences?

Why is it that it’s been proven that Moms are the most important role models in children’s lives, yet two moms is a bad thing?

Why is it okay to help a straight couple conceive a child, or even let a single mom use a sperm donor from Denmark, but if a same-sex couple does it then it’s wrong?

Having children isn’t a human right – rather should there be a license required. But isn’t the best parent someone who loves, supports and cares for their child, rather than someone who lives in a straight relationship (make that relationships, people split up and find new partners, but nobody’s calling this Child abuse), with that as the only requirement.

I wish that politicians focused on more important things than whether or not they should abolish basic human rights.

No, getting married isn’t a right.

No, having a child isn’t a right.

No, expressing your beliefs isn’t a right (yes it is, but only if it’s politically correct).

These are privileges. But who are you, Mr/Mrs Politician, to tell us that we don’t have that right?

Because a straight parent is a bad parent, should we stop having kids?

Because someone gay was involved in a sex scandal, should we ban homosexuality?

Because someone did something horrible based on their religious beliefs, their personal interpretation of it, should we judge their entire religion?

All I ask for, is a little respect. Everyone is different. We should judge the individual, not an entire group.

We should allow people to be themselves and act out their true selves, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone. Santa hats doesn’t harm anyone. A couple getting married doesn’t harm anyone.

While we’re talking about respect: On July 22nd, our nation was struck by a terrible event. Can we please celebrate the holidays without any mentions of it? Without nightmare-inducing pictures, and pointless articles about someone who doesn’t deserve our attention? Out of respect to everyone affected by the incident, their family, friends and loved ones, can we please have a week without these articles?

And please, if you have the time; tell the world that alcohol is another privilege. It’s your choice if you want to have that drink or not, but your children don’t get to choose whether or not they will be affected by intoxication, unfamiliarity, uncertainty and pain on a day where they are supposed to be happy.

It’s not about you. It’s about those around you.

Finally, animals need to be respected too. I wish the fur industry would finally be stopped. Systematic cruelty is not okay.

The list could go on forever, but I only have one word: Respect.

Maaya says: we’re not there yet

Good afternoon everyone,
It’s election time in Norway, Monday is the big day. And although I know alot of my readers aren’t of age yet, I felt the need to make a post like this one, with the help of my own little politician of course. Fictional as he may be, Maaya was always more politically active than me, so I let him inspire me as I was writing, and as a result, I became more aware of the importance of politics, and my own heartcases.
The beauty of a democracy is having the power to shape the government, to choose who will govern for the next four years. Or rather, it’s about choosing who doesn’t get to govern.
It’s all about what you burn for, or course, but in my opinion what we should focus on is the right to live. Obviously we can’t have it all, it’s difficult to get someone to fix both the educational systems, more money for the schools and health sector, welfare, psychiatric help as well as enviromental and animal rights issues. In the end, it’s hard to get it all, and it might be hard to choosse what matters the most. For instance, I would love to see a bettering of the psychiatry, but the party that promises to focus the most on that are also for a lot of things that I’m opposed to.

Where am I going with this? Maaya can answer;

“Awareness. We need to be aware of what politicians stand for, what they’re against, and which parties are for ‘our’ cases. There are way too many countries in the world that actively practice discrimination on a daily basis. Denying someone the right to be themselves, whether it be based on religion, skin color, gender, sexuality or anything else, is wrong. I don’t understand how someone can for instance say that they want to fight against racism, they’re against discrimination and segregation, but then they won’t approve of gay marriages? That IS discrimination. It’s a violation of human rights. Not that it’s a human right to get married – that would be a privilege, in my opinion. But it’s a violation against humanity when you deny someone the right to be who they are. Saying it’s a violation against nature to be homosexual is ridiculous, look around and you’ll see that humans aren’t the only mammals where individuals are drawn to same-sex partners.
If you don’t like it, nobody can punish you for that, and nobody can force you to change your mind (even if they would like to with all their might). But, telling an entire nation that “you’re wrong, this is wrong, you are a freak.” and going as far as to punishing them for who they are – that is going too far.
You would never accept that your country say…banned a certain kind of religion for instance? That would never fly anywhere, unless we’re talking about a dictatorship. In a democracy, this kind of move would never be acceptable – or shouldn’t be. There are parties out there that continuously make suggestions or promises that are nothing short of discriminating – not to mention backwards. We’re in the 21st century, you can’t write homosexuality of as a “disease” or “unnatural” act. In that case, heterosexuality should also be banned, or how about banning an entire race?
Exactly.
What’s scary, is that a lot of political parties with absolutely horrifying plans appeal to a very large election-base; the young voters. A lot of voters know nothing more than that the party of choice is promising them things like lower alcohol prices, or lifting th ban on public consumption of alcohol etc. Kids care about partying.
Isn’t human rights more important?

So please, when the time comes to vote, have a look at what your party of choice has on their agenda regarding equality laws, views on homosexuality and other cases you care about.

Don’t let those who went first, who fought for these rights, have fought for nothing. We need to fight back, and make sure they never step on us again.

Thanks.”

There was alot of me in that too obviously, but for me this year there are two important agendas; the continous right to be allowto love and marry whoever we want in this country – regardless of gender, and the abolishment of the fur industry.
I wish all countries could be as open as we are, that everyone could be considered equals despite who they fall in love with, but knowing that there are still politicians out there who want to take this away from us, who still think it’s an illness and want it outlawed makes me realize that there is still a long way to go still. But they won’t win, right?

Happy voting everyone.