We should celebrate eccentricities in our lives

By Brittney Cannon
Deputy editor

Sometimes when people ask me what my tattoo means, I will brace myself for an unpleasant conversation — you never know who may be opposed to  equal rights.

My tattoo is a simple, small equal sign that cost me around $70 and half an hour at a Knoxville, Tennessee, tattoo parlor. A friend of mine at a party last weekend made a comment about it that stuck with me.

“I like it,” she said. “It’s simple, but so powerful.”

She’s right. I got this tattoo because equality is something I feel passionately about. Deep down, each of us is human, despite our sexual preferences, our gender, our skin color, our personal styles, our religion or lack thereof.

Being born — a woman, a man, gay, Muslim, African, Mexican, Asian — shouldn’t be something that holds us back in life. It shouldn’t be a reason to be bullied.

Choosing to be — vegetarian, atheist, religious, in the military — shouldn’t hold us back in life, either, or warrant someone being mistreated.

One of my close friends back home is creative beyond belief. He can play the organ, piano or accordion like nobody’s business and has created some amazing paintings that, I think, rival Vincent Van Gogh or Andy Warhol. He introduced me to my husband, and for that I owe him everything. He’s also gay.

It pains me, enrages me and saddens me deeply when he tells me he’s been bullied or been the subject of hate speech for his “lifestyle choices.” One day, he told me some children that lived in his apartment complex threw rocks at him as he walked by, and yelled horrible names at him.

Children did that. What, other than hatred toward anyone not like you, are their parents teaching them?

We should celebrate the eccentricities in our lives instead of shove them behind closed doors. We should embrace people who are different from us, because diversity is a beautiful, wonderful thing.

Despite our differences that make us individuals, we all share the same basic things in common. We all have lungs, hair, eyes, skin and hearts. We all love, feel and get hurt. We all make mistakes. We all enjoy having fun with our friends and family. We are all human.

We are all the same. So why judge someone based on the color of their skin, who they love, or what supreme being — if any — they choose to believe in? It’s not affecting your lifestyle directly, so why affect someone else’s just because they’re different from you?

You know, maybe I’ll stop bracing myself when I tell people that I believe in equality. The universal symbol for it is permanently tattooed on my arm, after all. It’s not going anywhere, and neither is my stance.

Brittney Cannon is deputy editor for Clovis Media Inc. Contact her at bcannon@cnjonline.com