The Secrets We Keep

Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto.

Secrets are on my mind this summer for two reasons.

Reason #1: Let’s take a trip back to the 90s. When I was a teenager my parents were a little touchy about secular music. We were eventually allowed to listen to it but they were particular about lyrical content for a long time.

A few months ago a TV special on one of my favourite artists from that era aired about what was actually going on in this singer’s life back then. A lot of old controversies were dredged up in this documentary: her eating disorder, a fatal car accident she was initially blamed for,  a secret relationship she had as a teenager with a much older man , and a marriage she invented in order to preserve her squeaky clean image when she accidentally got pregnant in her early 20s.

As a teenager I didn’t know about any of this. I simply enjoyed her music. Would I have thought less of her if I’d known about all of the things she lied about? No. In some ways it would have actually made me like her more. It’s easier to relate to role models who aren’t perfect, who don’t always make good decisions. I wonder how her life would have been had she felt free to be an (im)perfect role model?

Reason #2: The Healing. A few weeks ago Teresa recommended this book to me. It’s set in the mid 1800s in the south and is about the life of a slave who is kidnapped and renamed by her mistress as a newborn. The narrator grows up knowing nothing about her origins. To make a long story short she’s suddenly rejected by her mistress as a teenager and spends the rest of her life uncovering the mystery of her biological family and helping other slaves/former slaves piece their lives together.

Even that description doesn’t do justice to the plot. Just trust me. This is a book well worth checking out.

Privacy vs. Honesty

Of course not everyone is going to be ok with issue or behaviour X. Some people  may actually treat general-you very poorly because of it. It’s so much easier sometimes to avoid all of that hassle in the short term even if there’s a chance someone will figure it out eventually.

There are also privacy issues to consider. Not everyone needs to know everything all of the time. It’s not only ok to be a private person, one can be 100% comfortable in his or her skin without feeling the need to broadcast their lives.

To give a silly example: this past weekend was the annual Pride parade here in Toronto. Every year volunteers sell these stickers that say things like, “str8,” “married,” “bi,” “gay,” etc. for people who want to wear them. While Drew and I were walking around the booths he kept teasing me about not wearing a sticker.

“You should be proud of who you are!” he’d joke.

“I am proud,” I’d say. “I just don’t feel the need to advertise who I am.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing that, for the record…it simply isn’t my style.


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0 Responses to The Secrets We Keep

  1. daphnepurpus

    This is a great post!  I truly think that people should be honest and that when a celebrity has that kind of courage to be an “imperfect” role model, I think they do a lot more good.  On the privacy issue I do believe that everyone has the right to be as private as they want and no one should be forced to share or disclose anything they chose not to.

    In situations like the Pride Parade, I think anyone who feels totally comfortable with stickers or whatever or sharing their life etc. should because way too often those who are uncomfortable with the GLBTQ community or are even homophobic will chant that they don’t know any gays.  We are a minority which can “blend,” (well, I can’t but many can), and it makes it easier for those against the community to say that they don’t know anyone.  When I first realized I was lesbian (at age 52–some of us are late bloomers), I told my friends (who all said “We’ve always known that!”) and since I was self-employed, I sported bumper stickers (in AZ) for all those who couldn’t without risking losing their job or worse.  I also wanted my students to know that they had a safe space with me, as that also isn’t always obvious to them.  However, I was totally comfortable with any support I showed and that is also important.  I couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t been ok with sharing myself and face it some people are by nature more private than others and that is as it should be.

    Now I am going to check out The Healing!  It sounds like a fantastic book! And again, many thanks for a super post.  You always get me thinking!  

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