Look At Your Close Ones, Are You Letting Them Be Who They Truly Are?

Bruna Vila Artigues, News Editor

Freedom of expression was established in the First Amendment in the 18th century over 200 years ago, so that people could express ideas without the fear of government censorship. However, sometimes our biggest fear is not the higher ups, but the people standing right beside us.

Hundreds of years later, we proudly say that we live in a century in which it is okay to be who you are, to wear what you want, to sing what you love, to dance what you feel and to write what you believe. In fact, you would think people would have had enough time to process this freedom of expression, to understand what it means, to respect others’ and to embrace it for themselves. But I am not sure this is the case.

The United States: a country that landed on the moon, invented the internet, owns the biggest variety of fried food, reigns in the film industry, has their own type of football, is made of nearly every culture in the world, but does not accept all people.

The United States is the land everybody looks up to, the land of evolution and latest developments, the land of opportunities and second chances, the land that judges and punishes certain expressions.

Last week, rapper Lil Nas X showed up to the Grammy Awards in a spectacular Versace hot pink cowboy outfit that made everybody’s mouth drop. A promising young star nominated for six very deserving awards, giving visibility and validation to all the people out there like him and expressing himself just like any other artist did that night. But rather than receive praise, he got punished for it.

“Welp, Guess I won’t be winning a GRAMMY…If this what I gotta wear,” captioned rapper Pastor Troy in a picture he shared of Lil Nas X in his outfit, proceeding with a very disgusting homophobic rant.

And this is only one of the million examples out there. Freedom of expression goes beyond words and speeches. Freedom of expression breaks stereotypes and liberates creativity. And everybody is entitled to have and share an opinion about it, but not to purposely hurt and despise others. And here is where the line is drawn. You do not have to agree with it, but you have to respect it.

Everyday, anywhere, a little boy is scared to wear makeup, a little girl is scared to transition, a father is scared to come out, a mother is scared to share their political values, a grandfather is scared to wear a skirt, a grandmother is scared to sing rap.

Everyday, anywhere, someone is terrified of speaking their mind or being themselves because of others’ reactions. Look around you, look at your close ones, are you letting them be who they truly are?

The government might tell you whether or not something falls within freedom of expression, but the people beside you can personally and deeply hurt you. Let’s turn things around and open our arms to the ones that differ from us and show them that they can stay true to themselves no matter what.