Growing up on this island, I only knew what was around me.
I knew there to be families made of a man, a woman and children. I knew there to be priests and nuns, widows and widowers and a few orphans who were friends of mine. That’s all. I didn’t know any children from broken families. I didn’t know of any single parents. And I certainly didn’t know about the existence of homosexuality. Then I moved to the larger island to attend university and my world expanded that little bit more. I travelled as much as I could, making friendships as I went along and the world that unfolded in front of me was beautiful. I wasn’t surrounded by the familiar anymore and that made me come alive.
I was, and still am, hungry for knowledge. It used to be intellectual knowledge that made my world go round. Now it’s more knowledge about the people around me, about the story of their life, about their happy endings and the twists in their tale that brought them to where they are today. I want to know the story of the lady who waits for her daughter outside her school all day. I want to know where the old man sitting next to me in church got his scars. I want to know the story of the two men holding hands at the supermarket.
I believe that having children changed my outlook on life in many ways, but mostly in this one. My biggest priority is for them to know that they are part of the human race, not just the tiny population of this island. I want them to feel proud to be part of this planet, to know that the world is their home. Growing up on an island has its perks but it also has the biggest drawback I can think of: that of having an insular mentality. Luckily, our children are exposed to a lot more variety and reality than we were. It’s not always a good thing, but growing up with the knowledge that not everyone has to fit into a pigeonhole is what I wish for them.
Most of all, I want them to grow up knowing that nobody’s choice of lifestyle is more acceptable than that of anyone else. Everyone has a right to happiness, to love and respect. Maia is already aware of the fact that some men love men and some girls love girls. She also knows that gay couples are as ‘normal’ as her own parents are (I’m assuming she considers us to be normal!), because many such couples are family friends. She doesn’t know that some other friends of ours are gay, simply because she never saw them with a partner and there is no reason why she should question their sexuality. Like nobody should. What defines a person? Is it who they love or what they achieve and what they give? Does it really matter whom a person chooses to spend their life with? I feel I cannot fully express with words the depth of my feelings about this issue. So I’ll leave you with this video, which had me sobbing like a baby:
I also wanted to let you know, should you be at the University of Malta in the coming days, to look out for the posters put up by We Are (UOM’s LGBT society) around campus to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (that’s tomorrow). If not, you can see them here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.534681949911672.1073741829.143541772359027&type=1