August 19, 2017 Michelle

I Wish People Would Stop Hating Those Who Are Different From Them

I gotta be honest. I really can’t believe what’s going on in the world right now. I just don’t understand this intense hatred among certain groups of people. No one group is superior over another. Period.  We are all individual souls here to live out a human experience. So, it’s mind boggling that some people think they’re better because of their skin, their socio-economic status or their religious and moral beliefs. I realize that division naturally occurs in nature (the “us” vs “them” mentality), but why must it have the added layers of nastiness, hatred and potential war? In my opinion, you can be different and simply choose to disagree minus the crazy-ass, violent protesting.

Of course, divides get even worse when it comes to how people self-identify with their gender, their sexuality or their relationship choices. Does it make you cringe that someone might be bisexual and polyamorous? Then stop reading here, because I come from the standpoint and belief system that as long as people aren’t hurting each other or those around them, and their choices are consensual and informed, then they should be free to do what they want and be left alone in peace. What good is it going to do to assault them? I mean, what age are we living in?

I’m assuming you’re continuing to read this because you are a conscious, spiritually-awake human being and you think about issues from all sides with an open mind. So for a moment, I’d like you to think about the LGBT community. In larger cities like LA (my home), San Francisco and NYC, being gay is practically mainstream now. For the most part, we live in a bubble because we are used to the diversity and to accepting others who are different from us. Without a doubt, there are still haters in big cities. But it’s easier for LGBT people to find their respective community and to have the support they need to live a normal life. It’s not so easy for those in smaller cities or towns where they feel they need to live in secret. My heart goes out to them, because they are held back from living their own truth, and what’s worse is that they live in fear of condemnation, whether that’s being fired from their job, being ostracized from their church, being outright bullied verbally or physically because of their preferences, being uninvited to family gatherings, etc. The list goes on. Imagine if you had to live in that fear. Let’s put this in perspective.  Imagine if you had to hide the fact that you love golf, that you love to play the guitar in your free time, that you think of your dog as if they were your child, or to take it to a different level, that you enjoy playing around with fuzzy handcuffs with your spouse?  How do you think it would feel to hide something that feels completely normal to you?

With that, I turn to another community of people who I stumbled upon while doing research earlier this year about the taboo topic of incest. This seems to be showing up in a lot of tv and film programming as of late (read: Game of Thrones). Part of me admittedly picked the topic because I knew it would have shock value for my podcast, but the other part of me was also curious about learning more.

I first covered it from the perspective of overt abuse, where an underage family member is taken advantage of sexually, and what long-term effects this abuse has on their adult relationships and work life. You can hear that episode with Dr. Lesliebeth Wish here:

Then I covered incest from the other side of the coin, the perspective of two consenting adults who choose to be together, which their community terms “consanguinity”, a much less ominous word than “incest”, I might add.  I personally wondered why two relatives would want to be together in this way, as it was completely foreign to me. I’ve never been attracted to anyone in my family. I’ve had a couple of ex-boyfriends who seemed to be a lot closer to their sisters than felt comfortable for me though, so I’ve had times when it struck me from the side within my own interpersonal relationships. Regardless, while it’s not something I have done myself or would do, I don’t automatically hate on consang people for being different from me. And I ask that you try to have an open mind as well.

What I want you to know is that it’s very real.  There is an entire underground activist movement going on with this minority group. They long to be understood, and they are tired of hiding in fear of danger and condemnation for their choices in romantic relationships. Frankly, prior to a few months ago, I had no idea that this community existed at all, so it’s very interesting to me to cover it on my podcast, and I think it’s important for people to be aware of it. Mark my words, this will be gaining more and more attention in the coming years.

I’m also covering this topic because it’s about humanity and can be a great exercise to stop reacting and to start listening. You can still disagree with choices that any community makes, but you don’t have to hate them all for it. They aren’t hurting you or society. They just want to be free to love who they want to love.

Perhaps in your mind, it’s one thing for two gay people to be together, but it’s a whole different thing for two siblings, cousins, half-siblings or a parent-child relationship to happen. It’s a tough idea for many people to get their head around, no doubt. But you don’t have to be a consang supporter or turn into their best friend. As a matter of fact, you don’t need to make any effort to connect at all. That’s your prerogative. But what I’m hoping for here is a general acknowledgment and acceptance that there are indeed people who are different than you. That’s a fact. What’s also a fact – a blaring one – is that it doesn’t necessarily mean they are BAD people. (As I write this, I should clarify that there are always going to be a few bad apples in any community and in ANY group of people. So I’m not saying that everyone in the LGBT or consang communities is an angel. I’m not saying that white, black or Asian or any other group of people are perfect and are all angels either. I’m simply saying in a general way that not all people who are different from you should be seen as dark and evil because of their differences.)

I am being educated on the consang community quite a bit, and there’s much more to it than you might think, including the fact that this group of people believes they are wired differently, as many of them lack the Westermarck effect (the “eww” feeling and turnoff you get when you think of a relative in a romantic way). The majority of the population naturally has this effect, as well as some adult siblings who grew up apart and reconnect after many years (the concept of Genetic Sexual Attraction). GSA people aren’t attracted to their adoptive family at all, I’ve been told.  I’ve also learned that consensual incest was a regular part of society in ancient times, and it’s in fact legal in several states and countries even today. Who knew?

Of course, it’s still considered very taboo, and the consang community knows about the long road they are facing to be heard, accepted and treated equally, similar to the gay community 50 years ago. They want others to know that they are choosing to be in relationships that are consensual and informed. Getting laws amended to address the consensual side of incest, rather than just abuse from incest, will take many, many years, and will likely result in a lot of protesting and pure hatred from those who don’t listen to all the facts. And that seems like a theme in society right now, which deeply saddens me.

And so, I’m presenting a second episode on my podcast tomorrow/Sunday at 5 PST with Jane Doe, one of the chief activists for the consanguinamory community. You can listen on my website or on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or Castbox under NOTHING OFF LIMITS. Please subscribe to my podcast – I appreciate the support.  This episode reveals results of a survey Jane ran, which she believes will be one step forward for consang people, as it arms them with real data to support their case that they should be legally allowed to be together. If you’re still reading this, then I think you’ll be interested to hear some of her findings.

Thank you for having an open mind and for making the effort to understand (and hopefully accept) others who are different from you.

Be kind. Please stop shaming.