By Dra. Margarita Mendoza-Burgos, psychiatrist and psychologist
Break the mold. Think outside the box. Be unique. In theory, the world invites us to be different. It is enough to read some of the many phrases that the bookmarks or birthday cards illustrate to verify it. From that of rocker Kurt Cobain, with his "They laugh at me because I'm different. I laugh at them because they are all the same ”even that of the Turkish writer Mehmet Murat ildan and his advice: "Be different so people can see you clearly in the crowd".
But nevertheless, in real life, the situation is not as idyllic as it is posed in those clever motivational phrases.
To the different person - either because of their race, because of their sexual orientation, by their nationality- it tends to segregate. Everything that is different scares us. We regard them as weirdos. We are very used to seeing what is different as something that inspires us fear, alarm and danger. We automatically lock ourselves, we try to push it away or deny it because we don't know how to react to it.
further, if that different can appear in our homes or among our acquaintances it is even worse. And much more if the "different" are ourselves who have not yet perceived it. When he appears he can touch us, why not?
In the races, we are concerned about changing customs or morals, but the problem is that we close. We do not try to communicate and try to understand or at least tolerate what is different.
There may be exceptions, but usually they almost always feel discriminated against, exposed, judged, rejected and even attacked with rude expressions or using inappropriate language. We call them indians, blacks, Chinese ... We apply an appellation to anyone we want to minimize that differentiates us from ourselves.. The recent assassination of African American George Floyd demonstrated, for example, that in the United States racism is an unresolved issue and this new wound will take time to heal.
From our point of view, anyone who does not conform to the normal parameters falls into the category of "freak". In other words, weird character. These are people who scare us and that we cannot understand, more if it's about subcultures like emos, los punks, the goths and other followers of those urban tribes.
This intolerance is usually instilled from home and that is where the change must be made.. Then, Of course, must continue in schools. This will be reflected in society and in the media in whose advertisements; some intentions have been seen to demolish stereotypes, like men doing tasks that have always been considered feminine, but it's not enough.
And not to mention if we refer to sexual orientation, because despite all the progress in recent years we are still a homophobic society and the LGTBQ community is the one that suffers the most from this intolerance.
The Latin American Center for Sexuality and Human Rights, in conjunction with the Rio De Janeiro State University, conducted a survey in Latin America on the consequences of belonging to that community: the 77% of those surveyed admitted to being discriminated against because of their sexual condition while the 66% claimed to have received attacks of some kind.
Regarding lesbianism, ni se diga, Since it implies two differences being a woman and not liking the opposite sex… To more differences, more fear and more rejection.
People may be a bit more open to the public, but in the private the prejudices remain almost intact.