We were all given stars of different colors. The guy next to me, Kyle, picked a Blue Star. I picked a Red Star. We're looking at these cute little paper stars and our instructor said "These stars represent your world. Put your name in the middle." I wrote my name down and eagerly awaited the next instructions. He continued: "On the first point, write one of your best friends. When you are done, look up." I followed the directions, writing "Janelle" in the space. He then went through all the other points: your community, a family member, your dream career, and your dreams/aspirations. I was feeling pretty good about my star. Kyle's star looked pretty good too:
My mind went nuts. I looked at my star and started wondering what would happen. Would my friends accept me? How would I be treated differently at church? What would my family say? How could I achieve all my dreams if I had this trial to hinder me?
"The first person you decide to tell is your best friend because you think that will be the easiest. If you have a blue star, your friend is completely okay with your sexual orientation and embraces you. They give you their full support. If you have a red star, your friend completely rejects you. They are angry and decide that you no longer can be friends. Please rip that point off your star and drop it to the ground."
Oh no. I ripped Janelle off my star and thought "I'm going to lose everything. If my friends can't accept me, then what do I have?"
We continued clockwise around our stars. My friends didn't support me, my family disowned me, my community ostracized me, and I lost my job. My world was looking pretty sad:
"Those of you with blue stars are happy, your world is complete and you are able to achieve all of your dreams and live your lives as you please. Those of you with red stars have no support. Because you lack support, you turn to alcohol and other drugs. Soon you fall into a horrible depression and commit suicide. Please rip your star in pieces and drop it to the ground."
Our instructor walked around the room and took some of the other stars- ones that were missing pieces but still were happy- and ripped them to shreds. "Those of you who just had your stars ripped up represent the victims of hate crimes. Many people that have a support system are still targeted by those who cannot accept their sexual orientation." Then our instructor asked "How do you feel about this activity?"
There was just one word for me: Hopeless. I couldn't do anything about my circumstances and I was in tears as I tried to explain to my class. I wasn't the only student who was having a hard time controlling my emotions. Kyle spoke up shortly after me and said "I couldn't look at Xochitl. Every time she had to rip off one of her points, I was so glad that it wasn't me. At the same time, I didn't think it was fair to see her life fall to pieces while mine was fine. I wanted to help her."
I never want to make anyone feel so awful. I think about the people that have come in and out of my life, and I hope that I never made them feel like my friendship was conditional. In our activity, I was the one falling apart, but if I had been in Kyle's situation, it wouldn't have changed anything. I just wanted to give everyone a hug and say "I'm here for you! Forget them, I'll love you anyway!"
The hardest part was when our instructor asked "If this really happened to you, how would your support system really react?" and I said "You know, it's hard because I know that they would accept me, but they wouldn't embrace me. I would have to walk into a family gathering and know that everyone was just talking about me. I would have to go to church and feel the criticism of other members of my faith. I don't know if I could do that. I would still have the love of those around me, but I don't know if I could deal with the gossip. It would destroy me."
What would you do?