I was given the task of taking care of my younger brother, the house and my education at a young age. I was always a quiet child taking solace in my own time. This made me a significantly domestic young man. My first encounter of discrimination was when I was a child when my brother and I were younger. We were being introduced to my step father’s side of the family. My step father looked at my younger brother and said
“here is my son” and said to me “this is Troy (which is my nickname)”. My mother just stood there and accepted it, that I was just Troy… at that moment I felt that I was being misidentified.
Having saved my mom from suicide twice, had saved me from self sabotage making me altruistic. It was sort of a wake up call… With acts like that, it gave me the rite of passage as a youngster growing up. Staying up late, going out with friends-the works.
On the other hand, my orientation became the concern of many as I was not interested in a girlfriend did not want one. I was labelled as the girly nerd, because I was engrossed in books rather than manly things. Men are respected for having masculine abilities. People did not see man, they saw a girly, quiet, too distant man in the form of a boy. Society had it switched.
In high school, I was able to set my mind to working hard and making my family proud. I am good at anything I put my mind to. In my school environment it was no different, teachers considered me to be narcissistic in first encounters and I had this sarcastic manner about it. I was not respected until they saw my grades.
Everyone in my family has some amount of disrespect for me because I’m different– I’m considered a disgrace. I’m too intelligent because I know stuff. I have to be gay.
Recently I took a taxi, I usually walk with a knife and whenever I’m entering taxis I take it out and have it close to my side, to avoid people saying that it’s sticking them. I was in the taxi, and there was a guy, who had on a really good pair of shoes that he wore well. I was staring at the shoes and felt him looking at me- I looked like a cruff then. I looked at him and followed his eyes, he saw my knife in my hand. Apparently I forgot to put it up. I asked “are you feeling threatened by me now?” He said “slightly, but hearing you speak. I know that you are not like the others”. Meanwhile, there was another guy who was at the front screwing the whole journey. Why? Because the guy with the shoes was gay. I was only judging based on his dapper shoes.
The scholarly definition of Respect is an epistemic virtue. Respect to the common man is relative and often times feelings are attached to what people see. I see Respect from the very root of the word. To look at something clearly for what it is and not to attach your views or feelings to it. To see it clearly as it is in its own right and not in any predisposition.
***Name withheld to protect Identity