The importance of acceptance and equality in today’s world is a delicate matter if you ask me. The root of acceptance is there and planted in each individual, but do we all really allow for it to flourish is the question.
We live in a world where it is okay to have a voice, but not too loud, where it is OK to want equality, but being a feminist is considered “too extreme”. We live in fear of expressing who we really are because we don’t want to be judged and talked about.
Whether you are straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, purple, green, or blue, there is one thing we all have in common, it is that we are all human beings trying to exist in a world that is constantly constraining us.
Jessica Natal, a Jersey-City based designer and visual artist, courageously told her story through her work, The Persistence of Memory–Letters from My First, currently on display at the Center for Latino Arts and Culture at College Avenue and the Center for Social Justice Education on Livingston Campus through the end of the semester.
Natal was a teenager in the late 1990’s struggling with coming out and finding herself in midst of a time period where being gay was not as accepted as it is today. Her artwork is designed on 2’x3′ pieces of sheet rock, so of which is broken into pieces as a reflection of the difficult experience she had to live through when she began a secret relationship with her best friend.
Last October 16, I attended the Queer People of Color (QPOC) Reception at the Red Lion Cafe, where I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica and listen to her tell her story through this amazing video montage she put together. She is so talented and such an awesome person and expressed her feelings through art in a way that I had never seen before. I realized that by simply looking at her, you would never know all that she had been through. As a matter of fact, I cannot tell what anyone’s story is by just looking at him or her. That is why we are in no position to judge anyone based on what we see on the exterior. No one deserves to be told whom he or she can or cannot love, what they can or cannot wear, or how they can or cannot act.
As I was sitting there at the QPOC reception, I looked around and was amazed by all these people gathered in one place, proud and embracing of whom they are, especially the hostess who performed a risqué burlesque show. I had never been to an event like this before in my life and I will admit at times in my head as I was watching the burlesque performance I was wondering “what is going on here!” But boy did she make her voice loud and clear.
We should all be proud of who we are and not allow ourselves to be defined by who we love, what we look like, or what we believe in. Acceptance, compassion, and understanding are vital in order to tear down the many facades put up everyday by individuals who feel misunderstood. If you have something to say, say it loud and proud people.
Exhibition is on display through December 12 at the Center for Latino Arts and Culture (122 College Avenue, CAC) and Center for Social Justice Education and LGBTQ Communities (Tillet Hall, Room 247, Livingston Campus).