Part 1: When You Wish Upon A Star, Nothing Happens.
Day in and day out, we find ourselves in the same old routine yearning for something beyond the ordinary. For those of us who saw Disney’s Tangled, a delightful and clever reinterpretation of the classic fairytale, many of us can relate with Rapunzel’s statement “when will my life begin?” In the two and a half minutes of Mandy Moore’s ballad, we see the repetitive nature of the main character—engaged in puzzles, candle making, cleaning, and reading the same books from cover to cover, only to then repeat the same routine tomorrow. Once a year, however, there is one slight change in the habitual life of our heroine. High above the night sky, she gazes upon shining lights that signify another year of the countries long lost princess.
Wouldn’t we all like our lives to be like a Disney movie? The characters are beautiful, their worries seem simple, and the message ultimately remains the same: when we wish upon a star, all of our dreams come true. After years of dreaming, wishing seems to be an outdated form of problem resolution, resulting in dissatisfaction and disillusionment. Life as we know it is far from simple. Balancing finances, school, work, relationships, and family obligations stretches us to a level beyond capacity; consequently, stress becomes our greatest foe that we cannot subdue through comical song and dance.
The media assumes that life in the gay community is a duplicate of life in a Disney film, with flamboyance and regal presentation in every aspect of daily life. Gay men withstand the stereotype of exuberance and elation that almost supersedes the rest of the world. The media has been quite successful in presenting homosexuals as tweaked out happiness addicts with a secret we all wish to know.
Reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
The common misconception that being gay is synonymous with being happy is preposterous—the true life of a gay man is anything but cheerful.
What the media fails to show its audience is the true colors of the rainbow. Shades of somber gray, red violence and aggression, and royal blue depression drown hopeless individuals to suicide. Unlike heterosexuals, homosexuals experience various forms of discrimination and resistance from the hetero-normative archetypes of masculinity and femininity. At the mercy of a society ignorant of the realities and struggles of the gay community, homosexuality is chaos.
Being a sexual minority in a largely anti-gay society can result in physical and emotional stress, similar to that of any other minority group. Gay men and women experience Homophobia—when other people are anxious, uncomfortable, or disgusted by homosexual behaviors or actions. Moreover, gay men and women also experience Heterosexism, similar to racism or sexism, which denies, ignores, and protests homosexual forms of emotional and sexual expression (Webber, 2006). The overwhelming amount of discrimination and sexual repression that homosexuals experience can be incomprehensible and cause many to cope with drugs and alcohol (Webber, 2006).
What then becomes the true path to happiness? Is filling our emptiness with merchandise and luxuries the key to a fulfilling life? Or is it the quantity and/or quality of people that we include in our lives? Is happiness attainable or is it simply a successful marketing ploy and ultimately a false promise of the Disney franchise. We are social creatures that live in the constant company of others. It is therefore impossible to think happiness is solely dependent upon the individual without taking into account the relationships that occupy our lives. While reading the articles to follow, I invite you to explore and analyze the relationships that are important to you so that you may better understand how they, in turn, define and influence your life.
Weber, G. (2008). Using to numb the pain: Substance use and abuse among lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 30, 31-48