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The Voice of Freedom

Jonathan Huang (text)

Mr TT from Unsplash (graphics)

Carnations of red, daffodils of blue,

chrysanthemums of pink, violets of cerulean…

Aren’t they nice?


I had used every crayon in that 64 pack to paint my canvas a mesh of pinks that danced with reds, which continued on to blossom into brilliant blues and purples. I was so proud of what I created — a meadow filled to the brim with flowers of every variety.


But be careful though, for your buds burn too bright…


Eager to show off my masterpiece, I ran up to the front of the classroom and slammed my creation on the teacher’s desk. A rush of adrenaline accompanied the anticipation for the praise I was sure to receive.


Flowers that burn must be extinguished: crushed, cut, and manicured.

We can’t have a garden that blinds those who gaze upon it after all.


But all I heard was a sigh before my teacher began to choose her words calculatingly:


“为什么你画花?你看,其他的男孩子都画了车和超级英雄...” 

“Why did you draw flowers? Look, all the other boys drew cars and superheroes…”


She went on, criticizing my color choice and shaking her head as she continued to scan the canvas. I returned to my seat feeling confused—what’s wrong with my meadow of flowers? What’s wrong with my art? What’s wrong with me


But don’t worry!

We’ll get you fixed right up — clip your petals, trim your leaves. 


From then on, I made my best efforts in trying to follow the footsteps of the other boys. I wore dark hues when I actually wanted to wear pink, forced myself into liking superheroes and video games when I truly wanted to giggle about boys or music, and yes, even joined a soccer team. At home and on the playground, I lied to my friends, my family, and to myself. But still, it felt nice to fit in with the other boys. It felt nice to create a “home” for myself. 


There! See, now isn’t that nice? You fit right in…

But you know, even the most meticulously kempt flowers will bloom again someday...


Manufacturing a new identity for the purpose of feeling at “home” was easy. Living it, however, was not…


At the beginning of high school, my friend came out to me. She seemed so liberated — her smiles began to shine a million times more brilliantly as she freed this part of her identity. Seeing freedom manifest itself in her inspired me to actively seek It out too. I found myself surfing (privately) on the internet: through forums where I met new people and began to understand who I am, and yes, even taking a plethora of “Am I Gay?” quizzes (surprise! if you’re unironically taking an “Am I Gay” quiz, chances are you’re not exactly entirely heterosexual). My (VPN protected) online persona flourished under the guise of anonymity; I had created a whole new community and home for myself, or rather my unrepressed, true identity. 


Look at you, silly! What happened? You’re flourishing. 

Thriving. 

Living. 

You’ve finally broken out of your pot, out of that garden.

You’ve finally found your meadow...


I created friendships with people from all around the world. I even met a boyfriend online in this underground home. I grew. Slowly, this home began to outgrow my computer--it began to entrench itself in my everyday life. I came out to people. I quit soccer. And I couldn’t be happier. 


I was surprised when I didn’t feel homesick at all after starting college. In fact, I felt freer than ever, without the baggage of needing to suppress myself for those back home, or the weight and fear of being abandoned by those that I trapped myself in friendship with. This was my opportunity to start anew, and I did—I expressed my authentic self to everyone that I met, wearing my pink hoodies and getting wonderfully giddy about my true passions, and as a result, made authentic friends that I treasure oh-so-dearly. By leaving the only physical home I knew all my life, I finally understood the metaphysical one that I harbored within me--the one that started on my computer all those years ago--a home comprised of authentic friendships and the beautiful hearts and smiles of those that I care about and love.


...and It — the blinding and burning light of freedom.  


Home is the fruit of freedom: freedom of the spirit and mind, freedom to be yourself and to blossom and bloom in your own capacity--to create a place for yourself, physical or not.





Haru Sukegawa

a thing about Lisa