Can You Handle the Truth?

Imagine a world in which blue eyes are illegal. People still live in countries where simply having blue eyes can lead to imprisonment or death. As a result, blue-eyed people face ferocious persecution.

Tortured. Shamed. Ripped piece by piece. Physically broken. Emotionally shattered. Spiritually dismembered. Raped. Abandoned. Left to die.

In this world, a specific eye color causes fathers to murder their own sons to preserve their family's honor.

Sure, in such a world, you could instruct those with blue eyes to wear sunglasses, color contacts, or even masks, to hide their perceived "imperfection." But would you not find such a world absurd? Is it not chilling to think that entire countries would fall victim to such illogical conclusions as equating a specific eye color to a sin punishable by death?

In her 2015 commencement speech to my graduating class at the University of Pennsylvania, Ambassador Samantha Power challenged my peers and I to "act as if." She encouraged us to meet people where they are so that we might actually convince them to consider another point of view.

So I've decided to "act as if." To believe that maybe one person can begin to change the world with just a piece of paper and a pen.

My argument is simple: illegalizing homosexuality is as absurd as illegalizing blue eyes. Think about it. Both of these factors are involuntary and ultimately, unchangeable -- a single trait of a whole human being. To remark that one's eye color defines a person is comical. In the same way, no human being can possibly be summed up by their sexual orientation.


In a rationale world, the act of being myself would not warrant violence and animosity just as merely having blue eyes would not justify murder. I am not an abomination nor am I a sin. I am not illegal. I am not a threat to the sanctity of marriage. I am a person -- just like you. Could anything else write this article?

It is human prejudices and biases that imbue traits (such as sexual orientation and eye color) with significance. One person may find blue eyes alluring while another prefers a darker shade. What conclusions can be drawn from this statement? Does this mean blue eyes are better than darker ones? Should you not have brown eyes because I prefer the color blue?

There is nothing intrinsically evil or even special about being gay just as there is nothing intrinsically evil or special about having blue eyes. It is we, human beings, who are continuing to give these traits the power to justify hatred and murder around the world. We tack on stereotypes and buy into horrendously misconstrued opinions as if they are facts until the truth becomes completely irrelevant -- left unexamined, unimportant and mistaken for a mere technicality.

If you actually hunt for the truth, you may be surprised by what you find. Take David Blankenhorn. Blankenhorn was once vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage. Then in an op-ed in the New York Times, Blankenhorn recounted his realization that there is actually nothing preposterous or sinful about gay marriage. "So my intention is to try something new," he concluded.

I urge you, you who continue to hate and deny acceptance to gay people simply because they are gay, to try something new. Like Blankenhorn, I urge you to consider another point of view and the validity of your "facts."

I urge you to consider all of the people who have dared to "act as if" in countries which have killed them for it. Their bodies may very well be beaten, maimed and buried. But their integrity, what they stand for, remains unscathed.

Here is to hoping that someday we will all realize that the world we currently live in is as ridiculous as a world where blue-eyed people are killed for something so trivial and out of their control as their eye color.

The real question is: Can you handle the truth?

Can you try something new?