Paetyn Monroe

2018-2019 Live Deliberately Essay Contest

Paetyn Monroe, 17
Honorable Mention, 17-18 Age Group
Van Buren, Arkansas

Change starts small. Although there are many things that need to be fixed in society as a whole, it all begins with a single individual. It takes one person’s good thoughts to start a new life. It spreads, and soon we live in a better world than yesterday. This is true with many civil issues. Prejudice still runs strong in our communities, despite how many centuries we’ve been here as humanity. It’s undeniable how much hate and discrimination we see on the news and social media. However, this hate also begins with thoughts. These are thoughts that can be changed for the better. By changing yourself for acceptance, you can help others become accepting as well.

I am also a victim of discrimination. As a gay and transgender man, I face several hardships every day that have affected my state of being. I see the many faces of the topic: those who are accepting, those who don’t quite understand, and those who are aggressively against my existence, and all in between. I used to just hope that whoever I met was accepting so I could avoid conflict. Now, however, I am trying to see from other points of view. I understand that some people may have never met anyone from the LGBTQ community, so this may be the first time they meet someone like me. I can use this opportunity to explain and help them understand the similarities and differences between us and spread positivity. This is how change begins. By learning that not everyone will be understanding in the beginning, I can help change society from being prejudice against anyone part of the LGBTQ community to accepting us for who we are.

No two people are the same. And so, there will be misunderstandings and conflicts. I have realized that I would not have made it as far as I did without my allies. Most of my family members, for instance, are allies, as they are accepting and supportive despite not being LGBTQ. They don’t fully understand the experience, but that’s okay. They understand that we are all unique and full of our own potential. This positivity is what I strive for the world to achieve. I may only be one person, and I may not be able to completely convey my experiences to others, but I can still make a difference. I understand that no one is the same, meaning we are all unique in our identities and experiences, but it also means that there are people who have never experienced discrimination like I have. And so, I can spread the message of equality and help everyone understand that being LGBTQ is nothing to be ashamed of. I can help people understand that we all lead different lives, but that doesn’t make any one of us worse than the other. I can help people by willing to talk about these issues and offer my words. One explanation can lead to a change of mind, and soon enough, a change in the world.