After knowing Kristen (KO thereafter), she has taught me a couple of lessons that I could take away from my study abroad program in Missouri.
1. It’s okay to be different.
2. It’s not only okay to be different but it’s also okay to embrace it.
3. Accepting it is not enough, you will need to live up to what you believe in, even if it means to be different.
So as not to repeat the story that I’ve done about her before, check out Kristen’s three-year battle with her horrible illness on MyMissourian website.
Back to the lessons that I learned from KO:
KO is the most open LGBT friend I’ve ever had, and I seriously do mean it. When I first got to know her at the start of the year, I was taken aback by her frankness in telling the whole class that she has a partner and her sexual preferences. My reaction was more of a cultural shock than anything else.
I know of friends who are homosexuals and have been together for many years. But their relationship are still hush-hush affairs that they keep from their families. They struggle to reconcile their sexual preferences with god, with new friends that they meet and even with their future together. As I watch them grow, I learn about their struggles to find their identity within Asian societies. People are less accepting in Asia of LGBT folks, especially so in Singapore where they have minimal level of rights protection.
For KO to tell everyone, including classmates that she met for the first time, she is a lesbian, was to me, liberating. As I got to know KO, I realized she was frank about most things that people are usually too embarrassed to talk about. She would tell anyone about her not having a large intestine or about her voluptuous boobs.
Her family members are also very supportive of her choices.
It has always been difficult to be different but with a dose of encouragement from your family and friends, KO made me realized that there is nothing wrong with being the odd one out. Perhaps it is because American societies are more liberal such that differences are more easily accepted. At the same time, it also takes a lot for you, as an individual, to wear your differences on your sleeve. You’ll be the one that sticks out, but also the one that others can remember best.
To KO: We must meet up before I leave!
7 thoughts on “Kristen Overmyer: Being different”
I cannot tell you how flattering it is to read this. It brought tears to my eyes. You are such an amazing and inspiring woman yourself, I hope you know this.
I am so sad you are leaving in just a couple weeks. I will HAVE to take you out on the town to enjoy a night of fun before you leave 🙂 Maybe to the gay bar in town to see a drag show and dancing?
You are the best.
JY, it’s so inspiring and true. OMG!! I have to post your lines to my fb page. 😀
Thank you! You should definitely read about KO’s story on her illness. It’s an even more touching story. I’ve posted the link up on the top of the post
The social norm on sexual preference has been there before any boys know about porn and girls fancy on their first love. I was shocked too when I heard friends in my dorm openly declared themselves to be gay. I do not have close friends who are LGBT, but I gradually learn from daily observation they are not that different from us. “They” are indeed part of “our” community that deserves respect.
I had a conversation with a friend of mine from LGBT about being different. If you look around, you’ll notice that many people vary different from yourself share similar interests, or have some kind of aspect that interests you. You shouldn’t “tolerate” peoples’ differences, but rather embrace them and get to know who they are for what they are, not what you think they should be.
By the way, did you notice that it’s very typical for me to wear white?
Agree, but I think the hardest part of being different tis to wear it on your sleeve. That’s being totally upfront about everything and it takes a lot of courage I would say.
BTW, I believe wearing white shirts in your case should have nothing to do with you being tolerant isn’t it?