I attribute so many of the incredible things I've done in my life to my career. I have been in a follow vehicle covering the leaders of the Boston Marathon so closely I could feel their sweat. I’ve documented then faceless women heading into labor, and left the delivery room hours later holding mother and child dear to my heart. I’ve worn Olympic Gold Medals and precious jewels worth more money than I’ll earn in my lifetime. Hell, I’ve even met Jessica Simpson.
Still, some of my most valuable experiences are those way less tangible.
Several years ago I worked on a show that had me traveling in and out of a small American city to cover a group of teenagers periodically throughout their school year. My camera operator and I followed them to school, athletic practices, birthday parties, spray tans and pedicures. Having spent countless hours in their homes and lives, we build relationships with these kids much stronger than expected. I felt like their big sister.
So after having heard one young woman refer to something as “so gay” for the hundredth time in interview, I chimed in. Immediately, I learned why the parents of teenagers struggle to relate to their kids during some of the most difficult but important conversations.
“Have you ever met a gay person?” I asked. She said no, which I found shocking, seeing as I could have easily pointed out half a dozen homosexual students in the halls of the high school she roamed daily.
More powerful for me, though, was the fact that our cameraman- the one rolling on this current conversation in addition to dozens of others- was gay. I wondered how he felt in that moment, so much so that I wanted him to slip into the hot seat.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe that every homosexual man or woman wears a brand on their forehead labeling them as such, nor should they. Our freedom to love (and marry) whom we choose should be an individual, private, sacred and universally respected decision. But what I learned in that moment is too often it's ignorance that interferes with our decisions and behavior when it comes to premature or unfair judgment. Therefore, it becomes our responsibility to educate. If we don't, who will?
We live in one of the most technologically advanced societies on the globe. But when it comes down to it, our earth is made up of water, rock and soil. (Suddenly the expression "dumb as rocks" has more meaning than ever...)
Simply put, if you want the world to change, you’ve got to teach it to.