Sometimes when you think you have it bad, you never really know. Last week, I was complaining about a racist cop, about being oppressed in a free society. Today, I get an email about how one of my best friends had just heard that eight of his friends have been arrested, and are being beaten and starved for having gay pornography in their homes. Living in a country that won't tolerate homosexual behavior was their crime.
Oppression? I haven't even seen the tip of the iceberg.
As he described what had happened, the authorities bursting into their homes off a "suspicious activity" tip from their neighbors, it reminded me of what the Nazis did to the Jews, a scene directly out of "V for Vendetta"; only this wasn't history, this wasn't a movie, this was only days ago. Here. Now.
I kept visualizing the only images mainstream Hollywood has given me and in picturing the same things happening to a friend that I consider a brother, I couldn't hold it in any longer. I cried as he told me, cried as I asked for help from a human rights lawyer, as I explained the story to others, as I type this now.
At the end of the day, we debriefed on the progress we had tried to make and in talking about this he just kept saying, "I can't believe this is happening. This is a nightmare. There is no God."
I tried to lighten the mood by talking about some irrelevant, superficial topic. Maybe something we used to laugh about. We once had a 30 minute conversation where we would only read to each other the most obnoxious porn titles we had ever heard. I don't think I ever laughed so hard.
Now he had begun deleting his collection. "A life's work," he said. "Deleting each movie was like being forced to wear a mask, to hide who you really are." I found it strange how erasing pornography could be so symbolic of oppression, yet at the same time it made complete sense. It was almost inappropriately humorous.
I told him he should have one more go at it before he deleted the last ones. Maybe I would too and we could "masturbate in solidarity". After a quick laugh, he said that he just couldn't. He was too shook up. Maybe in a couple of days. "Only if you feel it's safe," I told him. I never thought I would be saying that about jerking off, but damn, I really meant it.
It was, as I kept repeating to him, pathetically comical. But I hope he got to laugh, if only for a moment, to forget how lost this world has become. And maybe, just maybe, squeeze out a smile from these obnoxious jokes we were being forced to make.