Sideways Glances: “I am a ONE”

Scrolling down my Facebook feed today, I came across the following preface – to a slightly longer post – from a good friend of mine:

“As someone who OFTEN gets sideways glances, or judgmental stares. And who hears whispers from people around me “quietly” making fun of me, or full on insulting me to my face for the way I dress/present myself to the world….”

The follow-up comments on that post bear witness to the support I, and others, have always shown toward this multi-talented individual. Respectfully, I have avoided the use of any specific pronoun, although I am confident he would not mind at all. For now, “Yogi” will suffice as a substitute until such time I garner permission from said individual … if necessary.

**UPDATE: permission granted. since original post**

Tony is a wonderful person. An individual. Tony is a ONE. I am so fortunate to cross creative, theatrical paths with this actor/singer/dancer in a number of shows in which I’ve been musically involved. We’ve remained casually good friends outside of the stage since our first experience together years ago … living quite different lives, but having that occasional, “hey, what’s up?” moment in a restaurant, on a sidewalk, or at a show. Always respectful. Always engaging. Always uniquely dressed.

Which is the point of Tony’s post.

I sincerely WISH I could post up multiple pictures of Tony. You’d enjoy the array of joy, fun, creativity, cleverness, and uniqueness he brings to YOUR life just in the viewing of same. What pleasure is brought forth from life itself.

Last week, as I glanced up for a moment from my enjoyable spoonfuls of comfort at a local eatery, I saw Tony swoosh by. We had a few minutes of casual conversation about a recent show he was in, talked about the production clips soon to be uploaded on FB, a few other matters, then went our separate ways….well, he exited and I continued on with my enjoyable lunch fare.

A few minutes carved out of our day. That’s all. Two individuals making time to have a one minute conversation – not giving two whiffs about what anyone else what thinking. I was (and am) a conservative, middle-aged, recently buzz haircut, non-tattooed, non-pierced, dressed in khakis, wearing a dress shirt, loafers, blazer, school lanyard with a magnetic key dangling at the end, piano playing guy. Tony? None of the above. So much none of the above. Pretty much anything you can think of not what was mentioned above. (Although, the “cool” factor very much alive in both our lives….) . Two “I am a ONE” people having an adult conversation. Period.

More to the point, why is judgement so important to people? I do judge. All the time. Probably the harshest critic is myself – to myself … and others at times. It truly is the human condition. We are born skeptics. We are genetically geared to not accept anything outside that which we are comfortable. Arguably, this is an inbred trait that has kept us alive and aware. We SHOULD question that which may be dangerous to our well-being. We SHOULD judge “nastiness” at our front door if our senses are heightened and danger seems imminent.

When a Tony appears, it is natural to glance and wonder, question, or, perhaps judge. The next step in the process is what some miss. It is the “filter” step … the “step-it-back” rung on the socially acceptable ladder.

Judge all you want. Be that person. I AM that person … less and less, over the years. I get over it pretty quick by asking and engaging, or moving on. These seem to me the only healthy options for everyone. Sometimes I see outfits and presentations I, simply, don’t understand. “Head-scratchers” to say the least. Just not my thing, BUT it’s THEIR thing. THAT’S the point.

Tony dresses for TONY!…And, I must say, it works. Most importantly, it works for TONY! Period. End of sentence.

So much can be accomplished by simply going up and saying, “Hi”. We don’t know the stories. Nobody knows. Pretending to know by insulting the Tonys doesn’t solve anything. The Tony I know is so super talented, yet, it happens often enough in his life to justify awareness on Facebook.

Tony isn’t going to change – THANKFULLY. We need more individuality and less conformity. More understanding and less judgement. More love and less hate…. and, definitely more silence – when warranted.

Please, don’t be the reason another Tony needs to post “sideways glances”. This person is a strong, talented individual. The next one may remain silent and suffer.

Thanks for listening and not judging my words.

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