Halloween is almost here! It is by far my favorite holiday. It’s the one time of the year that we can be someone completely different than our everyday selves and no one judges you. If you’re like me, you spend months preparing your costume, making sure that this year’s Halloween look is better than the last. But sometimes, there is a beauty in the simplicity of a costume.
I am a huge fan of the ghost costume that consists of an old sheet with two holes cut out for eyes. It is easy, but more importantly, it is cheap! It doesn’t take much effort to become a ghost for Halloween. In fact, some of us are already ghosts at other times during the year, not because we are dressed in a holey sheet, but because other people refuse to see us.
I enjoy hanging out with gentlemen who are older than I am. One of my best friends is 60 years old. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful our conversations are simply because of the differences, not only in our age, but our race, religious background, and places of birth. One of our last conversations shed a familiar light on an uncomfortable realization. As we celebrated the end of a workweek at a local bar with our favorite vodka sodas with a splash of cranberry, we begin to discuss how he feels invisible as an older gentleman in today’s gay society.
Although I never thought of my friend as invisible, our conversation did help me to realize that I sometimes make other people “ghosts”. How many times have I completely ignored people who I’m not physically or emotionally interested in? People will message me on Facebook Messenger with a simple compliment and instead of being appreciative of their boldness and sincerity, I typically don’t respond. I could give a plethora of reasons for my lack of communication that would make me sound good, but in all honesty, it’s the lack of attraction. I have never considered the emotional damage that a simple rejection may have caused to the person on the other side of Messenger.
Our conversation led me to think about times where I may have related as a “ghost”. I’m a black man living in a predominantly white, gay New Orleans. The segregation that still exists within our gay community is obvious when you pay attention, but that is a topic for another article. I’ve been overlooked and ignored similar to my friend mentioned above. Despite the reasoning behind it, it doesn’t make me feel good. Shame on me for any time I have made someone feel a similar way.
The term “ghosting” is one that is used a lot these days. According to Urban Dictionary, my source for all new phrases that keep me abreast of the terminology of the younger generations, ghosting is “when a person cuts off all communication with their friends or the person they’re dating, with zero warning or notice beforehand”.
I have been both the perpetrator, shamefully, and the victim of ghosting situations. As the one who “ghosts”, I felt like I was above the other person but as the one who was “ghosted”, I experienced feelings of being degraded. My mind began to be plagued with ideas that I was not worthy of a conversation or explanation to why things would not work between myself and a love interest. Don’t get me wrong, people shouldn’t have to communicate with people who are insulting or threatening. There are some moments when I believe “ghosting” is appropriate, but I think for most cases, we may need to communicate more.
Let’s work harder to pull the sheet off of those whom we make to feel invisible.
We need to consider the age-old lesson “treat others the way that you want to be treated”. One day, we may be the older ladies and gentlemen at the bars who are having our own problems with invisibility. A smile or a hello can go a long way.
We need to eliminate the stigma that is associated with couples who experience an age difference.
We preach that “love is love” but we need to start living it!
Finally, if you aren’t interested in a person, don’t ignore them. Have the respect to tell them that you’re flattered, but not interested. Kindness is always a choice. Let’s start making it a habit.