Let people grow.
When I was younger I was very right-wing. I mean…very right-wing. I won’t go into detail, because I’m very deeply ashamed of it, but whatever you’re imagining, it’s probably at least that bad. I’ve taken out a lot of pain on others; I’ve acted in ignorance and waved hate like a flag; I’ve said and did things that hurt a lot of people.
There are artefacts of my past selves online – some of which I’ve locked down and keep around to remind me of my past sins, some of which I’ve scrubbed out, some of which are out of my grasp. If I were ever to become famous, people could find shit on me that would turn your stomach.
But that’s not me anymore. I’ve learned so much in the last ten years. I’ve become more open to seeing things through others’ eyes, and reforged my anger to turn on those who harm others rather than on those who simply want to exist. I’ve learned patience and compassion. I’ve learned how to recognise my privileges and listen to others’ perspectives. I’ve learned to stand up for others, how to hear, how to help, how to correct myself. And I learned some startling shit about myself along the way – with all due irony, some of the things I used to lash out at others for are intrinsic parts of myself.
You wouldn’t know what I am now from what I was then. You wouldn’t know what I was then from what I am now.
It distresses me deeply to think of someone dredging up my dark, awful past and treating me as though that furiously hateful person is still me. It distresses me to see others dredging up the past for anyone who has made efforts to become a better person, out of some sick obsession with proving they’re “problematic.”
Purity culture tells you that once someone says or does something, they can never go back on it. That’s a goddamn lie. While it’s true that some remain unrepentant and never change their ways and continue to harm others, it’s important to allow everyone the chance to learn from their mistakes. Saying something ignorant isn’t murder. Please stop treating it that way. Let people grow.