Kenji Yoshino talked about covering individuality and how it is important to challenge it on Monday night at Elon University. Yoshino talked about the different ways disabled people, foreign people, and gay people are forced to cover their individuality. He told students to fight the urge to cover.
Yoshino, a gay, Japanese-American, said it took him a long time to accept and be open about the fact that he was gay. He said he tried to hide who he was after he was told to be a “homosexual professional” instead of a “professional homosexual.” However, he said he realized that he would rather not take the advice and just be himself.
He talked about gay rights their evolution throughout history. Yoshino said people originally tried to convert gay people to straight people. Then there was the “passing” trend of being gay, disabled, or a minority, and trying to hide it. Now, many people are openly gay, they are just told to cover it up.
Yoshino related the issue of covering to everyone in the audience. “Covering affects every person in this room,” Yoshino said, “It is not normal to be completely normal.”
Yoshino said the country has come far, because there is less discrimination now than there has been in the past. However, “the line has not been erased, it has simply moved over,” he said.
Yoshino said, “Ultimately, we need to challenge ourselves as communities.” He said for people to not always think of themselves as the target of covering demand, but also as the source for other people.
“If you are impacted negatively by a covering demand…I want to challenge you to ask whether or not that reason behind that demand is a legitimate one,” he said.