The definition of nonconformity from Merrill Webster dictionary is as follows: “refusal to conform to an established or conventional creed, rule, or practice.”
This word, and its definition, have come to define us as a generation. Nonconformity is who we are and who we are becoming.
In recent events, we have seen the survivors of the Parkland shooting and students all across America refusing to conform to the established gun laws in place. This generation is stepping up to the plate politically, and is inserting its growing power into the government already. Our strength comes from our refusal to conform and accept the conventions handed to us from older generations. When we see each other being killed, we are standing up and fighting against it in a way so strong that real political change is in the works. The President, alongside other political leaders, have hosted sessions to understand why our generation isn’t confirming to gun laws, to understand why our generation refuses to submit, even in the face of powerful organizations like the NRA. In our refusal to conform we have found strength that was unknown to us before, and that is the power of our generation.
Another way we have refused to conform is by shedding light on gender and sexuality. Recognizing gender as a spectrum and being more tolerant of genders outside the binary is how our generation refuses again to accept common practice. Many of us are learning to use pronouns correctly and the addition of the pronouns, “they, them, and theirs” to address those who don’t use traditional female and male pronouns. Many of the older generation is dismissive of the gender spectrum, claiming that “you’re a he or a she!”, however, our generation is refusing this idea, and instead we are being more accepting and eager to learn than any generation before us. Within sexuality and the entire realm of the LGBTQ+ community, we have seen more understanding and real change than ever before. Thanks to our stubbornness and how resolute we stand in our beliefs, our nonconformity has created tangible differences in marginalized groups such as this.
The term unity refers to “a totality of related parts : an entity that is a complex or systematic whole.”
Interestingly, unity and nonconformity are not as opposite as they may seem. Our generation, the same one that refuses to conform, also stands unified in every way we can.
Let’s look back at the Parkland survivors. While their school of just a few thousand people was targeted by a shooter, the uproar came from millions. Multiple school walkouts across the country were held, and it takes no time at all to find thousands of tweets that use the hashtags of the movement. In our schools and on social media, our generation has unified around Parkland to aid in the fight for gun law reform.
Back to queer folk, our generation sticks up for each other, no matter who that “other” identifies as or is attracted to. Having the backs of our neighbors is commonplace for us, and the LGBTQ+ community is not left out of this. While there is always room for growth and undeniable problems in the queer community, we’ve come a long way, and we’ve done so together. Our unity has changed how society views sexuality, and made the queer experience just a bit better, with constant improvements and education.
While all this is great, it might still be unclear how nonconformity and unity really connect.
For gun law reform, we applied nonconformity in that we refused the laws society prescribed us. How was this done? We united to create an impact that the world would feel. Without unity, nonconformity is useless, and without nonconformity, unity has no cause.
For sexuality and gender, we utilized nonconformity by acknowledging the gender spectrum and different sexualites. Through unity, we accepted these ideas, and created a community for LGBTQ+ people to begin to feel more safe in. Without unity, the community would have remained in the dark. Without nonconformity, the ideas would never have been introduced.
In this manner, we see how our generation is reliant on the two concepts: nonconformity and unity. We use them in unison to achieve our goals. In this modern age, changes will keep being made and progress will continue. Our generation is so powerful, and as we grow, so will our influence.