Bullying BLOG – Louis Van Amstel

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 I love this blog and it is so true.

“After what Sally Kerns said about gay people being more dangerous than terrorists, I felt the need to write a blog about labeling. I didn’t know that her statement would affect me so much, but it did, and I even cried while writing this.

I am writing this blog because I think it’s time for EVERYONE to become more vocal about equality. I am not just writing on behalf of myself, or the LGBTQ community, but on behalf of everyone because we are all different in some way, and everyone deserves a voice. I can’t let that statement be said without saying something in response- we all need to work together if we are going to get anywhere.

For many years growing up I was so judgmental and I would want to fight everything with fire. Maybe that was part of my being so competitive in my early twenties. Until I was 19 I was so quiet, never said a word, didn’t show any feeling that was what bullying did to me as a kid. No one never really knew what I was feeling. That’s hard to believe now, because I can’t stop talking…lol. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I somehow always want to support the underdog.

Not expressing what I was feeling all these years I guess is why I became a rebel as an adolescent and was very vocal about what I thought was right and wrong. Thank God for my dancing, at least I could get rid of all my anxiety growing up expressing myself through music, dance and movement.

As a person and a dancer I would always want to stand out, and be different. I would grow out my hair to a ponytail, wear provocative clothes, be in people’s faces, and push my opinion onto others.

I can’t say it didn’t work. After three-world championship titles, deciding to leave my home country for the U.S., producing a Broadway show etc. I can say being a rebel with a cause was successful. And yet somehow I didn’t feel that it satisfied me at all to be a rebel.

When I was given a book about spirituality called “Earth is Just a Learning School’ it struck a chord with me and a light bulb went off in my head. I started seeing the world through different eyes. I realized everyone has their own journey at their own pace and will have to learn their own lessons.

Learning there is no right or wrong way was such a nice revelation and felt so freeing. I became a nicer person to others and felt the need to help and support rather than expect or demand (or at least that’s what I’d like to think). It somehow gives you more energy for life and it enriches your soul. My mom always taught me ‘The more you give, the more you get’. It’s so true if you share your wealth of knowledge with others you get so much more in return. Even when it comes to business.

To go a lot more personal I was a big time labeler growing up in Amsterdam. I put everyone in a box. If a person would be drunk, I’d automatically label them as alcoholic. If a guy would wink at me, I’d call him gay. If someone had excess pounds I’d call him or her out as ‘The fat kid’. This is so contradicting, because I was bullied foremost for being fat as a kid myself. It didn’t matter to me, everyone in my book should have a label on their forehead. Was I wrong or what? I’m so glad I can look back now and say I’m not that person anymore. My way of thinking was absolutely ridiculous. Even though I had many reasons to have the attitude I had been accustomed to, there’s no excuse for being so judgmental of others or by putting people in a corner.

Over the years I’ve learned so many great life lessons, one of the biggest lesson was that fighting fire with fire doesn’t get you anywhere. It only makes things worse. Starting to see things from the other person’s perspective brought out sympathy and the need to support rather than put a label on them. By understanding someone’s story even though you might disagree or not understand, you can respect ones choices and maybe even learn a lesson yourself. You learn more by listening than talking. By becoming more aware of other people’s life issues you can truly affect and help them by simply not judging, but showing support.

Many times we don’t have all the details of why certain people make certain decisions. Instead of judging and turning my back on those people, because I disagreed, I learned it’s so much more satisfying when I listened to their story and tried to help, rather than tell them what they’re doing is wrong. Accepting someone for who they are is truly freeing.

The media loves to label as well and we find the tabloids very entertaining. We love reading gossip about celebrities. Not knowing all the real details, we label them as irresponsible, slutty, stupid, cheap, fat, skinny, ugly, old etc. We love to label, but have we ever wondered how hurtful it is when you’re wrongfully accusing people of something!? Even if someone deserves something bad, you don’t have to add fuel to the fire. Karma is a bitch, so don’t worry. Life will take care of them.

I know my close friends Denise Richards, Lisa Rinna, Kelly Osbourne, Niecy Nash, Margaret Cho, Kendra Wilkinson, Kirstie Alley, as well as all the amazing equal opportunity organizations such as the NoH8 Campaign, GLAAD, GLSTEN, Human Rights Campaign share my view that we should all stop labeling  because it is so short sighted and the root of bullying.

Labeling is so unnecessary and there’s no good reason why we should. Each and every person on this planet has so many labels anyway. Not one label defines who we are. I’ll start a list of labels and you can add on yourself.

Tall, short, skinny, fat, white, black, slant eye, straight, gay, bi, Catholic, Mormon, trans gender, red head, albino, Jehovah witness, Muslim, nerd, geek, four eyes, old, young, dummy, Jew, ugly, freckle face, cheese head,  etc.

In many eyes I am, short, skinny, white, gay, and probably many more labels. None of these define who I am. What defines me is my work ethic, integrity, loyalty to friends, spirituality of life and that I constantly work on improving myself as a person. Every other label is not important. Life is work, if we spend more time working on ourselves we would all be better people.

I’m sure you can continue this list for days. We all have bullied or have been bullied in some way. Wars are fought over religious labels. It’s all about who’s right and who’s wrong. Let’s change that by trying to understand the other one’s decisions and if we don’t agree let’s not fight fire with fire. If it doesn’t hurt you, why would you want someone else to sacrifice their life just because you don’t believe? I know it’s not easy, but it’s so much more rewarding in the long run to accept someone we don’t understand than the guilt you’ll feel if you made someone unhappy because you wouldn’t accept them. Not one person owns this planet, we are all here to learn our lessons and become more aware of things that really matter. You and I. Us. We. Together. All for one, one for all.  If  you believe in reincarnation you know exactly what I mean. Let’s build some good Karma!

 

Xoxo Louis

About Louis VanAmstel

Louis Van Amstel is a twelve-time dance champion, Emmy-nominated choreographer and consummate professional, Louis Van Amstel may be best known for his five stunning turns on the hit ABC show Dancing with the Stars.After a lifetime of perfecting his craft, Louis continues to lace up his dancing shoes while sharing his passion for dance with the rest of the world. He has been a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance, and also trained many of the current pros on Dancing with the Stars. He also has a great dancing-exercise program for everyday people called LaBlast. www.DancingwithLouis.com