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Paul Pellerito

September 1997

No Fear

Hello everyone... just thought I'd drop in and let everyone know what's going on.

I've already started school by the time you're reading this, and I've decided to come out a little more. There's a "static cling" rainbow flag on the back window of my truck, right next to the "No Fear" sticker someone put there. I guess it goes with my philosophy right now, No Fear: Proud to be queer.

It all started on a warm July night. I was sitting in our local "family" coffeehouse, reflecting on how far I've come with accepting my sexuality. All my close friends know. My mother's known for over a year, and she's very cool with it. I'm an active member of PFLAG, and I have lots of gay friends around the city. The only thing that was missing was someone else from my school that's gay. That's when I really weighed my options. That night I made a few decisions.

I "came out" on my homepage recently, or rather I no longer mention that I am merely a 'friend' of gay people, it now says that I am one of 'them.' I've also decided not to hide who I am anymore, when someone asks I'll give them the honest answer. I've reached these decisions because I can no longer be hurt by people simply for being gay. Everyone who is important to me knows of my sexual orientation, so the only people left are those who either don't need or want to know and won't ask, those who want to hurt me, and those who could use my support.

Those who don't want to know never will, even if they read the black and white on my homepage that says so, they won't accept that fact, they won't deal with it, and that's fine for me. Being a part of my life means being willing to deal with all the parts of me. I do that for my friends and I expect nothing less in exchange. As Harvey Fierstein put it in "Torch Song Trilogy", the only thing I demand from people in my life is love and respect, and those who don't give it to me have no reason to be in my life.

Those who want to hurt me cannot, because I am supported by those I love, reinforced by my pride, and strengthened by my community. I have several close gay friends, and I love them all. I have several close friends from my school that also support me. With these two groups of friends *and* with the love and support from my mother I feel impermeable to other people's hateful ignorance. I also have a community behind me, a city full of buildings adorned with rainbow flags, cars with rainbow stickers, and gay owned businesses. We're in Grand Rapids, the second largest city in Michigan. None of us should hide. I certainly won't anymore.

Those who need my support need me to be honest now more than ever. There are 1,450 people in my school... by statistics alone there should be at least 130 gay people. I know there are more. None of them are out at school. Someone has to be. I've waited for three years for someone to come out, and perhaps it's time for our school to have a 'token gay student' and perhaps I'm the one to do it.

I come armed with the love and support of my friends, my family, and my community. My biggest weapon is the knowledge that I'm helping other people.

So, wish me luck, and don't forget: the future is in our hands. See you next month.


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