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December 1997

"Will I?"

As I sit here writing this, my school's paper is being prepared for print next week. Normally, I'm sure most people wouldn't care about this, but I have two articles in this issue. One, a stupid interview that I did with one of the new teachers, is on the front page. I don't think it deserves front page, but it's still there. The other, an article that no one outside of a select few may ever know that I wrote, is in the editorial section. This article may be the start of big changes at my school: it's an article about my school's gay community, or rather, the lack thereof. I wrote the article under a pen name to, of course, protect my identity, since there are absolutely no openly gay students at my school. The main idea of the article is the fact that, although gay students are not vocal at my school, we're still there, and deserve to be treated as such, and that the administration, faculty, and students should strive to make the school a better place for everyone, not just the people who are considered "normal."

You see, in my town, you are either Irish or Italian or a little bit of both, Catholic or Protestant, white, straight, not too intelligent and play at least two sports. If you don't fall into these standards, then you're not considered "normal," and are open to ridicule. Of course, this is not fair, but such is life.

I wrote the article with a sincere hope of it being printed. I'll admit that I did have my doubts about it being printed, since my town is so insular (my mother is a prime example of a typical citizen of the town), but, quite unbelievably, it is going to be published. Hopefully, it will cause the change that I want, but I know that it will cause a lot of trouble, which I have anticipated as well. I know, because of the 7th grade incident, that I will be a prime suspect for writing the article (some people just don't know how to leave things alone). I thought long and hard about this before I wrote the article, but I decided that any trouble I encounter now, will be worthwhile down the road.

So, as I said, my school's paper will be printed next week, with two articles by me in it.

~~tony orrymain@geocities.com

For anyone interested, here is my article:

"Will I lose my dignity?
Will some one care?
Will I wake tomorrow
From this nightmare?"

by "James" [my pen name]

These four lines, as unfortunate as it is, sum up my life quite well. You see, each day I fear losing my dignity, I hope that one more person will care about the situation I'm in, and I pray that I will, one day, wake up and find all my troubles are gone. Though, I realize that the latter of the three is a bit unrealistic (problems never just "go away"), I think that the other two are realistic hopes, or so I like to believe. I'm sure, by now, that you are all wondering what my problem is; it really isn't a problem for me, it's a problem for a majority of the rest of the world: I am part of a specific 10% of the population, I am part of a group which accounts for 30% of all teenage suicides, I am gay.

Yes, that's right, I'm gay, and here at [my school], as in the rest of the world, I am part of a minority. A minority which is too often over-looked, forgotten, and much too often the victim of unfair and undue harassment and prejudice. Gay students at [my school], though not visible, are there, and are discriminated against every day through biased comments, taunts, or even outright harassment. If a black student at [my school] were to be called a "nigger" or some other similar racial slur, action would be taken immediately: the offender would most likely receive severe punishment, there would probably be some kind of public apology to the victim, and there may even be some kind of school-wide assembly about racial prejudices. Yet, as I have stated, every day derogatory comments are made about gay students and nothing is done! I do now know of a case of any student being punished for calling someone a "fag" or for saying something is "gay", but students do it every day. Every single day, at least once, I hear a student say that something is "gay". The student may not realize what he is doing, but he is making a derogatory comment about anyone who is gay. I realize that the word has become slang for something that is considered stupid or pointless, but that still does not make it proper for use in that context.

So, what is it I'm saying? I am simply saying that [my school] is a very closed school: homosexuality is never discussed in the class room, except maybe in sex-ed (when it is only briefly touched upon). I am not, however, advocating that entire courses should be written with homosexuality as the main topic: I see no point in that myself. What I am advocating, is that [my school], the administration, the faculty, and the students, should heighten their awareness of homosexuality as a natural part of life: a part of life that they will most likely have to deal with for the rest of their own lives. The administration should strive to make [my school] a more welcoming place for gay students. Faculty members should not allow any derogatory comments to be made in their classrooms. I have had more than one teacher make the statement that they don't allow derogatory comments to be used in their classrooms, but it is not usually enforced when the derogatory comment concerns a gay student, or, rather, a student who is presumed gay. As for the students of [my school], they too, should not allow derogatory comments to made about gay students: it is quite simply not fair.

So, as I said before, I am advocating a change at [my school]; nothing drastic, just some common sense. A little common sense can and will go a long way towards making this world a better place, and then maybe, just maybe, one day I will wake from this nightmare.

[About the Author]


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