Chris O'Leary

June 1998

Well, it took long enough, but it finally happened. Our school's Gay-Straight Alliance had its first meeting. Five people showed up. One was straight. One was male. One was bisexual. One was a junior. Well, I fit the male and junior thing... I was certainly in a minority, which didn't surprise me. Nobody at my school wants to come out in the environment we're in... particuarly not a male. Luckily, I had the popularity, so it didn't really scar people's opinions of me. In fact, I ALMOST won the re-election of the class vice presidency.

A year ago, I told my friend, "I have a secret to tell you..." but I said that I wouldn't tell her until the day after elections this year. Little did I know that she would find out sooner. A LOT sooner. In fact, just two weeks after I said that, she "heard it through the grapevine." I told her that I would wait until AFTER elections because I was afraid nobody would vote for a gay guy. I guess there ARE some bright people who understand that being gay doesn't make you a horrible person. But there are also some others that are so far cut off from the rest of the class that they don't know I'm gay. And those would be the ones that wouldn't vote for me because of my sexuality. Truthfully, the only reason I lost was because 90 people in my class didn't show up for school for the elections that day, so I ended up losing. But now that it's over, I guess it's not going to hurt me to come out to whoever I damn well please. Which is a good thing, since I don't think I could've held it in any longer.

Back to the GSA meeting... although it was a small group, it went fairly well. We ate some food, talked about plans, and talked, for some odd reason, about all these gay characters on television shows. (Ellen, the mail guy on Suddenly Susan, the gay dog episode of South Park, and the episode of The Simpsons with the gay antique store owner) We also mentioned how homophobic THEY seem to think the school is. The problem is, most of the other people were in the clique that I mentioned in last month's column... the "alterna-folk" that either choose to be gay to be alternative, or choose to be alternative because they're gay. They're not really in touch with the clique that I hang around with, and they seem to be okay with it.

I also had quite an interesting experience in health class. In health class, everyone from every maturity and intelligence level is stuffed into one class. This can cause quite a confrontation when it comes to ideas and beliefs. We had an assignment in class to make a list of things that cause stress in our lives. Two of the idiots in the class put down "gays." Why? Well, they said that it bothered them when another guy found them attractive, and continuously hit on them... trying to get their phone numbers. At first, I thought they were just more homophobes, but then, as they got further into the details of this guy and what he went through, it made me wonder: what the hell is wrong with some guys? No means no! Straight means straight! If someone says they're straight, don't hit on them! I'm really cautious about things, so I rarely ever flirt. And when I do, it's only with someone that I KNOW is gay. I don't just flirt with some random guy whose sexuality I don't know. Maybe not every guy is that way, but I certainly wish more gay guys WERE that way. Maybe some people think they'll never meet anyone unless they take that chance. I'm not taking that chance... I could come across a flamy homophobe, and bang... I'm on the ground, in pain, with a black eye or a bloody nose. It's happened before, and it'll happen again.

My health teacher, however, took offense to that, and the statement from someone that I THOUGHT would be open-minded that people choose to be gay and they can change. She jumped on that and gave three or four examples and facts to back up what she believed. She said that she had one gay friend who married and had children before he realized that he was gay... because he was trying to cover it up and "go the other way" for the longest time. She acted like a militant lesbian or something. (She's not, though... she's been married and divorced, and she's got a fiancé... but very open-minded) I was impressed with these things. But, I kept quiet throughout this whole debate... I didn't want to seem like I was pressing my opinion on everyone, and there were still a few people in that class that didn't know I was gay. I wanted to keep it that way. The only thing I said throughout this whole thing was a stressor in my life: "ignorance." And that was after we had been through the entire debate.

After class, I was about to leave the room, and she called me over to talk with her. "I'm just trying my best to make you feel comfortable. I like to press an opinion like that. You're always going to come across closed-minded people like them. But hopefully, they'll grow up, and they'll realize that what they said was wrong. Or maybe they won't, and everyone has to deal with their ignorance. I'm trying to keep that from happening by talking like that. I hope I didn't make you feel uncomfortable by bringing up an issue that hit close to home." I was shocked. She KNOWS that I'm gay. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that... since she is so open-minded. I wish every teacher was more open to saying things like that.

Anyway, summer is quickly approaching. Next time I need to write a column, school will be over with. I can't believe that it's THAT soon. Summer means a new beginning for me... a new job, a new source of income, a new way to get associated with other gay people. This will be my first summer of being openly gay (with the exception of my dad, but he's at work every day, anyway), so I'll be able to make connections. But I'll just have to wait and see how things work out as I get closer to the summer... and I'll share my plans with you next month.

By the way, be sure to visit my page... it was chosen as the Getting Real site of the week a couple of weeks back. Ooh, my page is award-winning... I'm flattered. And, always feel free to e-mail me. I changed my address, so no matter where I am, you'll always be able to get in touch with me. See you next month!

Chris O'Leary

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