Where has all the time gone?
Almost exactly one year ago I wrote, over a period of several weeks and with numerous rewrites, what became my debut column and sent it in, not even sure it would be accepted. When I first saw the June 1997 issue online with my debut column posted, I was ecstatic beyond words. Something I had worked on for so long was actually going to be a part of something special! Back then I had no idea that my columns would become so heavily analyzed and critiqued, or that my identity would even be questioned, or that I would even be a columnist a year later. I didn't think anyone would actually care about what I had to say, or that anyone would turn to me for advice. I didn't even know what I'd write about in my second column!
Things sure have changed.
Here I am a year later, an established columnist nonetheless, and what I write is being read by people all over the world. If someone had told me that a year ago I would have been rolling on the floor laughing! Somebody an ocean away reading what I wrote, you've got to be kidding me? My columns being read in countries where English is not the official language...no way!
Over the past year I've heard from people all over the world, and they have told me that what I write has made an impression on them, that it has made them think. Adults have remarked that my writing has even changed the way they think about teenagers. Sometimes I have to pinch myself and wonder just what have I done?
While I may have struck a chord with some, I have also struck a nerve with others. In the past year I have attained the dubious distinction of being the most criticized and loathed columnist in Oasis history, and yet I still continue to write. The easiest thing for me to do would have been to just throw my hands up into the air and quit when the heat was turned up on me, but what kind of message would that send to Oasis readers? Is that what we should be expected to do when we are challenged, to just give up and run off with our heads down and our tails between our legs?
Kids have always been ranked as second class citizens by many adults, and even the word minor means "trivial" or "insignificant". Are we, the future of mankind itself, trivial and insignificant? Should those of us that are not heterosexual be excluded from playing a role in the future? There are plenty of people who would just love for us to disappear, but it's not going to happen! As a fourteen-year-old bisexual, I'm a slap in the face to those who feel I shouldn't exist. I'm a hitch in the well-oiled machinery that is the heterosexual mainstream of society, and I'm not going away. Nor are the rest of us. You can deny us, criticize us, and even hate us, but we're still going to be here, and our ranks are growing larger every single day!
In some ways I have become the unofficial whipping boy of Oasis, the one to point the finger of blame at when something's wrong, and that is not only wrong, it's also very detrimental to the future of Oasis. I've been blamed for taking attention away from other columnists, but think about it, how much say do I have when it comes to who reads which columns? None. It's the reader that ultimately makes that decision, not I or any other columnist for that matter. There are no flashing lights or bells and whistles above my header on the Featured Columns page, so nobody can say I am given special treatment, and due to the alphabetical arrangement of the columns I'm at the bottom of the page anyway. You have to scroll down it to even find my column! I also have no say in what anybody else writes, and while I have shared my columns with certain people prior to publication, this will soon cease.
I have never felt that my columns are better than any of the others, or that I should receive any more attention than the others. We all write freely with our own unique voices, and to try and compare us is ridiculous. My goal is to simply write each column to the best of my ability, and sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don't. I've rewritten entire columns at the eleventh hour because I just wasn't satisfied with the end result and since what I write is as permanent as any Web site can possibly be, I have to take that into consideration before anything is submitted. I feel that this is a reasonable rule of thumb for all Oasis writers to use. I'm not a part of now and don't ever wish to be a part of any "competition" between my fellow columnists.
At times I've had people write to me and say that they only read my column, and the standard response I give is that they should read all of the columns. Granted, someone around my age will probably be drawn to the columns by authors of the same age group, and I think that's normal, but at the same time I feel they're doing themselves a huge disservice by not even giving the other writer's viewpoints a chance. You may or may not like what you read in all of the columns, but they deserve to be read too, and you just might learn something new from them. I've read every column from every issue, and I'll continue to do so in the future.
During the past year I have been rather blunt about how I feel about certain issues, and in future columns I'm sure I'll be the same, but maybe with a little more tact? Writing this column has been a incredible learning experience for me, and I feel that I have learned more about how the gay society -- or is it subculture? -- operates than I would have by not tossing my two cents worth in with my columns. I had a rude awakening of just how much of a clique our so-called "open-minded" community can be, and I'm willing to go against the grain to try and show others that it doesn't have to be that way, that you truly can break free from the pack instead of having the pack break you.
I'm the antithesis of the image that our community would like us to portray, the type that doesn't buy into the "popular" notions but instead spits them out like a sour grape, preferring to blaze my own trail instead. We are encouraged to do just about anything possible to make ourselves noticed, no matter how rude. Shove your sexuality into everyone's face, somebody will approve for sure. Wear the wildest clothes you can, but make sure you have the right label on them. Be cool, buy this. Where does it ever end?
If any of you ever saw what I looked like you'd probably snicker and say to yourself, "No (expletive) way!" or "That's what Ty looks like?". It's true, I don't fit the popular perception of what a bisexual fourteen-year-old looks like, but then again what does, or better yet, what should a bisexual fourteen-year-old look like?
Like a fourteen-year-old.
I'm the kind of guy that doesn't get noticed, the kid that blends well into the crowd. The kind that people hardly pay any attention to, and you know what, I like it that way. Since I'm vertically challenged it seems that most people think I'm ten rather than fourteen, and because I look younger than I really am how many people are even going to suspect that I'm a bisexual, much less sexually active? I'm just a normal kid by outward appearances, but all of you know that there's more to me than what meets the eye.
Last month I was chatting with someone who remarked that they hoped I didn't look like a straight boy...as if a "straight" boy automatically looks a certain way. If I decided to send a picture of me along with a brief bio to XY magazine it would probably be rejected because I don't fit the popular non-heterosexual "image" that they often present. The hidden message is be whatever your are, but walk this way, dress this way, talk this way. Heck, if there was a under 21 gay club near me and I went to it I bet most people wouldn't give me the time of day because I'm just your average guy. Outside of school (I wear a uniform there) I dress in just shorts and T-shirts, and if it's chilly outside I throw on a flannel shirt. Nothing special, nothing fancy...in fact my own Dad calls my fashion tastes "generic". That's fine with me, because I like how I dress, and it sure hasn't affected how Anna or Eric think of me. Nor does it make me any less a bisexual.
Those of you who spend time trying to figure out who's lesbigay and who isn't may want to think about this simple rule of thumb: The ones you never would suspect may very well be the ones you should suspect.
Just like me.