July 1998

A Snapshot of This Town and Some of the Usual Rambling

By Tony

"Where do I put this fire?
This bright, red feeling
This tiger-lily down my mouth
He wants to grow to twenty feet tall"
From "Tiger" by Paula Cole


As usual, I'm writing this on deadline day. Procrastination should be my middle name. Anyway, I'm out of school for the summer, and I've been thinking...

I've been thinking about the town in which I live and it's small-town mind-set despite the fact that it has a population of roughly 20,000; not exactly a small town.

This town has NO diversity to speak of. This town has a very insular mind set. This town wouldn't be able to cope with any sort of diversity.

Let me give you a description of the "normal" student at my school: this student is not too smart, he plays a sport or two, he listens to the same music as the rest of his friends, he wears the same clothes as the rest of his friends, he doesn't read for pleasure (and probably hardly ever reads the assigned stuff for school), he goes out with his friends a lot and does whatever it is they do (I honestly don't know; I'd say get drunk but I could be wrong), and he, of course, believes everything that he has been spoon-fed since birth, he doesn't try to discover and understand things on his own, he waits for things to be handed to him (on a silver platter), he...well, you get the idea.

Let me give you a description of me, the "not so normal" student: I'm intelligent, I don't play any sports, I listen to some of the music that my friends listen to, but I'll listen to almost anything, I don't wear the same clothes that my friends do, I read for pleasure whenever I can, I go out with my friends a lot and do whatever it is we do (which includes the mall, the movies, hanging out in Boston), and I stopped blindly accepting everything that I have been spoon-fed from birth a long time ago, I try to discover and understand things on my own, and I don't wait for things to be handed to me (on a silver platter).

Yes, I'm different than the "normal" people in my town. And I'm proud to be different.

And now I come to my real point. Like I said, I've been thinking a lot lately. This is what I've thought:

I've thought that I don't want to have to worry about changing pronouns (i.e., I want to be able to say, "I saw the cutest guy at the mall," rather than, "I saw the cutest 'girl,'" clear my throat so the friends whom I'm out to will understand, "at the mall."), I don't want to have to worry about the reaction to my choice of dates to my senior prom (my boyfriend, if I ever find one), in short, I just want to not have to care about being gay.

But, I also want to live to see my high school graduation. I've got two more years to go. But I don't want those two years to be two more years in the closet. But there are too many variables to take into account. Maybe I should just go for it and ignore the consequences...but I'm not like that.

If I decided to declare myself totally and utterly out, I'm not going to make a big deal about it. I'm not going to run to the nearest television station, take it over and make a personal appearance to say "Hi. I'm gay." That's a bit drastic. I'll just consider myself to be out, and if it comes up in conversation then so be it; no need to announce it.

And, as usual, this is turning into some sort of insane rambling. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm in search of advice. I don't know what I should do at this point...I know what I want to do, but I don't know if it's really something feasible. I've given the background: my town is not a small town but it has a small town mentality...it doesn't handle "different" well...it fears what it doesn't understand...and I'm "different"...I'm what it doesn't understand...and therefore, what it fears...the town doesn't know this yet, but I don't want to hide it anymore.

So, in closing, I ask for advice on the subject. Think of this as a "Dear Abby" letter to the general public.

Until next month,


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