For a moment, imagine: If you were trying to figure out if I am gay, and you had by chance seen my pride ring, tell me -- what is the question you would ask me? One friend of mine did an excellent job when she said, "Jed, you realize you hang around far too many gay guys." I replied with a very incriminating look, a show of the pride ring, and said, "With very good reason." She did an excellent job of opening the conversation. Some of my other close friends, trying to verify rumors, have come up with their own version of a supporting, yet introspective question.
However, those were all people I knew. What if you had just met me, or were just a fellow class member? For some unknown reason, the question I always get, don't ask me why, is "Where did you buy that ring?" Would someone out there, just one of the millions of people out there please tell me how I got so far behind in teenage slang!?!
Now what am I supposed to think when this happens? I have decided, that in the future, I should just politely reply, "Oh, I'm sorry -- Did you need one?"
But really, think about this. I know that "Aren't you dating a really cute guy?" means "Are you gay?" and that "Are you queer?" is a legitimate way of asking about my orientation, but I find it odd how it's not my orientation that makes me gay, but rather the ring. One classmate was asking if my father, holding a high position in my church, knew that I was gay, but instead of asking just that, he asked, "Does your father know about that... ring and stuff?" What do reparative therapists say, play sports and become straight? I have a better idea. They should just issue pride rings for someone to wear for a week. They could then take it off and be magically cured. I can see it now:
Homo's, fags, and queers alike, have we got a deal for you today! Are you in the closet, not wanting to accept the way things are in your life, or are you out of the closet and having second thoughts? Well then listen closely! Today we have a special ring guaranteed to straighten you out! It is.. *drumroll* The Pride Ring 2000!!
Discreetly hidden as a standard gay pride ring, it is yours today for the incredibly low price of 3 easy installments of $9999.99! Simply wear the ring for one week and within no time at all, you will be queer bashed into straightness. (Bashing service charged separately.)
Hurry and call in today. We only have 876,215,987,203 left and we don't expect them to last! When they are gone, they are all gone! This deal is hot, so call now.
In fact, we have received such great results with our new Pride Ring 2000 that for a limited time, while supplies last, we will throw in a free portfolio book, at no charge to you, The Beauty of the Nude Female.
With deals like this, you better call today! So pick up your phone and call us now at 1-800-NO-QUEER and order your anti-pride pride ring today!
Okay. I apologize. If anyone out there is trying to overcome your orientation, I feel for you, but best of luck. So in that regard, I hope I haven't offended. (But the fact that you are reading this is a good step.) If I have offended, write me a letter and tell me all the reasons I am wrong and then we can bible bash for a while but then become best of friends and do lunch.
I have to admit, society's inability to connect with the existence of my innate feelings has me often confused. I live in homophobic Salt Lake City, and I'd like to think I am a good person. I go to high school -- things are interesting. If you want, next month you can read all about my high school experiences. My point is about society's avoiding of ownership to the way we are.
I think that one of the main reasons that people ask me about the ring, instead of me, perhaps may be because they don't want to admit that I never made a choice about my orientation. According the mass population of Salt Lake, I have chosen one of the most perverse sins in the world. However, in the logical minds of humans, if they believed that I actually never made a choice, then it would be harder for them to believe that I am sinning. The commonly misunderstood scriptures speak about our commonly misunderstood feelings and between the two, you really can't blame my high school football team for not liking me that much.
So in order to change their views, we have to break down the walls that are obstructing their sight. When I came out at school, it caused a lot of people to stop and re-evaluate their perspectives. The people I admire the most, are those who actually don't approve of my orientation, but accept me anyway. I can simulate in my mind how they must feel, and it takes a lost of maturity, something the average American high school lacks, to be that loving.
I personally don't believe that breaking into my school and painting all the lockers in 6 different colors is the right way to go about things, but I know people who do. I think that if I show a good example, I can show people who I am, how I live, my emotional, physical, and spiritual convictions. I can show them about our love, and about the innate good in every person, and that I am not stereotypical. Well... not very.
Jed is a Senior at Olympus High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Ahhhh!!!) Besides introducing the general populace to conservative liberalism, and trying show people a path to religious reconciliation, he is enjoying the arts department at school with his involvement in Mame, the school musical, as Lindsay Woolsey, and as a member of Vocal Ensemble. Any comments, critiques, advice, or questions on his debut article should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and all letters from angry football players who are denying the way they feel, (Something has to be up if they are reading Oasis) should reply at email@example.com.