Living on a lighted stage
Approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality
Beyond the gilded cage
Cast in this unlikely role,
Ill-equipped to act
With insufficient tact
One must put up barriers
To keep oneself intact
Being known isn't always such a great thing.
Having been a columnist for over two years now, I have gained a certain degree of name recognition around the world, both among my peers and with adults as well. I can't even try to speculate about why this is but I know it's true.
It's also difficult to deal with sometimes.
With name recognition comes the pressure to live up to expectations, and in my case, to make each column as good if not better than the one before it. To always set a good example, to do the right thing no matter what, to be all that is expected of me and more.
I have to say that it's flattering to have somebody take the time to write to me and offer compliments on what I have written, to ask for advice, or to even say that they feel or have felt the same way as me, which makes me feel as though I'm not alone in what I go through. I've been online and have had people tell me that they placed my screen name on their buddy list from the time I wrote my first column in hopes of having an opportunity to chat with me...which simply amazes me. It's these people who give me the encouragement I need to keep writing my columns, and without them I would have given up a long time ago.
On the flip side of this are the people who expect things out of me that I am not willing or able to provide, and when I don't give what is desired I become a target for their insults. Since my debut column appeared in June of 1997 I have had numerous requests for personal information such as where I live, what school I attend, my last name, and so on. I've had requests for not only normal pictures of me but for nude shots as well. One person even offered to mail me an instant camera and several packs of film so that my boyfriend and I could take nude pictures of each other and then mail back to him...as if we would actually even think about doing that in the first place. When I didn't reply to his first request he sent several others asking why I wouldn't do that for him? Some people never learn, do they?
Chat rooms are another territory where one never knows what they might step into. While I've had a number of great conversations in them and have met people I still keep in regular contact with, I've also had my share of unpleasant encounters. It seems than more than a fair share of young gays have the attitude that if you're not interested in cyber or phone sex then why are you even in a chat room? No nude self picture? Some people won't even talk to you unless you provide them with one.
Not exactly encouraging, is it?
With name recognition comes the risk of exposure, as I highlighted in my last issue's column, and as I recently encountered when a teacher at my school confronted me about my sexuality after he accidentally discovered that I write for Oasis. While both of these incidents ended up being positive experiences, maybe the next time it happens I won't be so lucky? Living in a homophobic town and going to a school where there's nothing worse than being gay are more than enough reasons for me to fear being outed.
My point in writing this column is to show that while being an Oasis columnist is an awesome experience, there is also another side to it. I'm not trying to scare anyone away from writing a column either, I just think you should know what can happen and that you'll take preventative measures if you decide to become a part of Oasis. Go ahead and write, just be careful.
While I always try to write to the best of my ability in each issue, I can only hope that you, my readers, will try to understand where I am coming from with whatever topic I take on and that you'll see me as I am.
Human just like you.
Ty is a fifteen-year-old who lives in a small suburb in the Midwest and will be a high school sophomore this coming fall. In his free time he likes to be with his family, play guitar in a heavy metal band, and ponder what his future will hold for him. He loves hearing from his readers, and be sure to say hello if you see him online.