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Saturday, May 12, 2012

From the wayback machine

Other bloggers occasionally like to dig up something they wrote years ago and share it again, either for nostalgia's sake or because it has become relevant again, or both. I'm going to do that today, only I'm going super old school on you. High school, that is.

Apologies for the fuzziness-- I need a real scanner.
I'm not sharing this because it's an especially good bit of writing-- it isn't. I'm sharing it because of the date and the location. Wichita, Kansas, November of 1994. Publishing this in the school paper got me a certain amount of retaliation-- a rapid-fire rumor spread that I wrote it as a way of coming out myself, and the word "DYKE" was scrawled in big red letters on the wall of my storage cubbyhole in the journalism office. But I didn't encounter any open resistance from the staff about the legitimacy of writing on this topic, and certainly not from our journalism teacher Pam Koeller or anyone in administration. We started a gay-straight alliance club in that same year, again with no resistance from anyone in authority that I recall, and with the gracious sponsorship of biology teacher Sherri Schaake (both Koeller and Schaake, it should come as no surprise, were excellent teachers in addition to being so open-minded).

Considering the current environment in the U.S. midwest when it comes to LGBT issues in 2012, I am forced to come to one of two conclusions. Either it is the case that
  1. A large scale back-sliding has been taking place, and a progressive attitude that was once prevalent has now diminished, or
  2. There are significant pockets of progressiveness in what are commonly considered to be thoroughly red states which make it unfair, or at least very hasty, to dismiss them as generally hostile to LGBT interests.
I suppose it's also possible that the high school I attended was just a remarkable exception, but it wasn't some kind of haven of gay-friendliness. The GSA club was started in the first place in part because openly gay or "gay-seeming" students could expect to be bullied at any free period such as lunch or breaks between class, and we wanted to create a safe place in order to just hang out and talk. 

And yet. And yet, there has been a rash of bullying of gays that has led to several suicides in the past few years. Elsewhere in the midwest, in 2012, we have stories like this. It really does baffle me sometimes.

2 comments:

  1. I am in my early 60s. I recall the tensions during the Civil Rights movement; opinions seemed to be drawn across generational lines. Our parents generation had a problem with race relations; but my/our generation embraced the change.

    I see the same generational differences now between our age group and our children's, now young adults. I may not live to see Gay Marriage achieved in my lifetime, but I would strongly bet that it will happen during our children's lifetime. The primary opposition to Gay Marriage is rooted in religion... and religion is falling under the wheels of the younger generation.

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  2. Glenn Loury and Ann Althouse--each a supportive parent of a gay son--put forward a point of view which bears consideration in this discussion. In supporting equal marriage rights, we don't want to engage in demagoguery, right?

    Within the gay marriage discussion, I am further troubled by the exaltation of matrimony's romantic fiction--that marriage is first and foremost a beautiful expression of love, the ultimate selfless act, etc. When a marriage happens, a couple partially locks itself in, socially and legally, in exchange for bourgeois respectability and various tax/legal advantages. Within such a culture, non-married adults are incentivized to at least appear marriage-seeking; those disinclined must feel some disquiet amid today's unquestioning idealization of marriage.

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