Tuesday, December 14, 2004

You're OUT!
What sounds like yet another bad christians doing un-Christian things story - Gay Teen Expelled From High School (from Ryan Davis/Notgeniuses.com) - to me sounds like a good old fashioned inspirational story. You really ought to go read the entire story, since I'm only going to skim over it - and there's a helluva lot of discussion over at DAILY KOS on this, as well. Basically, this 18-year-old was confronted by his high school principal about being gay, after they learned he ran a gay-teen website. The guy wasn't yet out to his parents, and begged the principal not to tell them. Upset parents, angry school, kid gets expelled. It sucks, of course. But what fascinates me is the kid, and the making of his website. Apparently, he saw a need for a safe place for gay teens to go online and deal with issues surrounding their sexuality, after the place he'd normally turn to started charging money. Using his own talents and resources, he created a new website. The school found about it, and that's where his troubles began.

Obviously, there are tons of issues here - what rights do teens have to their privacy; what rights to private schools have to decide who, and who not, to allow in their school; parent/child relationships; how tough it is, even today, to be a gay teen; and of course, a favorite - OUTING. Personally, as anyone may have gathered from reading my pages, I do not believe that any politician has a "right to privacy" in terms of their sexual orientation - I say OUT THE BASTARDS, and let the public sort it out. Celebrities? Well, I could give a rat's ass about their rights - but it would be more accurate to say I just am tired of hearing about ANYTHING a celebrity says or does. This isn't 1991; I don't think there is this big need to have OUT gay actresses, actors, newsmen, etc. It's not a bad thing, don't get me wrong - I just don't think it's an important thing. I think the turnaround for me happened during the whole "gay marriage" debate - when Rosie O'Donnel got married in San Francisco. I didn't care much for her either way until she took on the "gay adoption" issue, and I thought she had some great things to say, and brought some good publicity to the cause. But the marriage issue was the turning point. Here she never (as far as I saw) spoke about other people - it was all about the rights she didn't have being in an UNACKNOWLEDGED relationship. She wasn't wrong - but she wasn't convincing because she just never made the case that I wanted her to make - "I'm a rich and powerful woman - I can do what I damn well please, and have tons of lawyers looking out for my interests, both professionally and personally. But as I learned in a recent court case, I am denied rights that any married partner has. And I've got money and lawyers coming out of my ass! What about the regular folks struggling to make ends meet, or who don't have health care, or custody rights, or any of those other things that I, and many of you, take for granted." Blah blah blah. But that never happened, and it won't. It can't.

So I prefer to concentrate on real heroes, real, "regular" gay people who make life better for us - who move "the cause" forward. And that is why this kid's story fascinates me. I want to hear about more folks who see some inequity, some need being unmet, and take their talents, ideas, skills and do something positive with it. An 18-year-old in a so-called Christian school took a big risk - and at the moment it might be very scary for him. But he couldn't help trying to make a difference for other gay kids who merely needed a place to go, talk, be themselves, feel safe. We owe it to folks like this to show our support, our gratitude, and for me anyway, my awe.