15 April, 2010

the day of silence

I'm not doing the Day of Silence--I mean, my school is really queer/trans-positive, it's not really an issue, at least not at such a basic level. I haven't heard anything about it at all. Except one of my friends who goes to a different school, who is against the Day of Silence because we're already quiet all the time so why would we be quiet some more instead of saying something. That makes sense to me.

However, I do think about Andy and become really proud, so I thought I'd tell you about him.

At some points in high school I was the only openly gay person, which was awful. Towards the end of eleventh grade, though, a new ninth-grader started at my school. Her name was Dana and she was very vocal about being gay; she mentioned it much more than I did. The next year, Dana and I would sometimes try to start a GSA. This was something I'd tried to do with various other kids in ninth and tenth grade, and always failed every time. We went to a private school, and I guess the situation was that the board wouldn't have been okay with it. But of course the headmaster and the dean of students, and everyone else my friends and I tried to convince during my high school career, couldn't come right out and say that, so they frequently would try to argue that a GSA would actually be a bad idea. They had two arguments which they would deliver, often within sentences of each other:

1. Our school is so accepting that we don't need a GSA.
2. Besides, if we had a GSA, the people who were in it might get beaten up.

So, okay. When I was in twelfth grade, the dean of students and I were friendly. She got annoyed with Dana and me and thought we were causing trouble, but she was still nice to me on an individual level, and I didn't hold it against her that the GSA never materialized.

Kids had tried to start a Day of Silence when I was in ninth grade. I was involved, I guess. It never happened; we were never able to get permission, we were told it would be disruptive. I don't think Dana and I really even thought about it when I was in twelfth grade. But there was Andy.

The Openly Gay Kids (when I was in twelfth grade):

1. Amanda (a senior)--weird, not very many friends, preferred to be friends with people a lot younger than her, but was learning to be with people and was mostly pretty mellow and nice. Was very shy and nervous about being gay, but as people graduated and she blended into the woodwork, fewer people actually remembered she was gay.

2. Dana (a sophomore)--very loud about various things and disliked for that, but also probably disliked more than she would have been if she wasn't gay. Although they didn't always get along, Dana was the only girl Amanda felt safe talking to and they had some games like calling each other "gayface" and talking about how gay they were, which was nice because Amanda found it physically hard to say the word gay except when she was talking to Dana.

3. Connor (a freshman)--very strange and distractible. He had a speech processing disorder and was prone to saying, in a completely serious voice, things like: "Sometimes I wish my eyelashes were longer because they're not very long...but I guess they'll grow." Amanda was fond of Connor of course. He had some friends even though some people found him annoying. Connor almost opted out of having to think about being gay because he was so out of it. Once he sent a bunch of flowery, ornate, anonymous love notes to a straight guy he liked, because he just didn't understand that you don't do that.

4. Andy (a sophomore)--had been assumed to be gay since he was in sixth grade, because he was small and did ballet. Eventually, in eighth or ninth grade, Andy had begun to mention that he was in fact gay. He occupied the most acceptable place for a gay kid--theater. Actually we were all involved in theater but Andy had the exact stereotypical personality of the harmless gay theater boy; he was mostly friends with girls, he was funny and gentle, he never politicized the fact that he was gay, and if he had crushes on straight guys he kept it to himself. He was a credit to the school--as the only Asian student, he was featured prominently in admissions booklets, and his dancing impressed teachers and students alike. Everyone loved Andy.

So, Dana and I didn't think about doing a Day of Silence, that much. But for some reason Andy did. He may have discussed it with Dana or me, I'm not sure; we knew that we couldn't get permission, couldn't get any kind of support from the school, but who was to stop people from just not talking? We asked our friends--well, mostly Andy asked his friends. And because everyone loved Andy, they agreed. And an impression was made, as far as I could tell. Discussions were started in class where teachers tried to argue that homophobia didn't exist and non-silent students couldn't help voicing their disagreement. People noticed that something was going on.

The dean of students was pissed. She made Dana and me come and talk to her. But it wasn't us! It's just not loud obnoxious gay people who care about homophobia, it turns out. It can be the gay person you love and trust, the one you thought was in your camp. It can be the gay person who you thought knew how silly all that stuff was, the gay person whose gayness is asexual and adorable.

I always loved Andy because he was funny and gentle. But then I also loved him for being sneaky and brave.

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