I want to start this year off right! I think the best way to do so is to begin by calling people out. So that’s what I’m going to do. Oh, stop judging, we all know that’s what you came here for anyway. And no worries, I sure do plan to deliver.
First and foremost I want to say, for all of you who don’t know, Princeton High School prides itself on being an accepting mecca of diversity and open minded, Patagonia coated love. This is not an exaggeration. This also is not the reality. Unfortunately, we have deluded ourselves into thinking that we’re the most welcoming group of teenagers to ever bless the face of the earth, when honestly, we just ignore what makes us uncomfortable. That isn’t being accepting, it’s being evasive. Not synonymous.
You may be thinking: “What is this girl talking about? My parents voted for Obama! I’m as accepting as it gets.”
Even if that wasn’t your thought process, it’s the PHS mentality. Specifically speaking, I want to talk about the treatment of the LGBT kids at our school and how they, and anyone else who falls outside the ring of normalcy are subject to deal with the poorly choreographed performance of Princeton kids trying to be open minded. Well intentioned, but pitifully executed.
For starters, you can ask just about anyone in the hall if they’re homophobic and about 95% of the time they’ll say no. Yet, when observing the behavior of the general populous in regards to LGBT kids, one could easily be led to believe the opposite. It isn’t that there is outright bullying or name calling, but it’s the attitude towards this demographic which caught my attention.
Microaggressions were the first thing I noticed. I was in the library a few weeks ago and a guy in my grade referred to something which he meant to call stupid as being “so gay.” I was wildly unimpressed. Like, really? We’ve been told that it’s offensive since the sixth grade. They even say so in 22 Jump Street- it’s too late in the game to be using such archaic and derogatory slang. Yet there it was. The most interesting thing? When I called him out for being rude, he said, and I quote “No, I didn’t mean it like that. I love gay people. I talk to (insert name of gay kid) all the time.”
Oh do you? Congrats. That’s like saying you can call me your “nigga” because there’s a few black kids on your basketball team. Newsflash– you can’t.
The next thing which came to my attention was during our most recent Teen Pep workshop. A freshmen asked about protective means for same-sex couples and afterwards the commentary coming from the other freshmen was borderline frightening. The things they had to say about homosexual intercourse made me feel like I was in the middle of Mississippi in the 1960’s. Yeah, that bad.
Even worse, I didn’t know what to say. Because everyone is entitled to their opinion, right? Even when it could possibly make other students feel unsafe and threatened. Right?
Another thing I’ve noticed is how some people, boys specifically, act towards other boys who they know are gay or bisexual. These are guys who will swear to God that they treat everyone the same, and don’t care about who anyone else is into. “C’mon Jamac,” I’ve been told, “I changed my profile picture to a frickin’ rainbow. Same Love is my favorite song. I love the gays.”
Oh I’m sure you do. Is that why you refuse to speak to the one gay kid in the room? Or if you do choose to talk to him, it’s brief, impersonal and uncomfortable. I don’t get it. Do guys feel as though their masculinity is being threatened by the sexuality of another guy?
Or how about when girls feel uncomfortable hanging out with another girl who’s maybe lesbian or bisexual. What is wrong with you?! Afraid she’s gonna kiss you? Honestly, don’t count on it- homophobia isn’t very attractive.
I’m not saying it’s all of PHS, I’m not even saying it’s half. I just want you all to know that those of you who think people don’t notice, I notice. And after speaking with a few LGBT kids, I can assure you that they notice too.
It isn’t fine, and it isn’t okay- but unlike most things we find unsettling in Princeton, we can’t ignore it. Not anymore at least, because you’ve just been called out. Officially.
Until next time,