Monday, February 11, 2013

Segregation (We Can Never Go Back To Before)

When I saw the television news clip of Diana Medley, a special education teacher in Indiana saying that she doesn’t think anyone is born gay and when asked if she thinks gays have a purpose in life responding, "No I honestly don't. Sorry, but I don't. I don't understand it," I just wanted to scream at the top of my lungs--EDUCATE YOURSELF. You’re a teacher for God’s sake.

I would never want to put myself in the shoes of a gay student who needed to take a problem to her. That student is prejudged before he gets into her office or classroom. She doesn’t understand. Oh my God. She is also quoted saying, “We don't agree with it (homosexuality), and it's offensive to us. Homosexual students come to me with their problems, and I don't agree with them, but I care about them. It's the same thing with my special needs kids. I think God puts everyone in our lives for a reason."

Is she saying that she doesn’t agree with her special needs kids either? Are they offensive to her? I’m assuming no, but if you read the quote it’s easy to mistake her statement. So, Ms. Medley, thinks everyone is put into her life for a reason, but she doesn’t think gays have a purpose in life. Very interesting I must say. Maybe the purpose for gays in her life is to educate her on the fact that we’re all people, and to help her understand our similarities out way our differences.

The reason Diana Medley has even entered the realm of my life is because a group of students at nearby Sullivan High School, as well as, parents and religious leaders in Sullivan, Indiana want to ban the gay kids from attending prom. Ban. The. Gay. Kids. BAN!! Diana Medley doesn’t even teach there, but she was very vocal in supporting the ban.

What year is this?

According to the story published on (Where Ms. Medley's quotes were obtained) one student (whose name was withheld) says, “We want to make the public see that we love the homosexuals, but we don’t think it’s right nor should it be accepted.” Kynon Johnson, another student, says, “If we can get a good prom, then we can convince more people to come and follow what they believe.”

These students are the voices of those looking for a “traditional prom.” Nothing like keeping up with the traditions of making those that are different feel less than. The KKK has traditions, too.

High School is hard enough, and I realize this in one fucking dance, but come on. All the kids deserve to attend their prom. ALL of them. Do you think the gay kids are going to look at you twice when you dance with your boyfriend or kiss your girlfriend? Get over yourself. This is about your own insecurity and it’s hidden behind Bible verses. Prom is about having fun. It’s a night to dress up and listen to music and share a few laughs and make new memories before the school year ends.

I was a student who was hiding the secret of being gay. I know how difficult it is to not be able to talk to a parent, a teacher, a pastor, a friend--anyone--about what’s going on inside of me. I was always afraid of the same reaction that many of these people interviewed for this story had. A reaction that was captured for a television news broadcast. Putting the face to the quote is worse than just the quote. We can see your hate and condescension. 

Diana Medley stirred such anger inside me that I could do nothing but sit down in front of my laptop and type as fast as my fingers could hit the keys to compose the sentences forming in my brain.

Why do some Christians feel they are so much more superior than others? There are Christian people in Sullivan County where Sullivan High is located that don’t feel the same way as Diana Medley or the other professed Christians. I find it so interesting that we can all read the same Bible and believe in the same God yet be so divided on what the text means and what God wants.

Don’t try to tell me that I woke up one day and decided this life of fear, new segregation, social ostracization, and daily fight-for-rights was something that I chose, Ms. Medley. Hell no!! Life would be infinitely easier if I was a heterosexual man. I may have the same hang ups that I do now, but the fact that I would be a man attracted to women would make my daily life less stressful than being a man attracted to men.

I had to take a deep breath and remember that I live in New York City where there may still be bigots and haters, but where there is also acceptance and understanding.

I may not feel represented by the drag queens, go go boys, leather men, twinks, or porn stars in the NYC Gay Pride Parade, but damn it at least I live in a place that allows all of us to be who we are. 

I struggle enough with my own worthiness. These kids in high school today who aren’t afraid to stand up and speak out about who they are elate and terrify me. I’m elated that they have the courage I did not have, but I’m terrified for those who live in places where the good Christians ban together to fight against them.

So if you choose to segregate us don't ask to attend our more fabulous parties or drink from our much cleaner water fountains. Don’t ask us to arrange your flowers in beautiful vases or pick design your clothes. Don’t ask us to cut your hair. Don’t ask us to sing for your charity event. Don’t enjoy a moment of us dancing on stage. Don’t watch the television shows or movies we write, produce, or star in. The list could go on. I know. I’m kind of adopting a holier-than-though attitude. It’s hard not to. Much like a parent is supposed to calm down before punishing a child I should have calmed down before writing. Oh well, anger, much the same as alcohol, is a truth serum.

I was reminded today of the song “Back To Before” from the musical Ragtime. The story of Ragtime, based on the novel by E. L. Doctorow, is set just past the turn of the 20th Century. Times were changing and people where realizing they had to change with them or they would be left behind as relics of the past. 

There are people out there
Unafraid of revealing
That they might have a feeling
Or they might have been wrong
There are people out there
Unafraid to feel sorrow,
Unafraid of tomorrow,
Unafraid to be weak...
Unafraid to be strong!

The above lyrics represent to me the new crop of gay kids coming into their own in this, the 21st Century. They’re unafraid to reveal themselves, they’re unafraid of tomorrow, and they unafraid to be strong. Lets hope that the good Christians who want to segregate the gays become unafraid to admit that they might have been wrong.

The article on ends with Southwest School Corporation Superintendent Chris Stitzle saying the school plans to go on with its prom April 27 as planned.
"We're planning on having our prom just like we always have. We encourage all students to participate," he said. "We treat all students with respect and dignity."
We can never go back to before. Change is hard and growing pains hurt, but if a child is gay they deserve all the same privileges, rewards, discipline, and experiences of a non gay child. They deserve a human experience. We deserve a human experience. We can NEVER go back to before.

lyrics from "Back To Before" by Lynn Ahrens reprinted without permission
video of Christiane Noll from the 2010 Tony Awards telecast