Alex Bak ’18
Being openly gay in today’s society is hard, and it’s even harder when you go to a small school like Tower Hill that is only just now really beginning to care about social justice. As Sam, Rand, and I began to come out to close friends, teachers, and then eventually the whole school in our own ways, we became the go-to gays. Don’t get me wrong- I was honored. But it was also isolating in a way.
I’ll give an example: back in maybe 10th grade, some classmates were saying some pretty blatantly sexist things in front of me. I knew they didn’t mean it, and I knew they were joking and just trying to get a reaction out of me, so I let them go on and on until they finally asked me, “Aren’t you going to say anything?” I was known for being a feminist, known for being uptight about sexist comments, known for being “that girl,” so much so that people began to treat me differently.
Imagine how that changed when people also found out that I’m bisexual.
In most cases, being openly gay is pretty cool–I got to join a snapchat group for LGBT+ students in my incoming freshman class at college, I got to put “founder of school’s GSA” on my applications, I got to go up to the table with rainbow flags at my school’s orientation fair and say, “Hey I’m gay too.” However, most of these perks only applied when it was with a new group of people–it’s easier to introduce yourself to people as queer than to re-introduce yourself as queer. And that’s why it was weird at THS.
It felt like people felt the need to censor themselves around me. Instead of just using a guy in a hypothetical situation, teachers felt the need to tack on “or girl” at the end of the sentence. When talking about love, it was “imagine you’re this guy and you love this girl so much that you can’t even contain it. Oh, or another guy! Or whatever you’re into!” If those last little additions weren’t added on, teachers would sometimes talk to me after class, and apologize.
Guys, I don’t care that much. I really don’t.
People make mistakes! I use the masculine pronoun when I’m writing papers and need to address an abstract person in the third person! I talk about getting married to a man all the time even though I’m bi! We all make mistakes–you don’t have to apologize to me for it.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t represent all gay individuals. Sam, Rand, and I don’t represent all gay individuals. Whoever comes out in THS this year does not represent all gay individuals. If you find yourself feeling the need to apologize to any one person as if they speak on behalf of the entire queer community, don’t. Make it a point to not make that mistake again. You will help the person feel more included when you go out of your way to not make the mistake again next time.
It is important to get our opinions out on sexuality and gender related issues. However, we are not the only people with valid opinions. Treating us like that just puts us in a weird position of power that we are not qualified for.
If any of you made it this far and want to reach out to me, feel free. I gave my fancy new college email to the editors, so they can give it to you.
Stay safe, and don’t forget to be yourself. Life is a lot happier that way.