- Gender and Relationships
Some Thoughts On High School Gays
Last weekend we went to see a production of West Side Story at the local performing arts high school. The evening got off to a rocky start as the power had gone off for several city blocks but after a forty minute wait, the lights came on, the curtain went up, the leads fell in love (and died) and there was some singing and dancing too. But as I looked around on the stage and in the audience I couldn’t help but reflect on my days in high school theatre (which I am willing to admit happened in the early eighties) and wonder how different life has become for gays in high school. So here are some thoughts on high school gays – Don’t Get Me Started!
As much as the gay community would have you believe that there is no way to tell if someone is gay or not, while that may be true in some cases I’m pleased to report (as I have always fallen into this category) there are still some effeminate gays that you can tell from a mile away. I always find it funny that a group such as “the gays” who claim to want acceptance for all find it so easy to discriminate amongst themselves. “Straight Acting” seems to be the holy grail of many in the gay culture but that is a blog for another day.
As we took our seats in the theatre I noticed a very thin boy coming into our row of seats. He didn’t sit next to us but a few seats down. He was effeminate to say the least with his skinny jeans making him look even more emaciated, a thin t-shirt on and a tiny backpack on that looked more like the ones that women used as purses a few seasons back. The small backpack/purse had the brand “Simple” written on it and I thought that there was no more “simple” way to see that this boy, who was wearing both straps from the backpack on his shoulders was a high school gay. Now before you tell me I could be wrong, I’ll admit that I could be wrong but the scars of beatings from bullies and name calling were telling my “Spidey sense” something different. Before the show began the empty seats between us and the “Simple” boy were filled with a woman, what I assumed was her husband and a small girl who had a perfect blend of both of the adults’ characteristics to let me know that this was their child. When we came back from intermission, the group of people next to us changed their lineup and the “Simple” boy ended up in a seat next to me. Apparently this was the couple’s son.
As the music began for the second act I found myself distracted by the boy sitting next to me mostly because as the music played I could see out of my peripheral vision that he had brought his thin hands up to his face. I looked to see a kid so entranced by what he was hearing and watching that he was almost more entertaining than the show itself. From his seat in the second row, he was living and breathing every word and movement being done on the stage. During the powerful scene between Anita and Maria after Maria’s bother (Anita’s lover) has been killed I thought this boy was going to die himself. His hands were covering his mouth like someone would do in a horror film trying to cover their mouth so as to not scream out which is all that they wanted to do. He was there, in the moment of the show and was no longer the skinny kid with the skinny backpack. He WAS Maria, trying to explain to Anita that he had to be with his love, Tony. He WAS Anita warning Maria of a boy who killed her brother. He was also all of the Jets and Sharks as they came on and performed their parts.
If you think I’m reading too much into what I think the boy sitting next to me was feeling I can assure you that I’m not. I was that kid. I am that kid when I watch theatre or movies. I fall into the action of the performance as if I’m giving it myself. There’s a reason so many gays go into theatre, there in the dark of the theatre or on the light of the stage with your makeup firmly in place creating a version of yourself as a character you can soar and experience things that in the mundane light of day might be frowned upon or misunderstood. From your seat or as the performer you can live vicariously through the characters and forget that you were bullied that day or that tomorrow you’ll be bullied again. There’s only this moment where you must send Anita to Doc’s to warn Tony that Chino has a gun and is after him. And it’s thrilling.
So as the lights came up after the performance and the “Simple” boy walked out with his parents I realized as he walked away that there may be a lot of things that change for gay kids in high school but finding acceptance, escape and yourself is still a course available from any school’s theatre department either in a seat in the auditorium or on its stage. “When you’re a gay, you’re a gay all the way from your first high school play to your last dying day…” Some thoughts on high school gays – Don’t Get Me Started!
Read More Scott @ www.somelikeitscott.com