I was about 16, I think, when I developed a fast-moving crush on a gay boy. He showed up at my Michigan suburban high school from New York, joined the school’s stage crew where I was the student crew chief, and blew my mind.
He was hilarious, flamboyant, and had a huge, generous heart. Because he was a boy and I was a girl and I am not gay, having a crush on him was a programmed response from me, even though I totally had a straight boyfriend. I found myself fawning over him and giggling when he admired my hand ripped t-shirts and koolaid dyed hair (it was 1984, give me a break).
Not long before he moved back to New York, I remember overhearing some of the jocks at school calling him a faggot and making fun of him. I remember glancing at him to see if he’d heard and watching his face grow shuttered and drawn, his shoulders hunched down, and his light dim.
I hated those jock boys so much in that moment. This was the moment I became a gay rights advocate.
Things have gotten better since 1984, right? Not so much, sadly. That’s why the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network is advocating the Day of Silence tomorrow on April 19th to call attention to name calling and bullying that happens in relationship to gender identity and sexual preference. The movement started in 1996 at the University of Virginia, and is now all over the country.
I’d love to see this spread around the country! Good luck, kids. I’ll be thinking of you.
PS: in the video below, Saad looks so much like the boy I had a crush on, it kills me.