Three interconnected things happened this past week all by coincidence:
- I got an IM from a perfect stranger on OK Cupid, in which, twenty minutes into chatting, he stated, “Well, homosexuality is unnatural, that’s why people don’t want to see gay people in public.”
- The Constance McMillan story broke, and Eden Cafe put a call out for bloggers to show their support for this young woman, who, along with her high school class, was denied the chance to attend her senior prom, because of a bunch of homophobic bigots in the school administration. A Mississippi federal court has since ruled that school officials violated her First Amendment rights, but that doesn’t negate the travesty of the school officials’ actions. (In a new development, Tam High students have invited her to their prom.)
- I took my daughter prom dress shopping.
I was stunned when the guy that had IM’d me came back with that piece of drivel, especially after we had been having a fairly decent–if spirited–discussion about Gay Pride parades. He said he doesn’t like them or see the need for them, but had claimed it not to be homophobic…he said he simply felt it was a waste of time and energy and a hindrance to him, personally, who lives along the route it takes. “Sexual preference is your own business,” he said, “we don’t need a parade to proclaim it.” It’s an argument I can agree with on some level–my sexuality is no one else’s business–but the fact of the matter is that for some reason society makes it not your own business, and when you dare to be ~gasp~ different, by say, loving someone of the same sex, or loving someone not of your race, or loving more than one someones, or if you have sex in a way that the ubiquitous “they” deems “wrong,” then bad things happen. Laws get made, people get hurt, lives are destroyed. Sometimes people get killed. And that’s why promoting awareness is a good thing. We’re all here together, we’re all humans struggling to live happily, and who we love and have sex with shouldn’t matter.
Except when it does, as happened to Constance McMillan; and worse to others, who lost their lives for being different.
I never went to prom. I was living on my own when I was 16. High school dances were so far behind me that it never even occurred to me to consider going, and I never understood the hype surrounding it. Even though I stayed in high school and graduated with honors, prom was for high school kids–a label I didn’t attach to myself. And even if I had wanted to go, I couldn’t have taken my boyfriend, with whom I lived, with me. They didn’t allow non high-schoolers at dances. But that didn’t bother me. For a socially inept, awkward girl, a dance was something to be avoided at all costs anyway. And, after reading about all the lousy proms people endured, I can see I wasn’t missing much.
Then there’s my daughter. As different from me in her high school experience as a person could be–and I am immensely grateful for that. And she wants to go to her prom. She only dresses up for school dances and Christmas Eve at her grandparents, but those days are wonderful fun for us both. We shop (something neither of us likes to do.) We “do” her hair. We play make-up. And I kinda get why the other girls liked to dress up and go to dances now. She feels special, she gets to show off a special, different side of herself. She gets to “play” with clothes and looks and even a different attitude. And this year, she gets to bring her boyfriend to the prom, the first time she has had a boyfriend to take with her.
How would I feel if she were to be denied that experience by a school board that decided to cancel prom altogether, because they didn’t approve of one of their student’s sexuality? And I don’t mean just Constance, I mean the entire school, all those young people are being denied the experience. It’s a travesty, and it shouldn’t be happening in this day and age.
Saying “my sexuality is no one’s business but my own” doesn’t mean being forced to hide or deny it. It means no one else should have a say in whom I love, or in how I live my life. It means that no one can deny my basic rights, be that a job, a place to live, the right to attend a dance, or my right to life, because of my sexual orientation.