Saturday, May 3, 2008

queen for a day

last time i was in milwaukee, i mentioned that i ran into "my prom date from 27 years ago." and that's a bit of slam to my friend anne.

i went to prom with anne because she was one of my best friends. for a chunk of time, we even dated (anne could probably throw her two cents in here as well.) back then i knew i was different (never, never gay) but it wasn't something talked about in waterford, wisconsin in 1981. except in the women's hushed, chatty gossip about an effeminate local man who sewed for a living. or the angry slurs and jokes among the "men" in the town.

it wasn't something i had come to terms with either, in any way. i figured that at some point i'd get married, have kids, and yell "honey, i'm home" as i walked in the door at 5:00 p.m. i never really understood what i would do with this "other" part of me, with these other feelings. the scenario in my head never played out that far. as far as i was concerned, there was no other option.

if i'd followed that path, it would more than likely be about this time in my life that i'd be tearing my family apart. somehow, someone would have found out that while i was coming home from work at 5 p.m, going to school plays, attending pta meetings, and raising a family, there was a secret -- either acted upon, quietly and in private, or not acted upon -- left to fester and grow, fed by the necessary lies.

luckily, i made a different choice: i chose to be honest.

so today, i'm a little knocked over by this story: just over 22 miles from the high school where anne and i slow-danced to "babe" by styx -- anne wearing a pretty lavender dress (hmm) and me in a white tux with a purple ruffle shirt (hmm) -- uriel gomez, an openly gay high school student, was nominated to be prom queen at his school.

and he embraced it.

whatever you think of this kid, or his classmates, we've come a long way. go uriel.

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