Friday, December 29, 2006

Another Untitled Post

As part of my training for my new position as an admissions application reader, I've been assessing applications from last year's batch. I came across one yesterday in which the applicant mentioned in his personal statement that he is one of few openly gay students at his high school. That struck a chord with me for the same reason David Levithan's books about openly and happily gay teenagers do--I see in these stories an opportunity missed.

I'm not sure that, even if I had not had my own religious conflict and internalized homophobia to deal with, I could have been openly gay in my high school. Hawaii is a rather liberal and accepting place, but high school is high school. Even the popular kids who everyone knew were gay didn't actually come out until after graduation; my status as a geeky white kid would not have been helped by openness about my orientation. Still, though, the thought of growing up as a teenager in a world where I could have been as comfortable with my sexuality as straight kids are is appealing. Not that any teenager is comfortable with his or her sexuality, but, for example, dating could have been the normally traumatic experience it is for most teens instead of the uniquely traumatic experience it was for me as I tried desperately to fit into the role expected of a straight Mormon boy.

It would be propagandistic of me to say I have no regrets about the life I've chosen for myself. Of course I have regrets. Who doesn't? Looking at my life holistically, I am happy with who I am, but that doesn't mean I don't ache a little every time I see two men holding hands or read about a seventeen-year-old boy resting his head on his boyfriend's chest. Despite the ache, though, and regardless of the happiness I experience as a heterosexually-married husband and father, I'm happy for the kid who felt comfortable enough with himself to be openly gay in high school and to talk about it in his admissions application. I hope he can experience the happiness I do and avoid some of the ache.


-L- said...

I watched Amelie this evening and I remembered (I think) that you said you liked it. There was a line from the failed novelist where he said this life is a rehearsal for nothing and I thought of regrets and this post.

G'pa Bob said...

I agree with you that we should (and can) be happy for everyone who has a happy highschool time.

Thank you for sharing that.

TutuKea said...

This post came to my mind, tonight, as I looked at your wedding pictures. While I don't mean to minimize your feelings and your struggles – and understand the desire to not have had to go through them, I couldn’t help but wonder how things might have turned out differently if you had felt free to be open about your ‘sexual identity’ in high school. I wondered if you still would have married and if not, who would have been Sophie’s daddy. Would she still have been able to say of him, "That's my Daddy. He's the biggest in the whole wide world. He know hows to hold me." An awful lot of daddies would never qualify for that description! Lucky Sophie!