I’d never gone to a school dance before. But this time it was different. I was going to the Homecoming Dance of my sophomore year, and I had a date.
The excitement of actually having a date helped me float through the three days I had until “D Day.” I had always wanted to go to a dance with another guy. I imagine us being just like all the other couples on the dance floor, no one paying us any more attention than they would the guy and girl next to us.
Then the day arrived. Suddenly my excitement disappeared and it was replaced by anxiousness and a little bit of fear. What if the chaperones kicked us out? What if we got harassed while we were dancing? How would our peers react to two guys dancing together, and not just as a joke? I realized that I’d never actually seen a gay couple around school, so I had no idea how others would react.
In the end, my nerves didn’t prevent me from going to the dance. As I cautiously walked around the dance floor looking for my date, the same questions kept whirling inside my head, and several times I had a fleeting thought of leaving right then and there so I wouldn’t have to deal with any harassment. But he had spotted me, so it was too late to back out now. We talked a little bit and introduced each other to a few of our own friends.
I heard the song change in the background, finally not a rap song, which meant I actually liked it. Pushing aside all of my previous fears I grabbed his hand and pulled him to the dance floor. It turns out that dancing wasn’t his thing, and my romantic dance dream melted before me. So I preoccupied myself by keeping an eye open for anyone that might be approaching us just in case.
It’s a good thing I did. Not long after we started dancing, two girls walked right up to us and stopped. I braced myself for the taunts and jeers they would throw at us, soon followed by the affirmation of the crowd around us. But what they actually said caught me completely off guard.
“You two are my heroes. It’s so awesome that you two are dancing with each other. I wish I had as much courage as you.”
“Yeah, she’s right,” the other added. “You two are so cool.”
And with that, they smiled at us and then disappeared into the crowd. I’d never seen them before, and I never did see them again around school. Then again it was a costume dance and we probably wouldn’t recognize each other in a normal school setting anyway. But I’ll never forget what they said, or the impact it had on the remainder of my high school career. It gave me hope that there really are truly compassionate people out there. Even though I didn’t really enjoy my date (that’s a story for another time), I will always remember that dance and what I gained from it.