One of the most important events to occur in my short, largely meaningless life is starting a Gay-Straight Alliance at my high school. We’d all suffered enough under the school’s administration, and several had decided it was time to band together and show what we’re made of.
Part of starting a club is to obtain signatures of people who will join, a rational thing. We had to get more signatures than any other club. Not that it mattered, because twenty isn’t that different from ten in a school of almost three thousand. As the president-elect, I was in charge of finding these signatures, and of course the first people I asked were my friends.
Although many of them were kind enough, good enough to sign, in part just because it meant so much to me. But one person’s reaction shocked me. Not so much his opinion as the words he used and the total disregard with which he said them. I had been friends with Paul for several years, and he knew (along with everyone else in our small magnet program) that I’m pan-romantic. It was no secret, and it still isn’t. Thus, it was an amazing shock when he said to me, in all seriousness, “Would you be mad if I said that all gay people should be placed on an island and shot?”
I wasn’t quite sure how to react, because obviously that’s a pretty malicious statement. So the first words out of my mouth were riddled with violence: “I’ll be nice and not rip your throat out.”
It just didn’t seem believable that anyone could have such total disregard for the humanity of another group of people, none of whom had ever done anything to him. Even in Conservative-ville, it was just unimaginable. And yet he had said it. What kind of perspective brought someone to that conclusion? I had to wonder if he thought we had as much value as cattle, or even less since he at least allowed them the dignity to be consumed, as opposed to left to rot. How could he have no respect for me as his friend and classmate, and for the people I loved, for the people he knew? Because it was how he was raised. It’s something I will never understand and a place I have to escape.