Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Prom Dates and Career Choices

You often hear it said there's no use in crying over spilled milk. Perhaps this is true. But ruminating over it and imagining ways to prevent it from spilling in the future may be valuable.

Just recently there have been a series of stories of gay youth and their respective prom dates. The gist of these stories in my opinion is not about the remaining discrimination and ignorance that gays face — instead, it is about how damn far we've come. Youth today by and large do not discriminate. Gays are accepted by their peers. That's a long, long way from a quarter of a century ago when I was in high school.

I hated school. My hatred of my scholastic career began at the tender age of thirteen in the sixth grade. I look back now and realize I was robbed. My future was stolen. I resist playing the victim card, but I have to say that the amount of bullying and torment I was subjected to at that early age played a decisive role in the person that I have become and the possibilities I've been afforded. It could have been far worse. I could have simply committed suicide. There were many times I considered it. And my sexuality played the biggest role.

Funny thing, I was a good student. I was above average intelligence, creative and inquisitive about the world. Yet I was stifled due to the lack of acceptance of a fundamental part of who I was and who I am. My parents were supportive, although their religious views did not embrace the idea of a gay child. I was moved out of the hateful middle school I attended, and I was placed in a more supportive school during the eighth grade. It made a huge difference in my life in terms of finding friendship and support — regardless of the fact it was a religious school. But by high school I had given up. The damage was done.

Little did I know that University would likely have provided me so many means of coming to terms with myself and developing as an individual. I just figured it would be an extension of high school — and I was not having that! Unfortunately my parents did not have the foresight, since they had no direct experience of college themselves. So I ended up following my Dad in the family business — a business that I was able to develop a good amount of skill and knowledge in — yet a business that I was not passionate about. I enjoyed making decent money, but even in that regard I lacked a fundamental education and found myself at the end of two decades without anything to show for all my work and dedication. I found myself in a dead-end clerical job where I have worked essentially as an indentured servant for the past six years. I'd say that the benefits are good, but it is nothing less than velvet handcuffs. Had the benefits not been there I may have been forced to find something more fitting to my level of experience. Nonetheless, this is the metaphorical "spilled milk".

But I wonder how my life would have been different if the world I grew up in had accepted me for who I was. In such a parallel world, who would Geoffrey have become? What career(s) would I have chosen? What level of scholarship would I have attained? What kind of husband and family would I now have? Where might I have traveled? How might I have been involved in and/or recognized in my community?

I think I can rightly answer that my life would have been far better and with many more opportunities. I think I would have made more intelligent decisions about the people I chose to love, the places I decided to go, the ways I could have invested my money and the things I did for a living. But you can never know for certain. And since it's all hindsight, this is the life I have lived, and there's no point in regretting it — what's the point anyhow?

The point is: We don't let these injustices continue! We stop killing the creative spark in our children! We abandon our ridiculous and barbaric superstitious beliefs! We allow each other to develop fully! That's the whole fucking point to this rant. Am I bitter? You'd better goddamn believe it.

But good for these kids nowadays! I take some solace in the fact that two high school boys can each be dates at their prom, in a small town, in the south of all places — and their classmates cheer them on! At least there is hope for the future.


kateoverjoyed said...

Geof (one f or two?)--

I'm so sorry your days at Valley Christian treated you this way. Very unfair. I was oblivious to it. Talk about a sheltered bubble. Wish I had known you better. I'm sure you're a great guy! My only memory of you is you letting me hold a lizard that you caught, and it dropped its tail in my hands. :) I'm Scott's friend, Kate, by the way. Curtis was one of my best friends when we were kids....

Hope you're having a wonderful Thursday!

Kate Brown

WillySF said...


I read my post over, and it was not clearly written. It should have said "I was moved out of the hateful middle school I attended, and I was placed in a more supportive school during the eighth grade". Valley Christian was a good experience for me. I have corrected my post.