Thursday, March 3, 2016


Kosciusko County was a physically safe place to grow up, 15+ years ago, but it was not an emotionally safe one. I am grateful I was part of a church community that was not completely anti-gay, that my parents and friends were supportive of me. But I did not come out as a lesbian fully until college, due to animosity both perceived and experienced from fellow students, WCHS faculty, and community members.

I was 15 and I saw a magazine letters page where a girl had written in about her two best friends being in a lesbian relationship. They had included with this article a picture from "if these walls could talk II" of Chloe Sevigny leaning up against a wall very close to Michelle Williams... and I suddenly realized what all my friends were talking about when they talked about boys they had crushes on. Yikes. I presented as very stereotypically femme in high school, which was not how I wanted to look, but how I figured I could pass. I'm not sure it really worked, anyway. But I tried. I also used my Christian faith in high school to explain why I "couldn't possibly" be gay.

When I was a senior in high school, WCHS got a GSA. I didn't join for fear but I did fight for it as a member of the student council. One of the ramifications of this club, based out of conservative backlash, was that no clubs were allowed to use public school buses anymore. I was a member of the ski club, and our annual rates went up a bit as we suddenly had to pay for coach buses to Swiss Valley. One day we were getting on the bus and a student in front of me asked the teacher chaperoning, "why can't we use the school buses anymore?" His response was to roll his eyes and say "ohhhh, because of the little 'boys and girls club' we all have to walk on eggshells now." It's the closest I've ever been to wanting to sucker punch a grown ass man. I also was a cadet teacher in high school getting good marks working in a third grade classroom until I wrote a letter to the editor defending gay marriage. Shortly after that the teacher I was working with docked me to a C and sent allegations to my high school advisor that I "favored the girls." And some kids wrote "DYKE" on my parents driveway once.

I'm not in the closet but it's been many years since I've been politically active... except in the sense that "the personal is political" and I can use my "outness" to influence others daily. I no longer present in ways that make me uncomfortable (stereotypically "men's" fashion and a short hairstyle). Being queer has given me a wider world view. I had to work harder as a person of faith to develop something authentic and individual. I am able to relate with others or understand the spirit of their own oppression, if not the oppression itself. I'm a singer songwriter and struggle begats art :). I've traveled a lot and I've written music about growing up in a restrictive environment and the freedom that exists elsewhere. That things are much much bigger than KC would have you believe. It's actually given me some small amount of sympathy toward the people who are born and die there not knowing how much they are limiting themselves. KC people haven't really "allowed" me to develop this because I have been gone from Indiana for 10 years. But they did gift me with the freedom and the encouragement to leave, either by being wholly unaccepting of me, or by being the few teachers, mentors I had that quietly told me I could be who I was and that there was better out there.

I think things have changed a lot in the years since I've been gone. I'm grateful to my own mom for being one of the founders of the diversity rally that exists annually now, and I know that other groups exist. I wish I would have been more courageous and joined the gsa when still in high school. The annual diversity rally and recent counter-protest to whatever dumb thing Monica Boyer was hosting are prime examples of people speaking up and being allowed to do so. I know that one of the major orthopedics companies on Warsaw has a diversity support group for employees, including LGBT. I'm happy to see these sorts of things happening. I'm happy to see that the loudest voices I hear coming out of my hometown and home county are not exclusively white, straight, and conservative. I think things can only get better and I am grateful to the people who stayed behind to make sure they do.

30-ish. Lesbian/queer female. White. Middle class. Lived here in 1990s & 2000s.

No comments:

Post a Comment