No one’s mistaking Cochran as pro-gay, don’t worry.

So, I read this article about teens protesting a school’s decision to allow a gay couple to attend prom, and it renders me completely inarticulate. Seriously. All I’ve been able to say about it for 3 days is, “Wha-?” “Huh?” “But -”

I may rant here, but in general, I try to conduct a reasoned, relatively even-keeled argument regarding my position on any given topic. Unfortunately, it’s taken me 3 days to get past this particular thought:


Okay, so, I had to get that out of my system. There you go. Now, I can express an intelligent opinion. (Thanks for bearing with me through that).

1. A school board should not be deciding who its students take to the prom. The prom, or any school dance/event, is an event for all students. Are there other reasons students are excluded? I mean, besides having not bought a ticket? I mean, it’s not even like an extracurricular activity, where if you’re failing a class you can’t participate. How is this a matter for the board AT ALL? That said, kudos to the board for making a reasonable decision in the end.

2. I believe firmly in letting go of regrets and not reliving stupid things said, but I really hope someday high school senior Keith Bowman Jr. and local businessman John Smith look back on their words in print here with regret and some level of enlightenment. They are truly ignorant and bigoted:

“We knew Derrick was gay,” said Keith Bowman Jr., a high school senior who showed up at the rally. “They don’t want (Cochran) to be known as a pro gay town.”

“People who don’t know the area will think it reflects on everybody,” said John Smith, a grandfather who owns an air-conditioning business in Cochran.

In other words, they project their own insecurity and outstanding bigotry on everyone in any other town who might have even just one gay person, and now people might think the same way of them. Here’s a news flash: In twenty-fucking-ten, most people don’t give a damn about a town’s gay population. Too many people still do, unfortunately, but I gotta say, you’re worrying about a shrinking majority. It’s too bad you’re still in it, guys.

3. This is the really kicker that I can’t wrap my head around:

“I don’t believe in going up there and dancing with gay guys like that,” she said. “It’s also not just him bringing a boy. It was bringing all this attention to it.” ~The rally’s organizer, Amber Duskin.

This is how I read that quote: “Um, so, yeah… [chomps gum] I’m totally against that whole gay thing ’cause it’s wrong and stuff. But don’t write that down, ’cause I’m telling people it’s about all this media attention the school board’s decision has drawn, and I totally can’t get the irony of throwing a party – er, I mean protest – to show how bad all that attention is. Oh, a picture? Here, my right’s my best side.”

Yeah, okay, I’m indulging a bit of judgment on my part, too, but goddammit, seriously? What did you think would happen when you showed up at the courthouse? LESS media attention? What the fuck?

Alright, and also, who is asking you to dance with the gay guy? He seems to be handling this whole ordeal with an enormous amount of class, so even if you begged, he’d probably give you a dance or two. I’d personally push you to the dance floor and dance all over you. But that’s just me.

Here’s what you have to learn at some point, Amber, darling: at some point in your life, you’re going to be in a room with someone who doesn’t think exactly as you do. When you grow up and get a job, you’re going to sit in a conference room with someone who doesn’t share your perspective on life, or probably even on your job. The people who sign your paycheck will expect you to suck it up and settle disagreements with reason and equity. Consider this prom practice for life. With dancing and a decent meal.

Or don’t. It would probably be more pleasant without you.

4. Speaking of the class of Derrick Martin (the guy this whirlwind of attention is focused on), can I just ask where the heck he learned it from? Because apparently his parents aren’t exactly on the same level. They’ve kicked him out of the house.

As a result of the media attention, Martin’s parents have kicked him out of their home, and he’s staying with a friend in Cochran.

It takes a special kind of hate to kick a 17-year-old kid out of a place that should be a secure, safe haven for him.

5. High school students and citizens alike seem to be rubbing their hands and plotting ways to get around the school’s decision:

Martin said talk at school Thursday was that the prom committee may do away with the traditional “walk through” when students and their dates are announced as they enter the prom.

He’s also heard some students are trying to have a separate prom.

Oh, and Ms. Duskin’s preferred method:

The senior said she asked her high school to return her prom ticket money and does not plan to attend because of Martin.

I don’t know what the response is/will be, but if I were in charge of selling tickets for this thing, I’d tell her that hate and bigotry are not sufficient reasons for a refund. Sorry. Guess you’ll have to choose between your wallet and your precious beliefs. Oh, the horror.

Okay, I can hear some of you detractors who think I’m wrong and being a bit harsh. This girl and this town haven’t done anything to incite violence towards Derrick Martin; they’re simply standing up for their beliefs. Here’s what I say to that:

It isn’t possible to use words too harsh with people who encourage the isolation of another law-abiding human being because they aren’t the same. Even if you believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice (it isn’t), what right do you have to exclude anyone based on it? Your religion is a lifestyle choice, believe it or not. You’re not excluded from society based on it because you’re in a majority. Even if you weren’t the majority, it would be wrong to treat you this way, as tempting as it would be.

The truth is that homosexuality is not a choice, any more than heterosexuality is. Any more than the sex assigned to you based on the genitals you’re born with is. Any more than your height or eye color is. The fact that this is in the news is as absurd as it would be to read tomorrow that all hazel-eyed people need are only allowed to drive white cars, because we know how bad they are about running red lights, and we can give white cars a wide berth.