Posted by: Andrew | April 17, 2010

silent, upon a peak in darien

Other titles considered:

  • You Can’t Stop The Beat
  • Taking The Long Way
  • Not with a Whimper but a Bang
  • Man in the Mirror

This project has been a near indescribable experience.  However, I’ve never been at a loss for words so I’ll gladly describe.  First, let’s do some fun technical stuff:

It seems so foreign to go back and read my FIRST BLOG.  The project was a very spur of the moment decision and I had no idea what to expect or really even what shape this blog would take.  It has been an undertaking for sure.  Not only did I have to write to someone every day, but I also had to blog and reply to those recipients kind enough to respond to my messages.  It took up a large chunk of time each night and while I’ll be glad to have some free time back, I’m certainly going to miss it.  Who knew I had 100 people with a 100 stories to share?!  That was my big concern at the beginning of this project.  I knew I easily had a list of 100 people I could write to, but I wasn’t sure I had enough stories to make each blog post interesting.  Though some posts were shorter than others, I am glad (and surprised) to have published 100 solid posts.

Was the goal achieved though?  After all, this was a challenge with a specific prize in mind.  I was doing one thing once a day for one hundred days to achieve the broad goal of somehow making myself a better person. To be honest, at the beginning I didn’t really see exactly how this could benefit me personally.  I just felt like it was a good thing to do.  However, sitting at my computer on Day 101 I realize, in concrete terms, how I have been bettered.  This project challenged my assumptions about people just as I was attempting to challenge theirs.  There were recipients who I was certain would be unsupportive who accepted me wholeheartedly and recipients who I thought would be welcoming who disapproved.  Beyond that, the very fact that I am calling today Day 101 is a step in a better direction.  Though my journey from here may not take the form of a daily blog, I see today as the constant continuation of what little I can do to help achieve equality.

It’s not just me though.  I’ve witnessed so much support and activism from other allies through this project.  I’ve received emails from people telling me how they are making changes in their behavior to stand up for equality.  I’ve seen people publicizing Queer the Census, National Day of Silence, LGBT news stories, etc. to stand up for equality.  There are even people who have dedicated themselves to the 30 Days of YouKnowAGay to stand up for equality.  I will update this blog for 30 more days so participants can comment on their journey or you can go to the YouKnowAGay Challenge page where some are using their own blog to update!  I want to thank everyone so much for visiting, commenting and supporting me throughout this blog.   Sometimes we don’t realize what effect our words or actions have on other people, but hopefully through this project, you can see that they can have a profound impact.

Two of the fiercest allies that I know are my parents.  Former President and VP of their local PFLAG, they have been an active part in the lives of many LGBT youth and their parents.  My mom was invited to participate and today served as a panelist for the State of the State Public Policy Conference for Equality Texas.  Their activism is inspiring to me.  I told my parents that I thought I was gay when I was 10 years old (my mom thinks I was 9).  Only because I was upset and distraught did my parents comfort me by saying that I was at a curious age and that it didn’t necessarily mean I was gay.  They were supportive – I just wasn’t ready.  It would take another 12 years for me to finally come out (again).  As I sit here typing this conclusion, I can only imagine how dismayed my 10-year-old self would be to discover that I’m not only comfortable with myself but that I’m proud proud proud of who I am.  So proud that I’ve been harassing people for 100 days now and broadcasting it over the Interwebs :-)

Thank you again to everyone who has been a part of this project.  It has been an unexpected blessing and so personally rewarding.  Now it is time to continue the righteous fight for equality.

Posted by: Andrew | April 16, 2010

day one hundred: resolutions resolved

It is very hard to share things with my little brother, especially when I want it all to myself.  I – oops! – Our family got a computer for Christmas this year, and we are fighting for the controls.  I think what I will do for the time being is to work on my Texas History Project because I really need the time.  Of course thinking of all the games makes me weak, but I will carry out my 1997 resolution of sharing our computer.  After the History Fair I will probably read my A.R. book because I usually only get thirty points.  If I don’t carry out my resolution my brother should not worry because my mom will.

I recently found my 7th grade school journal and, as indicated in the block quote, the above was my 1997 New Year’s Resolution entry.  Barring the basic writing and grammar errors (egad!), I think it’s a fitting last blog since my YouKnowAGay project is a New Year’s Resolution as well.

Things to note about the ’97 entry:

  • I chose to use my valuable computer time to do homework.  Geez.
  • As established in DAY EIGHTY-NINE, I’m sure the Accelerated Reader book I was going to read was Hank the Cowdog.
  • In the last line, I acknowledge the resolution will be carried out regardless of my volition.
  • Luckily, I completed that year’s resolution.  Also, I’ve luckily started making more advanced resolutions.

DAY ONE HUNDRED (so weird typing that!) was my 7th grade teacher who required the journal.  Though I’m sure at the time I would have rather been playing on the computer than writing in my journal, I’m glad it was mandatory because I had the BEST time rereading what life was like for my 12-year-old self.  I suspect I’ll have the same feeling looking back on these blog entries many years from now.

***This marks the end of my 100 Days Project!!  However, be sure to check in tomorrow for a conclusion post that will wrap up everything!

Posted by: Andrew | April 15, 2010

day ninety-nine: karma’s on a wheel

DAY NINETY-EIGHT was one of the Senior Patrol Leaders of my Boy Scout troop.  He was the highest ranked non-adult leader and a genuinely nice guy who always put the troop first.  For example, one campout he organized a midnight sabotage.

There was this guy in our troop – let’s call him Arnie – who was a little bit slower than everyone else.  Arnie was a brilliant kid, but he was less secure in social interactions and common sense situations.  There was another guy in our troop – let’s call him Steven – who was a little more of a punk than everyone else.  Steven was a brilliant kid, but he was less secure in kindness and social graces.

During a campout at Caddo Lake, Steven decided to play a horrible “prank” on Arnie.  After the adults had gone to bed and we were sitting around the campfire, Steven asked Arnie to take a tent pole from him that he had been using to poke the fire.  Arnie, trusting and unaware that the pole was red hot, grabbed the pole and immediately threw it down as it burned his hand.  The rest of us jumped up, half tending to Arnie (thank goodness for first aid merit badges!) and half scolding Steven down for what he had done.  Luckily, the burn wasn’t too bad and it was dressed quickly.  Arnie and Steven both went to sleep.  The former because he needed rest and the latter because he needed protective isolation.

As the rest of us were sitting around the campfire criticizing Steven, DAY NINETY-EIGHT decided to funnel our energy into a lesson.  Since Steven wanted Arnie to take the tent pole off of his hands, we should oblige him and finish the job.  We all snuck up to Steven’s tent and stealthily started taking all of the tent poles out with a couple of the Scouts holding up the fabric so that it would maintain some sort of structural integrity.  After the all of the supports were removed, we began a silent countdown and dropped the tent onto a sleeping and unsuspecting Steven who immediately started to yell and thrash about.  We didn’t beat him with a socks full of soap.  We just let him stumble around (for a long time) looking for a way out of the tent.

Was it wrong?  Perhaps.  Was it funny?  Of course.  Was a lesson learned?  Ask Steven.

Posted by: Andrew | April 15, 2010

day ninety-eight: taxing day

DAY NINETY-SEVEN replied that she, too, tries to make a positive difference everyday in the lives of her elementary theatre students (I can’t think of a person better suited for such a job).  She wishes understanding for all regardless of differences and hopes that I find peace on my journey.

************************************************************************

Today is the last full day before taxes are to be filed (or at least an extension)!  DAY NINETY-EIGHT is a friend from high school and must be very busy right now because she works as an accountant.  I imagine her early April is like what my Tax Free Weekend at the Great American Cookie Company in the mall was like.  Insanely busy.  Though probably not as sweet.

Posted by: Andrew | April 13, 2010

day ninety-seven: no school spirits

It feels weird blogging again after a 5 day vacation – what am I going to do after Day 100?!?  Anywho, NYC was an awesome trip!  I saw a show at every time slot I could and while Next to Normal was my favorite show, A Little Night Music was a close second with the added bonus of childhood hero Angela Lansbury in the cast.  You may remember Angela’s hero status from DAY NINE: Jessica Fletcher and the Scientific Method.

*******************************************************************

Tyler, Texas, is 20 minutes from my hometown.  The recent attempt at censorship there is a perfect example of why I felt compelled to do this project.

Last month Tyler Civic Theatre approved a production of The Laramie Project, a collection of monologues crafted from interviews of Laramie, WY residents depicting the impact and aftermath of gay resident Matthew Shepard’s murder.  TCT received letters (according to KLTV, three letters) complaining that the play promotes a “gay agenda.”  I’ll go out on a limb and say that the persons complaining have never read/seen The Laramie Project.  I can’t imagine what anyone who has read/seen the play could find objectionable besides the actual crime it is based upon.

Unfortunately, Tyler has special need to stage this production because in 1993, 23-year-old gay Tyler resident Nicholas West was the victim of a hate crime murder.  Today, a vigil in support of the production was held outside of a regularly scheduled TCT board meeting where they were going to address concerns over the play.  While I was unable to attend the vigil, I emailed the TCT expressing my support for The Laramie Project.  I am happy to report that the Tyler Civic Theatre board once again approved The Laramie Project as part of their season!!  You can visit their Facebook page here.

DAY NINETY-SEVEN is a high school theatre classmate who unfortunately experienced censorship firsthand.  Not by our theater department.  By her mom.  The Dining Room was the first play my sophomore year and because it included alcohol in some scenes, her mom wouldn’t let her participate in the play.

I hope my letter finds DAY NINETY-SEVEN well and that, much like the TCT board, she will approve.

*********************************************************************

Tonight I got to hear pioneer activist Gloria Steinem speak at the University of Texas at Dallas campus and it was amazing!  Besides the bevy of brilliant quotes I gathered, she ended – as she says she always does – by issuing a 24-hour challenge.  Much like the 100 Days Project, it asks someone to do ONE thing in a 24-hour period.  Gloria said that starting at 9am on Wednesday, we each had to do “one outrageous thing in the name of simple justice.”  She said that this could be as simple as saying “pick it up yourself” to a more complicated decision to run for public office.  Regardless, she said two things will happen: 1) You’ll feel better about yourself 2) Thursday will be a better place.

Posted by: Andrew | April 7, 2010

day ninety-six: my comment overrated? word.

1)  Though DAY EIGHTY-SEVEN & DAY NINETY-ONE didn’t write back, they both requested me as a friend on Facebook which, in the world of social networking, counts for something.

2)  Today I went back to my community bank for the second time since I told DAY SEVEN and she wasn’t there again!  Unbelievable.  She’s always there!  Well, except for her absence in the DAY FORTY-NINE blog.  While filling out my withdrawal slip, I heard the other teller talking about DAY SEVEN so I know she still has to work there.  Perhaps I should park in a different parking lot and sneak up to the door before she hides.

3)  DAY NINETY-SIX is someone I haven’t contacted since graduation.  Though we were friends all throughout school, I remember a specific instance during the 7th grade when I intentionally got under his skin.  During one of our English classes, DAY NINETY-SIX kept interrupting me to fawn over the novel we were reading and knowing that he was a great admirer of the written word, I told him “words are overrated.”  His flushed skin, defensive response and eventual silence allowed me to get back to work.  I’m not even sure what exactly I meant by that, but I know I didn’t mean it.  Who doesn’t love words?!  Why remember a trivial event like that when it was eventually water under the bridge, right?  Perhaps it means I have an oddly overdue apology to deliver.

***********************************************************************

Tomorrow I fly to NYC for 5 days so I will be taking a little hiatus from the blog.  I will start blogging my final four days on Tuesday night.  Final four days?!?!???  Crazy!

Posted by: Andrew | April 6, 2010

day ninety-five: smoke and mirrors

Sometimes something so fortuitous happens that it appears it must have been planned.  After my high school baccalaureate, I unknowingly took an ace-up-the-sleeve picture with one of my high school administrators.  The sign above the gymnasium doors read “NO TOBACCO ALLOWED.”  The sign above the gymnasium doors in my picture read “B-L-A-C-K-M-A-I-L.”  Though there was precious little time left in my high school career, I let DAY NINETY-FIVE know that if my remaining days did not unfold smoothly, the school board would be informed that he was advocating behavior in direct violation of the school handbook.

DAY NINETY-FIVE thought the picture was pretty funny.  He also must have thought I was serious because I breezed through the last week of high school without any trouble.

Posted by: Andrew | April 5, 2010

day ninety-four: no story? no silence.

DAY NINETY-FOUR is a first for this project – a couple.  They are both very faithful and active members of my hometown church.  I haven’t seen them since graduation, but growing up, they were always interested in and supportive of all of my activities.  I also know that they are against the Reconciling Ministries Network, the Methodist movement devoted to a more inclusive church with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity.  The Texas Annual Conference community within this movement is Breaking the Silence.

Though I don’t have a specific story to share about DAY NINETY-FOUR, I felt I shouldn’t let that stop me from contacting them.

Posted by: Andrew | April 4, 2010

day ninety-three: the best friday ever

Stoplights are helpful, necessary and mean.

The latter description is probably only applied by myself and other Jacksonville Middle School classmates whose lunches were governed by the all-powerful stoplight.  For some reason, the administration felt our lunches needed to be run with an iron fist by a coach who was the lunchroom boss.  Were Junior High cafeterias supposed to be breeding grounds for youthful rebellions?  Actually, yes.

You didn’t get to sit with your friends; you had to sit at the lunch tables in the order you came out of the various lunch lines.  It was a fine art to time your exit with your friend’s from a different line in order to sit together.  Lunches always started off with the stoplight showing green which meant that the volume was at an acceptable level.  If the coach switched it to yellow, that meant it was getting loud and we needed to be a little more quiet.  If the stoplight reached the dreaded red, that meant we had not been mindful of our warnings and we couldn’t talk for the rest of lunch.

On the Friday before Spring Break of my 8th grade year, things got a little out of control.  Being on the verge of a week-long vacation, students were already a little rowdy.  Our volume quickly moved us past the green and yellow warnings to the silent red.  The coach got on the microphone to let us know that the stoplight was red and that there was to be no talking for the remainder of lunch.  Everyone kept talking.  The coach got back on the microphone to tell us that since we were not following orders, we would have one day of no talking when we returned after Spring Break.  Everyone kept talking.  The coach returned to the microphone to tell us that due to our flagrant disobedience, there would be one week of no talking when we returned.

This is where the story takes a glorious turn.  In the immediate silence of our new punishment, some brave, inspirational student made a single clap.  I’m not sure whether it was because it was an unthinkable thing to do, but that single clap sounded louder than any yellow stoplight lunch.  The echoes of that lone clap were quickly followed by the wonderful phenomenon known as the “slow clap.”  Both joyous to the clappers and humiliating to the recipient, the slow clap packs a mean punch.  It wasn’t long before the coach angrily informed us that there would be two weeks of no talking now.  The slow clap grew to proper applause.  The coach yelled into the microphone that we had three weeks of no talking now!  By this point, there were “whoos!” and “yeahs!” coming from the cafeteria full of newly courageous middle schoolers.  The coach, just as stunned as we were, put the microphone down in defeat and left the cafeteria.  The rest of lunch was spent recalling the details of the unheard of uprising as we ate our food that tasted just a little bit sweeter.

Of course when we returned to school two Mondays later, we had every coach and school officer in the cafeteria ensuring a full lockdown.  It didn’t matter though.  We would always remember that one glorious Friday.

DAY NINETY-THREE isn’t the coach that got schooled.  I couldn’t find him – though it isn’t for lack of searching!  DAY NINETY-THREE is the only coach that seems to have not moved since I graduated.  After a year of high school basketball, I had to complete one more semester of physical education.  I decided to take the general P.E. class because DAY NINETY-THREE agreed to let me use his office in the field house to study during class.  Geeky.  I know.  Bottom line though is that DAY NINETY-THREE was cool and definitely not someone who would have wielded the stoplight power in a way that incited a riot.

Posted by: Andrew | April 4, 2010

day ninety-two: the price of a smile

DAY NINETY-TWO and I shared the same orthodontist.  Sitting in the waiting room knowing that your braces were about to be tightened within an inch of your life is downright terrifying.  Traumatic experiences like that bond people.

I had a slight overbite that had to be corrected by rubber bands running from my top front braces to my lower back braces.  Like many awkward kids before me, I had that moment at lunch one time where I was trying to affix my rubber band and it was propelled across the cafeteria in true slingshot fashion.  The sudden something-in-my-backpack interest was crucial to my feigned innocence and social survival.  I hope DAY NINETY-TWO didn’t have that kind of a traumatic experience.

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