When we choose to separate ourselves

When we choose to separate ourselves

Battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won. – Walt Whitman

I had to think long and hard about this possibility before finally sitting down at the keyboard. After all, the reasonable journalist’s creed is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” it isn’t to “afflict the afflicted.” But a bad decision by a minority group, or an organization supporting a minority group, cannot be absolved solely on the basis that it was made by, or on behalf of, a minority group.

A perfect example of this dynamic is the Aurora Pride organizers prohibiting gay police officers from marching in their parade in uniform. The ease with which the oppressed can become the oppressors has always fascinated me. The issue we’re about to discuss may be more subtle, but it’s no less troubling.

But before we continue, please let me stipulate that the those Belong: Fox Valley hearts were certainly in the right place when they hosted their second annual Teen Queer Prom in Batavia last weekend. It’s their heads that I’m more worried about.

My first issue with the event, of course, is that it’s these children’s sexuality that’s the defining factor which makes me quite queasy. I’ll say it again! Your sexuality should be the last consideration when determining the content of your character. When we choose to separate ourselves based on gender identity – even of our own volition – it sets the kind of precedent that gives the bigots’ theories credence. “If they can do it, then why can’t we?”

Worse yet, if you apply The First Ward’s Flip it Test to the proceedings, it makes me even more nervous. To wit, I don’t think a local “Teen Straight Prom” would go over very well. There’d likely be holy hell to pay if any well-meaning Christian church group decided to give that kind of thing the green light.

Another choice that bothers me is how the organizers refused to divulge the event’s specific location, which only serves to provide intolerant folks with the persecutorial “power’ they so desperately crave. Doesn’t the belief that you have to cower in the shadows set back the movement at least a decade?

I understand Belong: Fox Valley’s better safe than sorry thought process, particularly in the era of mass shootings. But life is nothing more than a series of risks and if you have to hide from them then what’s the point? It’s one thing for some nitwit to steal a pride flag or deface a pride fire hydrant, but it’s another thing entirely for them to disrupt an LGBTQ+ event. The second you give in to that kind of least common denominator is the second you’ve lost the fight.

To be clear, these caveats only apply to official events. I take no issue with spontaneous gatherings, queer school clubs, or gay bars. Everyone should be afforded the opportunity and solace to resort to a place where everybody knows your name.

Unlike it is with some white folks who take great offense at Chris Rock for applying the N-word while they can’t, this isn’t about the majority being excluded, either. I chose not to attend my high school prom and I’ve never regretted that decision. I’ve never been a traditionalist. That said, I do wonder what would’ve happened if a straight teen couple showed up to the Queer Prom. Would they have been granted entry?

Were it 2010, I’d be the first one to champion an LGBTQ+ prom because a gay couple would’ve been turned away from their high school event. But even though we’re still far from perfect, we’ve come a long way since the Supreme Court upheld gay marriage in 2015. And doesn’t it do a great disservice to the brave men and woman who battled that intolerance only to watch 2023 teenagers choose to separate themselves?

My twenty-something sons don’t give a flying you-know-what about who loves whom, and with rare exception, today’s teens wouldn’t think twice about seeing a same-sex couple on the dance floor. So, why not attend your official high school prom which honors those who fought the good fight and moves the equity cause forward.

Finally, I’m surprised that the fine Belong: Fox Valley folks allowed Shaw Media to photographically document the event. Doesn’t that put the teens who participated at the same risk that disclosing the prom’s location would’ve? That’s a little too much of an in-your-face mien for me.

So, while I certainly understand the theory and intent behind holding a queer prom, in the end, for all the reasons we described, it’s clearly a counterproductive proposition.

One thought on “When we choose to separate ourselves

  1. Jeff, you’ve known me long enough to realise I really don’t give 2 shits what people believe or really want to do . . . As long as I don’t get any of it on me or they expect me to participate with their delusions . . for example, I really don’t care what goofy things someone’s ‘god’ expects them to do . . as long as they do not expect me to follow soothe . . I really don’t care if someone is Gay (I was educated in the Arts so I was surrounded by Gay people) . . I really do not care if you have Gender Dysphoria and some days you are a Man and some you are a Woman and on others, you are Uncle Fester . . . BUT . . Don’t get angry if I don’t recognise your gender de jour and don’t realise your personal pronoun de jour is Drywall screw . . . if you expect people to play along wear a fucking sign and don’t get your panties (or whatever underwear) in a twist and give us a clue how to play along . . . At the end of the day, I really don’t give a damn if I misgendered you or did not guess your pronoun correctly . . . BUT beware . . If you get in my face I am totally prepared to verbally eviscerate you by turning the table on you . . . Oh yeah . . . .

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