Posts tagged “role model

Disqualified from High School Contest, Gay Teen Speaks Out

Kearian Giertz is the gay Fullerton, California, 17-year-old who made national news headlines last week, following his disqualification from a school contest for his statement supportive of marriage equality. During an annual rite of passage at his high school, known as the Mr. Fullerton Contest, Kearian was asked, in front of an audience, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?,” and expressed his desire to find his life mate and be legally wed, only to find himself disqualified by a school administrator, who had his microphone cut off.  Upon hearing his story, several elements stood out to me as intriguing.  First, compared to my own angst-ridden life in high school almost 25 years ago, it was refreshing that this young man felt comfortable enough to proclaim his desire to wed another man.  Second, I was impressed by how quickly the high school responded to his disqualification, firmly supporting Giertz’ right to free speech and calling the administrator’s actions inappropriate.  Lastly, I was struck by how, upon being disqualified, instead of reacting with the expected anger and hostility,  the teen and his friends chose a more peaceful option, turning this disqualification into a teachable moment.

Having recently written my own letter to my high school bully, I was curious as to how today’s youth were coping with harassment on campus, as well as in their daily lives, and sat down with Giertz, fellow out-teen Blake Danford, and heterosexual, LGBT-supportive Katy Hall, all friends since 7th grade and now Fullerton Union High School seniors, to discuss what it is like to be out and gay in school, as well as the event which propelled them into the headlines.

Kergan Edwards-Stout:   First, let’s start with you, Blake.  When did you first realize you were gay?

Blake Danford:  I first realized I wasn’t really attracted to girls around 4th grade, but came out as gay in 8th grade to a girl in my English class, who was a lesbian.  Eventually, I told a few others, about 5 people total, but it wasn’t until my freshman year I began telling even more people.

Edwards-Stout: At what point did you tell your family?

Danford:  I came out to my mom in my sophomore year.

Edwards-Stout:  And she’s been supportive?

Danford:  Definitely.  I think it was actually harder for me, as I was expecting her not to be.  It was almost like, “Wait, are you really okay with this?” Her support almost seemed fake to me. My parents divorced when I was three, so I’m still not completely out to my dad’s side of the family, as we don’t see them.  Anything out of the norm is not okay with them.  I’ve had them tell me, directly, that if I ever “became” gay, they’d kill me on the spot.  And I assumed that was how everyone would be, so my mom’s support really threw me.  But I’m really glad her support was genuine.

Edwards-Stout:  Kearian, what about you? Did you always know you were gay?

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