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January 27, 2011 9:40 AM   Subscribe


 
That is extraordinary, she is a brave and remarkable young woman. Thanks for sharing the link!
posted by LooseFilter at 9:54 AM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


The use of quotes in "comes out" in the title of the Youtube video made me think of a line from Auntie Mame.

"Agnes...Aaaagnes--You're coming out!"

"Wheeeah!?"

Everything theatrical in me is jealous that I didn't get to make a big splashy statement of my queerness in high school back in the grim eighties, but alas, there were only thirty-three people in my school and we never had assemblies, so it was just down to an off-handed statement of facts with a little swirl of gossip before the shrug of "so what?" from my classmates. I could hold court on any number of subjects, but that one just seemed too matter-of-fact to carry much in the way of production values.

My school outed me at home, in a similarly undramatic way.

"Well," said an administrator, speaking to my mother with a weary chuckle, "You won't believe what he's telling everyone now."

I suppose after spending a year trying to convince everyone that I was from another planet, a secret opera star, and skilled water witch, it probably seemed like I'd run out of material and was going for the next shocking pronouncement in line.

Kids these days are too damn smart and articulate, the little bastards.
posted by sonascope at 10:05 AM on January 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


She's got a future in monologuing.
posted by GuyZero at 10:11 AM on January 27, 2011


This is great. What strikes me about this (aside from its awesomeness) is how generic coming-out speeches are. I don't mean "generic" in the sense of "inauthentic" or "not special" or whatever. I just mean that somewhere along the line in the past couple of decades, North American queer subculture (and popular culture) has developed a genre of disclosure that is stable and recognizable enough that coming-out speeches nearly all have the same pacing, the same turns of phrase ("what I'm about to say is terrifying"), the same themes, etc. It would be really interesting for a historian of rhetoric or performance studies to study this as an emergence of a new speech genre…
posted by LMGM at 10:14 AM on January 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


Lmgm,

Agreed...and i think its a good thing. It isnt "oh my god, im gay and we will get through these problems and thats how i am" its more like "yeah, im gay, thats all. Lets get back to our normal lives, aight?"

Just people...not freaking cylons.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:28 AM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just people...not freaking cylons.

-10 Nerd points. The word you're looking for is 'fracking.'
posted by schmod at 11:01 AM on January 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Note to self: never read YouTube comments. Ever.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:02 AM on January 27, 2011 [19 favorites]


Is there a good news link on this somewhere? My strident support for brave teens brave enough to come out is being challenged a bit by my unwillingness to watch eight minutes worth of a teen monologuist in the middle of my work day.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:02 AM on January 27, 2011


Ah, found one: here.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:05 AM on January 27, 2011


This poised and lovely woman is a born speaker. I hope to hear more from her some day.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:11 AM on January 27, 2011


I was less shocked that she was gay and more shocked that schools still have assemblies.
posted by madajb at 11:37 AM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wish the video was a bit longer so we could hear the reaction of the entire crowd.
posted by ColdChef at 11:39 AM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


This should get whatever the opposite of the obit (.) is.
posted by nickjadlowe at 12:03 PM on January 27, 2011


!
posted by restless_nomad at 12:08 PM on January 27, 2011


!.
posted by Theta States at 12:12 PM on January 27, 2011


I vote for

:

Because it implies more to come.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:24 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just mean that somewhere along the line in the past couple of decades, North American queer subculture (and popular culture) has developed a genre of disclosure that is stable and recognizable enough that coming-out speeches nearly all have the same pacing, the same turns of phrase ("what I'm about to say is terrifying"), the same themes, etc.
posted by LMGM at 10:14 AM


I read today that the Hubble telescope has just let us see a galaxy that is 13.2 billion light years away. We can nearly lay eyes upon the beginning of time. Today I have also seen that coming-out speeches (civil, human rights speeches) are still necessary, and are only recently common enough that we begin to see patterns in them. Despite our beautiful science, we are not very advanced.
posted by nickjadlowe at 12:29 PM on January 27, 2011


-10 Nerd points. The word you're looking for is 'fracking.'

I didn't want to swear.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:36 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fantastic, thanks for the link.
posted by odinsdream at 12:36 PM on January 27, 2011


I feel like the tone of the speech is a bit off. MCHS seems like a fairly liberal and open-minded place (based on the article and the school's Wikipedia page) to the point where I would actually be surprised if there was any significant anti-gay sentiment in the school's student body.

Kearney is an amazingly good speaker for her age, but the whole thing strikes me as just slightly condescending when you consider her intended audience. Do the students of MCHS really need to be told that homosexuality isn't a choice? And if there is a silence on LGBT issues there, is it because it's a taboo or because most students don't consider homosexuality to be an issue?

It's of course entirely possible that I've misread the atmosphere of this school, and missed the point of the speech. It just bugs me when it seems like people are preaching to the choir.
posted by diogenetic at 12:38 PM on January 27, 2011


Diogenetic - pretty much what I was thinking. From that news article posted by DirtyOldTown:

Assembly adviser and English teacher Brigette Mansell acknowledged Carrillo's reputation as an upper-class white school whose 15-year history includes controversy about a group of students whose embrace of the Confederate flag sparked a student protest and a teen whose parents sued the school because she was disciplined for saying, “That's so gay.”
posted by freya_lamb at 12:40 PM on January 27, 2011


Disciplining a student for saying "That's so gay"?

That's so gay.
posted by tigrefacile at 12:51 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Disciplining a student for saying "That's so gay"?

That's so gay.


You! Principal's office! Right now!
posted by grubi at 1:10 PM on January 27, 2011


I wish the video was a bit longer so we could hear the reaction of the entire crowd.
posted by ColdChef


It's a school assembly so I expect half of the students were dozing or not paying attention in the first place.
posted by Windigo at 1:21 PM on January 27, 2011


Yeah, you wonder if they cut it off so quickly because something untoward happened. Bad editing.
posted by Maias at 1:26 PM on January 27, 2011


A little tedious, don't you think? If I had to choose between a world in which we obsessed about our own problems, and one in which we obsessed about those of others, I think I'd go for the latter.
posted by falcon at 2:04 PM on January 27, 2011


The generational differences can really be stunning.

I'm in one of the later groups of post-WWII queer folk, able to take advantage of the wondrous groundwork laid by people like Harry Hay, Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny and others, but landing in the whole AIDS-rattled despotic eighties, when the far right finally came up with their most marketable argument for the wretchedness of same-sex humpery. Being a dramatic lot, though, our narratives still owed way too much to The Children's Hour and too little to oh, by the way...

[BTW, watch "Ernest & Bertram", if you haven't seen it before.]

In my gay youth group, they used to give us advice, both good and bad, about coming out, based on experience and notions of how things ought to be:

Don't come out at Thanksgiving. It's not the right time.

Don't be self-effacing, and don't back down. Be who you are!

Think out what you plan to say, and prepare responses to what they might say.

Sometimes, the instructions sounded like the instructions on your auto insurance card, telling you not to accept guilt or blame. Sometimes they were full of Up-With-People earnest breast-beating. They were right on about holidays, though. An overwrought admission over mouthfuls of stuffing are unlikely to do much more than spread stuffing around the table.

The media narratives all sucked. I mean, The Boys in the Band is funny and all, but holy shit, what a burnout. Coming out was always just so fucking grim, no matter how much your understanding grandma, Sylvia Sidney, tried to smooth things out. You could come out accidentally and wreck your wife's life, or you could watch queer films where you half wanted to masturbate and half wanted to not be gay. Every sitcom had either a very special gay episode or a very special AIDS-but-not-gay episode or a very special AIDS-and-gay episode. There were some good tries, but sheeesh, the storytelling sucked. The ghost of Douglas Sirk was everywhere, ensuring that you couldn't come out in a fun, happy way.

Even my embarrassing touchstone, a silly TV potboiler starring Marlo Thomas that made me realize, at 10:45pm on February 5th, 1985, that the fact that I'd been sexually active with other boys for seven years was actually a sign that I was in fact, queer, and not just very, very, very horny as I'd previously suspected, was a mess—a lousy, sloppy, TV-ready mess.

"You see," you imagined yourself saying, "I've carried this secret around so long I thought I was crazy!" though you mainly imagined yourself saying it that way because the cute guy on TV said it and Marlo Thomas came to accept him (though it killed poor Martin Sheen, alas). We all had our coming out stories, either the ones we planned or the ones as they actually played out. If you were a born storyteller, you'd think maybe you'd write a book someday, where you could tell the whole sordid struggle of your emergence from the chrysalis of the closet and...

Well, thankfully, though a million books have told that story and a hundred movies have done it, too, being queer isn't about coming out so much now. I mean, it is, and I won't rule out the difficulty of it, but even where it's not easy, there's resources and role models and people to look up to.

Hell, even Gonzo came out. I wrote the Henson people a thank you note, forgiving them for their [politically expedient] denials about the fucking obvious loving relationship Ernie had with Bert. Muppets From Space isn't overtly queer, but if you're gay, watch it. Listen to the language, and watch Gonzo. It's a coming out story, and a nuanced, complex, and real coming out story, capped off with a perfect post-modern ending. Gonzo finds his people, is offered a chance to live a ghettoized queer existence, and chooses to live in the queer diaspora. Am I reading something into? Maybe—but subtext is everywhere. Even talking felt can be profound.

The kids now, they've grown up in a different world. It's still not always easy, but it's not so arch, forced, and blunt as it was. People write their queerness as if it's normative. The gays get to have the happy endings where they dance and make out with Clea Duvall over the complaints of Cathy Moriarty. Sometimes, Scudder's waiting in the boathouse. We have our mindless ghettoes and our appalling lingering stereotypes, but things have changed.

It's such a different world, even than just twenty years ago.

Not too many years ago, when I was writing a long series of essays about my high school girlfriend, Lurleen, that I won't link to because I've just read the FAQ and realized I'm not supposed to be linking to my own crap, I dug out some of the letters she wrote to me in the vortex of the mid-eighties.

Joe-Joe,

I got the letter U sent 2 me and I had 2 cry.


[We were Prince fanatics, you see.]

I M sorry that U had 2 go thru all that fucked up shit b'cause U R gay, and there is a place 4 U in the world! Y don't we run away to New York and B who we R?

[Easy 4 her 2 say, seeing as she was writing me back from Chestnut Lodge, a juvie lock-up where she'd been put away after quitting high school and running off to show up on my sister's doorstep in the Village at 16. We did not run away 2 New York, or at least I didn't.]

Luv U 2 much, Lurleen!

And the thing is, my letter's long gone, thankyoujesus, but I remember it well, all the histrionic excess that you would put into a letter to your ex-girlfriend when you had to confess the second worst secret you could tell anyone in 1985. At seventeen, I was about as articulate as a very special episode of Gimme A Break.

There's a whiff of the old in there, the overstated, the portentous, and the certainty that there's going to be judgment and rejection, but there's also self-confidence and a distinct lack of apparent flop sweat. If I had advice for the girl, it would be to kill the poet voice, but I offer that advice to anyone to stands in front of a crowd with that weird slammy/NPR-y delivery.

She'll look back and laugh, twenty years from now, but I think that's okay.
posted by sonascope at 2:12 PM on January 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


Do the students of MCHS really need to be told that homosexuality isn't a choice? And if there is a silence on LGBT issues there, is it because it's a taboo or because most students don't consider homosexuality to be an issue?

Yes they do -- because whether or not the students do consider homosexuality an issue, it is a very real issue in the wider world. Though many of our oh-so-enlightened straight friends are probably like, "OK, I get it, really, but I don't have even the slightest issue with homosexuality, so can we please stop making a big deal out of things," it is an evolving issue both locally, nationally, and internationally, one that every new crop of kids coming of age has to deal with anew.

Yes, mention it. Yes, make a speech about it. Expand the dialogue about it. Make it personal. Never spare the prevailing majority by assuming they're already on your side. The idea that you'd just be boring someone or preaching to the choir is ridiculous. Preach it, sister.
posted by hermitosis at 2:16 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


It would be really interesting for a historian of rhetoric or performance studies to study this as an emergence of a new speech genre…

Somebody has. This book does rhetorical analysis of how people tell stories of rape, coming out, and recovery. I read this in an undergrad class, but I don't remember it very well, sorry. I think we only read the chapters on rape. It's several years old now so the genre may have changed.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:35 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hermitosis, I'm not saying that she shouldn't have given a speech, or that she should have shut up about her sexuality. Not at all. My issue is with the way her speech is predicated on the assumption that she is addressing a group that has a negative opinion of homosexuality, when what we know about this school suggests otherwise.

And if that is the case -- which, again, I can't be sure of since my knowledge of this school is based solely on what I can glean from the Internet -- then I don't know if saying "shame on you!" is the best tactic for recruiting people to fight for equality.
posted by diogenetic at 5:56 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It strikes me that Kayla is trying to do for others what her Rent castmates did for her: demonstrate that it is possible to be out and open and fulfilled and oneself. It may well be that this is not the kind of school where she is likely to get ostracized for coming out, but let's also remember that she, a product of this school and this community, became so afraid of her orientation that she prayed to God to take it away from her and tried to live in denial for some period of time. It doesn't, therefore, strike me as at all unreasonable that there may be other closeted young people, perhaps at the beginning of that vast chasm between freshman year and senior, who believe that there's no way they'd be accepted for who they are and don't know anyone to whom they can speak about their feelings.

I am straight, but I have known LGBT people of varying ages, and one thing I've noticed is that the coming out process is frequently strange and painful as if completely new every time, not unlike how asking someone out for the first time can seem so fraught with peril despite all the evidence that it's not so bad. The speech strikes me as Kayla attempting to speak back to her 13-year-old, newly-frightened self, and in the process to speak to others who may not yet believe that the world could possibly welcome them. I don't know that she's speaking to some core of homophobia so much as she's speaking to that fear of homophobia that causes young people like her to stay quiet and withdrawn and possibly to believe that the world does not want them to live. Sometimes it's useful to say a true thing baldly and plainly, just to be sure there's no mistake.
posted by Errant at 6:11 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


My issue is with the way her speech is predicated on the assumption that she is addressing a group that has a negative opinion of homosexuality,

She's addressing the world, not just her assembly, and people are still being murdered and hunted for being gay in that world.
posted by odinsdream at 6:16 PM on January 27, 2011


But surely no one in that assembly has murdered or hunted anyone for being gay? They are after all her primary audience, the audience that saw this speech before anyone else.
posted by diogenetic at 6:50 PM on January 27, 2011


If I'm reading that article right, she did her speech seven times! That had to have been draining...
posted by davey_darling at 7:23 PM on January 27, 2011


Disciplining a student for saying "That's so gay"?

That's so gay.


The last time I said that was right after seeing Charlies Angels 2 with my friend. He asked me what I thought of the movie, and I wasn't thinking, and said exactly that. My very, very good friend, who just happens to be gay, became a better friend precisely because he didn't let it slide, and told me very plainly that using phrases like that would negatively affect his willingness to be my friend.

English is a big language. I'm sorry you feel you've lost a vital way of expressing yourself, but there are many, many more options open to you, including at least a dozen that aren't slurs.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:06 PM on January 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


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