"they showed me a picture of two oranges and a pear;
they said 'which one is different, it does not belong?'
they taught me different is wrong."
- ani difranco

This essay is about homophobia in my school, and in society in general. I was asked to "Describe a conversation you've had that changed your life." Or something like that. Welp, here it is:

Life-changing conversations are not something that happen every day, but when they do, they are not something I forget quickly. One such experience was when my friend Andrew, who is gay and out, told me about his experiences with discrimination. (Being openly gay at our high school is like throwing yourself in front of a firing squad; the verbal abuse is horrible, and there is nothing that you can do about it.) He recounted being called derogatory names, and once he was even spit on by another student. The jocks tease him all the time, saying things like "Hey fag," or "Hey homo, meet me in the bathroom...". One studentís comments got to the point where Andrew filed a complaint about him, which the school administrators dealt with. This action made his tormentors more careful, but no less vicious. They started saying "you homo... wner" (as in homeowner) so he couldn't say they were harrassing him.
Although many people in our school are accepting and even pro gay rights, those who are homophobic make simply surviving each day a battle for gay students. This conversation opened my eyes to what can happen when ignorance is allowed to flourish, and it has since become one of my goals to educate people in order to alleviate some of the ignorance I see around me. It amazes me that although there is such a campaign against racism and sexism, homophobia has been almost ignored. Homophobia is no less damaging than any other kind of prejudice, and sexual preference is no less a part of a person than his or her gender, skin color, or ethnic background.
I have been made more aware of this kind of discrimination since my junior year of high school, when my friends and I started a Gay-Straight Alliance at our school. The club has been successful in providing an environment where "Itís okay to be gay," and in brainstorming ways to educate the other students and reduce homophobia in our school. I and one of my friends wrote, illustrated, and put together a pamphlet about the club and its mission, and included a section debunking popular stereotypes, a book and movie list, and some hotlines to call for support. It is amazing what people can do when they put their minds to it; in my mind there is nothing more powerful than a passionate person working towards a goal. So I guess the moral of this whole rant is, find something youíre passionate about and do something about it! Rowr! The end.


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