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January 16, 2008 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-01-16

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1 8 The Michigan Dai

ily- Wednesday, January 16, 208
Coming out an d getting out




or the first 19 years of my ued to embrace my differences and

life, I lived in Bryan, Ohio.
You may ask, "Where?" To
which I say, it doesn't really mat-
ter. The point is that I lived in a
small podunk where Wal-Mart
was the place to be seen. To make
matters worse, Bryan is a haven for
racists, h.mophobes and Republi-
cans. Needless to say, "acceptance"
is not in the vocabulary of most
Bryanites. My hometown had one
openly gay person named Jimmy
the Gay Midget.
Growing up gay myself was
something of a challenge.
I had a supportive family,
though. My parents had wanted a
son that played football and dated
girls, but accepted the fact that
I would never be that kind of a
man. When I was young, they let
me prance around the house in an
oversized t-shirt that I made into a
dress and watch "Rainbow Brite"
and "She-Ra: Princess of Power."
As I grew older and recognized my
homosexuality, my parents contin-
From page 6B
- no matter how deformed - are
something to celebrate. Bailey and
Queen both attended this year's
gathering, as well as the conven-
tions of the last several years.For
professors of their academic vein,
the Words of the Year nominations
is a chance to reunite with
word-nerd friends and foes.
An opportunity to champion
their favorite new usages in
hopes of having one named

defended me when necessary.
At times, it was very necessary.
The community that I grew up
in shunned any form of expression
that differed from the norm, and
I will be the first to tell you that I
was about as far from the norm as
the location for this year's gradua-
tion ceremony. It was not so much
my sexual preferences that ruffled
feathers, but my lack of conformi-
ty with gender roles the town had
stringently observed since the con-
struction of the first chicken coop.
At my high school, you were
called gay if you were on the swim
team. Then I came along and joined
cheerleading, show choir, dance
and quiz bowl. Under the cir-
cumstances, I caused myself to be
viewed by peers as more flaming
than Elton John dressed as Mari-
lyn Monroe. And for my choices, I
received my fair share of teasing.
Luckily, most people also thought
I was crazy and would take a nail
gun to their cars if they fucked

with me (which I really might have
Nonetheless, high school was
fun. I never made true friends but
I decided I would work very hard
to leave that place behind and
never look back. I excelled aca-
America isn't the
best place to
realize you're gay
demically and found myself with a
wide range of opportunities.
When I chose to come to the
University of Michigan, I did so
based on the strong engineering
program and general prestige. By
happy accident, I also found out
that it is one of the gayest schools
in the nation. At orientation, I met

spawned the winning word of 2007, ple have taken the term to mean
"subprime." The primacy of sub- anything that could be better, such
prime, used to describe a risky loan as a class or a boyfriend. It's this
or mortgage, along with the list's versatility that marks a noteworthy
other terms, suggests the anxiety word, Queen said. A good new word
and news coverage surrounding fills a lacking niche - much like the
a down-and-out realty market. word "niche" once did.
Another term on the list, N.I.N.J.A In a change from the society's
stands for a potential borrower first nominations convention, in
with no income, no job or assets. 1990, many nominations in recent
But subprime's influence doesn't years have had roots in Internet
end at real estate, Queen said. Pen- slang and global warming rheto-
kY d'7,

Patrick and formed a quick attach-
ment to him - we had mutual
interests in Spice Girls, ponies and
glitter. With that, I was more than
pleased with my college selection.
As corny as it sounds, the Uni-
versity has given me an environ-
ment in which to flourish and
become the person I wanted to
be. It's a part of the college expe-
rience that often gets obscured
by academic and career-oriented
concerns, but as much as any-
thing else, self-discovery is what
we're here for. For me, that meant
becoming comfortable with myself
and getting involved in LGBT
issues affecting campus and the
community at large.
As a senior looking back on my
experiences in Bryan, Ohio, I'm a
little jaded. In my most formative
years, I was refused a welcoming
environment. When I occasion-
ally go back, I still feel angry and
hurt. But I'm proud that despite
the hardship, I was able to be pub-
lically fabulous and - as I recently
ric, like lolcat and the prefix green.
But not all of buzzwords of the '90s
have become obsolete, even if they
aren't used as often as they could
be. The nominations of 1990 fore-
saw the character of the Internet
age (the most useful word was tech-
nostupidity, meaning loss of ability
through dependence onfmachines)
as well as forewarned of a current
political plight (the word of the
yearwas Bushlips, meaning insin-
cere political rhetoric).
Though the American
Dialect Society's nomina-
tions generally draw the
most diehard linguistic
junkies, anyone can vote.
Queen said someone -ho
seemed like a collegc itu-
dent attended this ycat to
make a case for thc ,crb
"She really thought
it captured youth or the
spirit of youth - alas, she
wasn't successful," Queen
Who ever said young
people were the only ones
responsible for crazy

found out - a role model to other
gay people in my town.
Last year, a former classmate
sent me a message on Facebook
telling me he was gay. (He had sat
next to me in choir for three years
and I never had a clue.) He told
me that I had inspired him in high
school, that I gave him the courage
to come out and that he has been
in a relationship for more than a
year now.
More than just a jab at Bryan
residents who had hoped against
hope that I was the only gay boy in
town, his letter empowered me to
continue my involvement in LGBT
activism and to never sacrifice
who I am.
Growing up in Bryan sucked,
but I'm glad I did - if only because
encouraging gay people like my
classmate to embrace sexuality
and identity is perhaps the most
meaningful work I could do.
-Kolby Roberts is a senior
in the College of Engineering

oinic fheir
nd ce'ii
'itery mccii
erabie cc Ieau sat

SThursday, Jan. 17
* Sunday, Jan. 27
7 p.m. at 420 Maynard Street

. Da1a

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a w
. -_~
, ,
,# g
., L r

The tac t in process
involvesi c atiiores iCe most
useful, most euphemistic,
most unnecesiary and usu-
ally a special category - the
year that Tom Cruise and
Katie Holmes were with child
that last grouping was Tom
Cruise-related words, this
year is was real estate lingo.
The special category

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