September 27, 2024

At Work

The Dangers of Writing at Work, II

On Friday, you stayed late working on some essays about online internet porn that you hope to publish in a well-respected online culture zine. You thought you had printed and collected all the pages on your way out late that night. Early Monday morning, a colleague comes to your office with some of the pages: "Umm, dude, are these yours?--I didn't read them, I swear!" The heading at the top of the first page says, "College Fuck Fest". You thank your colleague for saving your life, but wonder how he knew to bring them to you first.

In other news, totally started crying at work today reading the Washington Post's series, Young and Gay in Real America, about a seventeen year old boy coming out in rural Oklahoma.

Michael is 17 and gay, though his mother still cries and asks, "Are you sure?" He's pretty sure. It's just that he doesn't exactly know how to be gay in rural Oklahoma. He bought some Cher CDs. He tried a body spray from Wal-Mart called Bod. He drove 22 miles to the Barnes & Noble in Tulsa, where the gay books are discreetly kept in the back of the store on a shelf labeled "Sociology."

While the rest of the country is debating same-sex marriage, Michael's America is still dealing with the basics. There are no rainbow flags here. No openly gay teacher at the high school. There is just the wind knifing down the plains, and people praying over their lunches in the yellow booths at Subway. Michael loves this place, but can it still be home? What if the preachers and the country music songs are right?

"Being gay, you'll never have that true love like a man and a woman," Michael says, standing against his truck as Merle Haggard mixes with the backyard whippoorwills. "Hearing all the songs about a man coming home from work to his wife's loving arms, you never hear of gay couples like that."

He sets his ratchet down. "Do you?"

It's like with The Secret. You just want to scream because you hope so strongly that everything will be okay for them, and what can you do to help? Sometimes it's like you think you are watching a car crash unfolding, and you want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them and tell them everything will be cool.

Posted by Jason at September 27, 2024 12:50 PM

No, Jason, it's not like with the Secret, not even close.

Michael, the gay boy in Oklahoma, has a mother who has been divorced twice, and a sister with a child born out of wedlock. The mother says we have to support the president to protect the family unit.

With that kind of hypocrisy out there, what hope?

On the other hand, the pastor of mom's church came to her before spouting hell-fire on gays and said he didn't want her to take it personally. That's Harvey Milk's point: when people actually know gay people, they have a difficult time maintaining their prejudices, except in the abstract.

So we need more gay people in Oklahoma. On the other hand, what person gay or straight in their right mind would stay there one day longer than necessary? Get out, Michael, drive your truck over the border now.

And send the Secret to Oklahoma.

Posted by: glen at September 27, 2024 03:57 PM

I cried when I read it, too. (Did you see the photo essay?)

I have been to Oklahoma for my nieces wedding several years ago. When I came back to Mpls, I told folks that when they were saying "go to hell," they didn't know it, but they meant Oklahoma. Glen is right -it's a good place to be FROM.

It was the Cher CD that turned the faucet on. I envisioned Michael driving down one of those endless, dusty, highways edged in stumpy trees to go buy a cher CD at Pamida. Another car wreck we could have saved him from.

Posted by: Robt at September 30, 2024 06:35 PM
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