What a day! First dancing infants and now gay children getting down together at outrageous preteen homo dance parties in Oklahoma!
Well call me old fashioned, but I’d like to know where the gay identity would be without a healthy dose of childhood shame and secrecy?! In the good old days of 1993, 12-year-old gays like me had to subscribe to the International Male catalog under our sisters’ names, meet furtively in AOL chatrooms and get our own homo-asses to the gay pride parade without being chauffeured by our supportive mommies! Oh, and also we didn’t have boyfriends in our pre-algebra class.
What’s the world coming to?! According to Benoît Denizet-Lewis, the New York Times’s most behatted gay correspondent (whom you might remember from his last NYT Mag article about annoying gay husbands), sixth grade is now nothing but a giant rainbowed-out orgy! And NO, OMG Readers, you’re not invited!
In his cover story for this weekend’s Times mag, Denizet-Lewis chronicles the new gay world of middle school, which sounds a little bit like San Francisco in the ’70s, complete with confusing lingo and a cruisy
restroom homeroom scene.
A few years ago, when I first heard from educators that young adolescents were coming out of the closet, I visited a middle school in Northern California where three eighth graders (a gay boy named Justin and two heterosexual girls, Alison and Amelia) took me on a tour of the school. They wanted to show me how many students were gay, bisexual or “confused,” but they wanted to do it discreetly — or as discreetly as middle-schoolers can…
…[Amelia] suggested that they “come up with some code words on the down low so we can tell you what’s up without anyone knowing what we’re saying!” (They settled on “paw” for gay and “woof” for bisexual.)
As we walked past the gym, a group of boys came rushing out. Justin pointed to a short, muscular eighth grader in a baseball cap. “Paw!” he said.
Alison looked surprised. “Isn’t he a woof?”
“No, he just thinks he’s a woof,” Justin said.
Amelia looked confused. “What does woof mean again?”
A minute later, they fixed their gaze on a boy sitting against a wall listening to his iPod. “Paw,” Alison told me. “I mean woof!”
“Yeah, he’ll make out with anyone,” Justin confirmed. “Totally bisexual.”
“No, he’s not!” Amelia said, apparently distraught by the news.
“Oh, stop getting all mad just ’cause you like him,” Alison told her. “Everyone knows he’s a woof.”
After pointing out a handful of girls who are “definitely woofs,” Alison turned to me and recalled a recent “lesbian moment” of hers. “I totally had the hots for this girl in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ ” she said with a giggle. “I was, like, ‘Whoa, I’m really attracted to you right now!’ ”
“Jesus was hot in that, too,” Justin offered.
As we came to the end of our tour, we approached a handful of boys sitting in a circle on the pavement eating lunch. “Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof!” Justin said, barely able to contain himself. “They’re all woofs.” One boy heard him and turned to us. “What’s a woof?” he asked us…
… I was certainly confused trying to keep track of it all, but Alison told me not to worry. “We can’t even keep up with who’s gay or bi and who’s into who, and we go to school here!” she said.”
Bless their woofy (or is it paw-y?) hearts! What are these little sparklers going to do when they’re adults and realize that they grew up without shame, stigma, or sexual hangups? They might actually be able to have normal, healthy relationships! How YAWNSIES will that be!?
(Coming Out In Middle School)