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00-064 Interview with teen gay activist (Fwd)

Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000  [GLB-NEWS] "Interview With a Teen Gay Activist"

Interview With a Teen Gay Activist
by Crusader

He may have recently celebrated his 16th birthday, but Anthony Colin definitely does not fit the "wet-behind-the-ears" label I often tolerated when I was his age. For those of you just tuning in, Anthony is founder of the Gay Straight Alliance club at El Modena HighSchool in Orange, California, an area of the state that is so staunchly conservative that it would take me hours (or perhaps days) to prepare a time line of the events that have lead to its reputation.

Needless to say, parents, students, and school board members pulled a "don't ask, don't tell" and adopted a NIMBY (not in my backyard) position: It's okay to be gay, just don't be gay at El Modena High (which some now refer to as "Homodena High").

To make a long story short, as a result of Anthony's kick ass activism and litigation, a federal court judge (in Orange County, believe it or not) ruled in January that the school board must allow the club to meet. (Anthony was 15 on the day of the court hearing).

He recently told an Orange County Register newspaper reporter, "I'm not a courageous young man and I have my good and bad sides." Even so, if there is such a thing as "Gay Person of the Year Award," Anthony should be the recipient!

I recently conducted a no-holds-barred e-mail interview with Anthony to find out about his likes, dislikes, aspirations in life, and why he wears purple nail polish!

CRU: Who was the first person you came out to and what was his / her / their reaction?

AC: The first person I came out to was when I was in the 6th grade. I was 11 at the time. She was my best friend, and she told me that she already new. I was very happy that she took it so well and I was relieved to finally have told someone my big secret.

CRU: Orange County is described by some as "Behind the Orange Curtain" because of its reputation for being oppressive. With that in mind, did you have any fears or concerns when you began to form the Gay Straight Alliance?

AC: No. I already new what kind of society I was surrounded by, and was not afraid to finally open up my mouth and confront them. I had been prepared for facing these bigots all my life, and, unfortunately, they were there to not let me down. But instead of them just coming after me quietly, they had to go through the rest of my family, and that is when my family saw what I face on a daily basis.

CRU: Did those fears or concerns change once the federal judge ruled in your favor? If so, how?

AC: The judge knew what the OUSD [Orange Unified School District] had done was wrong, and continuously pointed that out to them. I was very happy and relieved with his decision. By allowing us to meet, he showed the rest of Orange County that there was nothing wrong with the club.

CRU: A lot of the articles written about your case almost always have quotes from school officials and / or board members voicing concerns that the Gay Straight Alliance will provide a forum for students to discuss sexual activities. Do you believe these adults may have one-track minds?

AC: Yes. I have confronted all of them personally, and to say the least, they really are some of the most ignorant people I have met in my life.

CRU: This interview reminds me of when I was 16, three members of the Anaheim Union High School District board threatened to sue me because I stated in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper that the members were "behaving like animals in a circus." I know I benefitted tremendously as a result of both my parents providing me with immediate moral and legal support. In your case, both your parents (and siblings) appear to be very supportive. Describe how that has helped you with both the legal battle and homophobic reactions to you.

AC: Well it has just made this fight a little easier than it would have been with just me fighting it. I have been fighting the homophobia all my life. It is sad to see my family get so upset when they hear a word that I am so immune to.

CRU: I literally had tears in my eyes when I read newspaper accounts of you being called names and rocks being thrown at you. What was your reaction to these unfortunate incidents?

AC: Well I always had this type of pity for the people who did such things. But I never had any hard feeling towards them. I did report such incidents if they became physical or violent, such as the rocks and when students tried to shove me down the stairs, but as far as the name calling, I never had the drive to get people into trouble for something so small.

CRU: Are parents of other gay teens you know supportive of their orientation and /or the Gay Straight Alliance? If so, in what ways?

AC: The parents that I know who have a queer child are very supportive. They personally thanked me for making it easier for their child to go to school without having to be scared or fear for their life while on the campus.

CRU: What did you feel at the very moment you learned the federal judge had ruled in your favor? Were you surprised? Shocked?

AC: I was relieved, and when my mom came to my school with the bouquet of flowers and the rainbow balloons, I broke down into tears. And I just repeated, "it took 6 months, 6 long months."

CRU: If you know, what do you want to be when you "grow up?"

AC: I am an entertainer. My place is on stage, to make people happy, to motivate others to do what I am doing now, to move people. THIS DIVA NEEDS HER STAGE!

CRU: I read in the Orange County Register newspaper that you wear purple nail polish, which coincidentally happens to be the shade I wear most often. Is this a common thing among teenagers, or are you one of the few males that wears colored polish at your school?

AC: I am the only male at my school who wears polish, and that is because I am my own person and I don't feel the need to explain or justify who I am to anybody.

CRU: What are your favourite brands / colors of nail polish? Do you ever put glitter on top?

AC: Wet n' Wild: black, purple, dark red, anything dark. And yes, I do put glitter on top (sometimes).

CRU: Do you ever get any strange looks or interesting comments about your polish?

AC: Of course. You can't expect to walk down the street in conservative Orange County and not get a few looks or comments, because you are not trendy like every other teen.

CRU: What is your favourite food?

AC: Anything that won't make me throw up.

CRU: What is your astrological sign?

AC: I am a Pisces

CRU: Are there any other social issues you feel strongly about? If so, please describe.

AC: I feel strongly about oppression, and always have. Someone who is being put down or made fun of because of the way they dress or the way they were born makes me very angry. And that is why I fight. I also want to make this world a little more open to things people don't understand, and also to help those who unfortunately cannot help themselves.

CRU: What is your favourite quote?

AC: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."

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