Saturday, March 14, 2009

School News...

I was perusing the photocopied newsletter for the elementary school of my partner's children. There was the typical inane material there for the benefit of a select few, self-indulgent crap about the lunch lady and more money-sucking announcements about a "spring picture day". What is all this about? When I was in elementary school, there was ONE picture day. You remember it. Some obscure, weird room in the school where you otherwise never went was converted into some innocuous studio, complete with squeaky, unbalanced metal stool and unrealistic sky or leaf backdrop. There was also the creepy photographer - some weird guy in brown double knit polyester pants and worn-out unpolished shoes. He always looked at you kinda funny, and now that I think about it, probably decorated the room in the apartment he shared with his mom with pictures he took of little boys.

There was the minimal photo preparation. A teacher might lick her hand and try to get that runaway hair to stay in place. Or they might get a community hair brush and unnaturally style your hair to make it look like someone put a salad bowl on your head, like a helmet, and cut around it. Regardless, it was rarely flattering, there were no retakes and your parents bought the crappy package, because what message would it send to you if they didn't? But now, 21st century elementary school children get 2 school pictures a year, and we the parents get roped into spending more money on shit that gets thrown in the cupboard.

So, once I got over this tirade (it was a night, let me tell you!), I flipped to the back of the newsletter, and there it was. As I am always looking for a sign that gay rights might reach a new pinnacle of acceptance, I was not expecting a public elementary school to be so embracing , but it could not be denied. The newsletter section was entitled "Super Singers" and listed there were the names of 5 boys and 3 girls. Now, I believe that everyone who is gay should be afforded the right and privilege to make that coming out announcement at a time that suits their own personal journey, especially when they are in grade school. It can be a wildy confusing time. At the tender age of 8 through 11, these children are just coming to terms with issues like tying their shoes and trying to look cool, even though they secretly still have a favorite blanket, or sleep with the light on.

And yet, the school newsletter has a regular section that might as well be titled "Future Homosexuals of America". You remember the kid from that grade, the boy who relished in choir practice, begged for the solo and always offered to help out the middle age, single male choir teacher. I know I do. This was the kid who was sexually confused, tried to fit in with the other boys, playing football and driving the souped up Camaro Iroc back in 1985. But then, on the first day of our senior year, he showed up at school completely transformed, wearing white linen balloon pants and a turquoise blazer with the sleeves rolled up, a la Don Johnson on Miami Vice. Instead of dating the prom queen, he now WAS the prom queen. And it can all be traced back to the 4th grade choir. "Super Singer". Why don't you just tattoo "FAG" on the poor kid's forehead? Its an equivalent brandishing for a boy. And shouldn't we just get to the point? "We're here, we're queer... The Super Singers"!

1 comment:

Rigel said...

Oh my word.So MANY memories...so MANY possible comments. Where to begin?

By the way, my word verification for this post is "fartlin." Yeah. Fartlin.

"Spring Pictures"...absolutely a money making scam... I also had ONE picture day a year.

Same leafy or pastel-colored background.

Same creepy photog.

We were all given individual black, disposable combs.

I remember that metal stool. I was always afraid of falling off of it.

I also hated having my head titled by the photog at a funny, UNCOMFORTABLE angle.

Those sessions with the photog were life preparation for sessions at the DMV getting your picture taken for your license. Ahh...the days before digital photography.