Our Gay Youth ~ YE GAY OL’ VALLEY

By: Dani Langevin – June, 2017

This past school year I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a number of wonderful experiences. It was my first year teaching at Methuen High School, I won over a large group of students who were hell bent at the beginning of the year on hating me, and was co-adviser of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). All of these have been incredibly humbling, educating, and rewarding. Earlier in the year I wrote a column expressing how impressed I was with the knowledge the members of the GSA had about their community and its diverse population of gay, straight, lesbian, pans, trans, bi, and so many others. It was quite an eye opening education for me. Most of these young men, women, and people meet the challenges of societal condemnation, confusion, and acceptance with courage and resolve. That being said, they are teenagers who are prone to be overly emotional and annoyingly self-involved, but I love them all for their youthful optimism.

On May 20th, my wife and I accompanied a number of the GSA members to the Boston Youth Gay Pride parade. We took the train into the city and descended upon Boston City Hall Plaza with a shrill level of excitement. This year’s theme was “Stronger Together”. Not nearly as big as the adult version of gay pride, it was still quite a good turnout. Everyone was donning their gay apparel, wearing all the colors of the rainbow, wrapped in the flag of their individual sexual identity, tutus, wigs, painted faces, high heels and Doc Martins. It was a visual cornucopia of queer folk.

We got there a few hours before the festivities started to check in and find out where our position would be in the parade. Much to my chagrin, but not surprise, nobody had registered us for the parade as my officers assured me we had been. However, because the LGBTQ+ community is incredibly opened minded and not as rigid about protocol, rules, and deadlines as our heterosexual counterpart is, they happily gave us a spot in the first wave of marchers. Awesome. We lined up under an arch of rainbow balloons and off we took to the streets of Boston. As soon as it began, so did the chants. “1,2,3,4 open up your closet door. 5,6,7,8 don’t assume your kids are straight.” My favorite was the gay version of Marco Polo. Someone screams, “Marco!” to which everyone replies, “Homo!” Love it.

I don’t know if anyone in Boston came explicitly to see the parade, but being a major city, the streets were lined with onlookers clapping, cheering, filming, snapping pictures, or just looking a little confused. We had wonderful police escorts along the way and we were met with no sense of negativity at all. At one point, I stopped to attempt to take a picture of my rainbow flag flanked by the State House, but struggled. A very nice man with broken English offered to take my picture. Graciously I accepted. How wonderful perfect strangers can be, not just that one man, but also the thousands who supported us along the parade route.

We returned to City Hall Plaza where the after party began. Music was blaring, t-shirts and other memorabilia were bought and, like teenagers do, screaming, jumping, hugs and kisses commenced. I don’t think I saw anyone without a smile on his, her or other face. At one point, one of my GSA members screamed, “I’ve made so many new friends today!” Isn’t that what being a teen is all about?

Some of us took the 2:45 train home while others stayed a few hours more. We almost missed our train having to literally run through the streets of Boston to get there on time. Panting and sweaty, we collapsed in our seats with our newly purchased rainbow flags and t-shirts. It was a quiet ride home. We all agreed that we had a good time and are looking forward to returning next year.
I am blessed in so many ways: I’m gay, in love, I love my job and I get to mentor the LGBTQ+ youth of Methuen.

Who could ask for more?