Last night, Your Humble Blogger attended a Draguation, that is, a sort of completion ceremony for my Perfect Non-Reader’s summer program with the statewide organization for sexual and gender minority youth. It was profoundly beautiful and moving. The teenagers and their counselors read their poetry, sang and danced, interspersed with guest drag queens and dancers performing, with a couple of brief speeches by grupps, notable for being informal and enthusiastic rather than magniloquent and condescending. Mostly, though, it was a half-dozen or so queer teenagers—that is their term, which I happily use, but we all understand it’s not a completely uncontroversial choice—half-a-dozen or so queer teenagers, gay or lesbian or bisexual or asexual or trans or nonbinary or otherwise queer-identifying, and their parents and their friends and their supporters. Some community elders, too. The board of the sponsoring organization, and the guy with the local LBGTI-themed public radio show, and the matron (I guess) of the local drag queens, and a local writer or two as well. In some sense it wasn’t a Big Deal; it’s the sort of thing a bunch of summer programs have at the end of August, with content appropriate to whatever sort of program it was. But this was hers, and ours.
I am reminded, now and then, that thirty years ago there was nothing like a Draguation. Nothing. Not a thing. No space for teenage queer folk to go to learn the skills of being leaders, to safely discuss their culture and their aspirations, to bask in the love and pride of their parents and their greater community. Not where I was, anyway, and I think not even in those places that were less narrow-minded and rejectionist. There were no Gay-Straight Alliances in the schools anywhere in the country; I don’t think there were any programs to cultivate LGBTI teenage leaders. I mean, there were terrific people doing terrific work—I don’t mean to suggest that Queer history began in 2000, or when PFLAG was founded in 1973, for that matter. But large organizations, openly working with young people in the glow of public approval, with corporate sponsors and state funds, all aboveboard and tax-deductible, that was not around when I was seventeen.
The world is a strange and complicated place. Some things get better, some things get worse. Some things seem to get better and worse simultaneously, somehow.
But for this evening, there was love and pride and respect and delight, dignity and hope and daring and silliness, there was skill and beauty and bravura and company. And so much love.
I know it’s a thing middle-aged people do, demand that everyone appreciate things that they didn’t have when they were young. But damn, I want everyone to appreciate organizations like True Colors. I often feel, these days, that the world is turning to shit; the truth is also that the world is blossoming.
Kids these days. We are so lucky to have them.
That was the last time I spoke with President Trump,