A boy's own story: in one year, 18-year-old Paul Chandler has endured a world of trouble for being gay--even though he's never had sex. (People).
It didn't matter. Sex would happen eventually, he thought, when he felt ready. No, Paul was excited because he was going to finish school as an openly gay teenager. He was going to make a difference.
The year didn't work out that way.
In August, Paul sent an E-mail to The Advocate. "Hi," he wrote, "I'm 17, gay, and I'm about to spend my senior year at ... the nation's oldest all-male boarding school. I'm planning on being out and starting a GSA there. I was wondering if you'd like to do a stow about it."
The magazine gave Paul a column to write, "High School Diary," for its online edition. It also gave him Ids Anglo name--as a minor without parental permission, he couldn't legally write under his given Korean name (which The Advocate still feels should be kept private).
By the time of his first column, Paul's world had shattered. He was kicked out of school--not for being gay, the headmaster claimed, but because Paul had broken his promise to keep it a secret. Paul says he made no such promise, but his parents, more unhappy that he was gay than that he'd been unfairly expelled, took the tuition-refund hush money they were offered and took Paul home to attend public school in Colorado. In November, they kicked him out of the house. Paul called social services, who explained to Mom and Dad that they couldn't put a 17-year-old out on the streets.
So Paul finished high school as an unwelcome guest in his parents' home, not allowed to eat their food, forced to pay rent. They warned him to be gone by the time he turned 18.
He got all A's that final semester and attended his graduation alone.
On Paul's 18th birthday, a Sunday in June, he attended his second gay pride, this time in Los Angeles. He'd driven there from Denver a few days earlier with a trunkful of books and a whole lot of clothes (he likes to shop). He had a job already lined up, and he found shelters to stay in while looking for a place of his own.
He still hadn't even been kissed by a boy.
It wasn't sex that made Paul's life a struggle. He suffered some of society's harshest punishments for being gay without a single roll in the hay. And it wasn't sex that led Paul to drive 1,000 miles and live out of his car. If his goal had been to hook up. he could have done that in Colorado.
No, when Paul danced at L.A.'s gay pride festival on his 18th birthday, he wasn't cruising, he was celebrating those oh-so-American virtues of individuality and liberty. For perhaps the first time, he had the freedom to explore his sexuality, whether that involved having sex or not.