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Look out, word here we come! Today's young gay leaders represent the largest cultural shift in a generation. Here are six high achievers who aren't hung up on their sexuality and are determined to make a difference.

Who were you when you were 16 years old? At 16, Travis Shumake was out to his entire Phoenix high school. At a cheerleading squad sleepover, after a female friend confessed that she'd "gotten with" a senior named John, Travis decided that then was as good a time as any to confess his big secret: "I've gotten with John too." It didn't take long for the news to spread through the school like wildfire, but here's where the story takes a distinctly 21st-century turn: By his senior year Travis was student body president. What's more, Travis, now 20 and an openly gay Sigma Chi brother at Northern Arizona University, was elected this past spring as student body president there, by one of the widest margins the university has seen in years.

At 16, Angel Brown was volunteering at SMYAL, a Washington, D.C., sexual minority youth center that was such an oasis of acceptance, Angel decided it was time to come out to her mother--for the second time. She'd tried at 14, but it was dismissed as just a phase. This time Angel was more convincing, and she asked her morn to keep the news private. Naturally, by the next day her whole family knew.

At 16, Ksen Pallegedara was also out to his entire Brooklyn, N.Y., high school after a straight friend had taken one look at how uncomfortable he felt inside the skin of his female body and said, loud enough for the entire locker room to hear, "You know you're a guy, right?" Ksen had indeed known since he was 9 that he should have been a man, but his friend's supportive candor still shocked him. What was less shocking was his rabidly pious Russian mother's violent reaction a year later when she realized the truth about her oldest child: Ksen went to school that morning with a patch of his knee-length hair torn from his scalp. Now 19 and in college, Ksen would live in Prospect Park, on strangers' couches, in a GLBT homeless shelter, and then in foster care rather than ever return home.

At 16, Simone Sneed was a brainy misfit whose open-minded mother let girlfriends (the romantic kind) sleep over, provided they slumbered in separate rooms. But since Simone hit all the sweet spots for bullies-she was smart, loud, overweight, black, and openly gay--she decided she'd suffered through enough juvenile tormenting. She accelerated her class load and graduated from high school one year early.

At 16, Christopher Kawasaki felt rudderless and profoundly unwelcome in his family's Virginia home after telling a friend at his evangelical Christian high school that he thought he might be gay. He was kicked out of the school, and his mother took him to the "ex-gay" ministry Exodus International, but after two sessions he told his mom, "This is never going to work."

At 16, Sol Kelley-Jones was working hard on We Can See Queerly Now, the culmination of the second season of Proud Theater, which she founded with a local Wisconsin gay playwright--when she wasn't working with the American Civil Liberties Union to combat the PATRIOT Act, discussing "person-specific" sexuality with her lesbian moms, or attending her very out girlfriend's small-town homecoming dance.

Travis, Ksen, Angel, Simone, Chris, and Sol are just a few of the standout future leaders of Generation Q, the rapidly growing number of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens and young adults from the ages of 12 to 24 who are leaving the closet earlier than any generation before them.

They represent quite possibly the largest generational shift in how GLBT people view themselves since the Stonewall riots of 1969. They are high achievers who don't define themselves by their sexuality, even shying away from the words "gay" or "lesbian." They are involved in activism at an earlier age and in religion as well.

Yet to hold up these six young people as the poster kids for an entire generation would be disingenuous. For one, they would tell you their lives, on balance, have been favored with more good fortune than those of most every other GLBT youth they know. Speaking with them about their lives, it becomes clear just how preternaturally capable, solicitous, and confident they are--despite suffering through the pesky, confusing insecurities of childhood and adolescence.

It is that luck and those qualities that have guided these six to share an ingrained sense of civic responsibility well beyond what anyone would reasonably expect of them. They all represent the powerful changes their generation has faced.

Read their stories and the words of their parents, their mentors, and civil rights leaders. There's hardship here, to be sure, but there's also a great helping of hope.

Late one Sunday, Travis Shumake and a gay buddy went to brunch at the gay-themed diner Hamburger Mary's in Phoenix. There are more gay people in the world? Travis thought. And they have their own restaurant? I want to work here/He walked up to the front counter, asked for a job, and was hired on the spot as a host. He started two days later.

It was there that Travis was first introduced to the larger gay world, but it wasn't until he started donating to the Human Rights Campaign and attending its fund-raising dinners that he began to plug himself into the network of Arizona's gay leadership. The state has an unusual penchant for electing gay Republicans: Two of them, former Tempe mayor Neil Giuliano and former state legislator Steve May, take turns hosting regular Sunday night "family dinners" to help mentor up-and-coming young gay leaders. Travis, who jokes that he's the only gay Democrat in Arizona angling for public office, has eagerly attended the dinners for years.

Giuliano, 48, says they discuss national politics, gay history, breaking up honorably with a boyfriend, how to establish oneself within a community long before canvassing for votes--the kind of vital guidance he never received when he was 20. He sincerely believes that for Travis and other leaders in his generation, being gay will be even less of a roadblock to elective office than it is today. After saying that, though, he pauses.

"Because things have been relatively easy for them," he says, "[and] they haven't faced any direct discrimination, perhaps they don't see themselves as being limited in terms of careers--all that is very good. On the other side, that makes them a little blind to the realities of the discrimination that still does exist and the struggles that have been made. There's a lot of people who have come before them who have made it possible for them to be out and open and comfortable with themselves in their teenage and college years."

Indeed. The worst experience with discrimination Travis says he's ever faced came this spring, when he ran for student body president at Northern Arizona University, a school of 16,000 nestled in the mountain city of Flagstaff, a liberal enclave in an otherwise steadfastly conservative state.

A friend of one of Travis's opponents stood for an hour in a residence hall elevator, asking students as they rode to and from class, "Who are you voting for? You shouldn't vote for Travis. He's gay.... You know that Travis kid? He's a faggot." Later that day Travis called the opponent; he remembers that his words tumbled out fast and angry: "I've never done anything slanderous toward you, and this is really hurting me emotionally now.... My sexual orientation shouldn't be brought up."

Much of what stung Travis about the incident was the fact that more often than not his sexual orientation isn't brought up, or at least it doesn't bear any of the weight of shame that has saddled so many gay men before him.

"I feel like it is such not a big deal to be gay," he says. "I know that's so weird, but I feel like I'm the beginning of that next generation of people--like, literally by a school year. Like, if I were a year older, it would be different, because I know when I was a junior [in high school] there were seniors that hated me. It's so weird."

He is almost always smiling, and his 6-foot-4 cheerleading-toned body is carried by an ambling, bouncy gait. He is a triple major in political science, hotel and restaurant management, and electronic media--the guy's life is often scheduled to the minute.

Travis initially had a tough time rushing Sigma Chi as a freshman after several seniors decided they didn't want their house to be known as the "gay fraternity." His story will be featured this fall in Brotherhood, the sequel to Out on Fraternity Row, published by The Advocate's corporate cousin Alyson Books.

Travis did eventually pledge Sigma Chi, "and now every fraternity's got, like, at least two gay guys." He revels in the chance to use the fraternal bonds he's formed--and the lingering guilt some feel about how he was treated--to confront some of his brothers' views about, say, same-sex marriage. "I would say [to a brother who is against it], 'So you didn't want me to have kids and ever get married. Thanks,'" he grins. "And I'd walk out of the room and come back in and be like, 'Just joking. But we should talk about this.'"

One topic Travis has not quite broached at Giuliano and May's Sunday dinners is his belief that homosexual acts are a sin. In fact, he tosses out this conclusion so casually that it requires a few minutes of back-and-forth to clarify. Does he mean hooking up with any person before marriage? No, he replies, it is that he's hooking up with a guy. Not that this presents a crippling moral dilemma for him.

"You sin just as much as I do," he tells his straight Christian friends who brings this issue up, "and this is just one of my sins. It has no heavier weight than your sin, and I ask for forgiveness, and you ask [for] forgiveness, and we're good to go."

Travis, one must understand, is the son of a Southern Baptist minister who sat his family in the front pew every Sunday morning and never, not once, preached against homosexuality.

When Travis was in middle school, his mother announced that she wanted a divorce, a small scandal that instantly estranged her from the congregation. He "officially" came out to her just last summer; she had long since figured it out, of course, and now she asks about potential boyfriends. He never got a chance, however, to have the same conversations with his father, who died in a car crash when Travis was 16.

Whatever well of grief and anguish he's carrying over that loss, Travis is adept at skittering past it in conversation. He coped by throwing himself back into his father's church, spending an average of 30 hours a week there as a youth leader, he estimates. He knows every book of the Bible. He recognizes Christian rock songs when they pop on the radio. "I'm your top-of-the-line Christian kid, but I'm gay."

He has, he says, "a plan": graduate in two years, then get a master's in public policy while also securing a husband, "have a kid by 27 and have a second one on the way by 29 and not be my parents, who had me at 33." He then foresees running for office while running the books for a local resort. He says he wants "to be gay, but I want to be normal."

If some chinks can be perceived in Travis's it's-really-not-a-big-deal-to-be-gay armor, it is worth observing that most true leaders are rife with contradiction. In Travis's case, the decisiveness that he displayed at Hamburger Mary's and elsewhere can be a real double-edged sword: He doesn't seem prone to dwelling on an issue before it lands directly before him or all that keen on ruminating over it once he's made his decision.

To wit: He says he never really considered the question "Was I born gay?" until someone asked it of him in college. He thought back to his middle school years spent in an arts school studying dance and hanging with a gaggle of openly gay kids; to his parents' divorce and their remarriage to other people; his father's death; being the youngest of five siblings and the only boy among them (two of his sisters are stepsiblings and one is a half sibling); and going through adolescence surrounded by females. He decided that when it came to his sexuality, "all fingers point to conditioning." He understands it is very much a minority view. "I'm not saying that no one's born gay. I'm just saying I don't think that I was." He hesitates. "Weird, right?"

Travis sighs, his face for the first time subdued and serious. He talks about feeling pressure to always achieve--from whom or what, he's not really sure. Then this slips out: "I think it's because I want to overcompensate because I'm afraid that people won't like me because I'm gay." Sure, his high school voted him student body president. Sure, he has never been bullied or physically intimidated because he was gay. Sure, he has mentors who have taught him about Stonewall. It doesn't mean homophobia hasn't wormed its way inside Travis's psyche.

"I am so proud of being gay," he says, "but can't I be Travis the president? The common thing I get is 'gay Travis, the tall cheerleader.' Can I just not be that anymore? Can I just be Travis who is gay and loves being gay and that's great, it's a part of his life, but Travis who has achieved great things and Travis who has goals and ambitions to make a difference while being gay?

"The one thing that makes me so upset about people is being defined [by their sexuality labels]," he says. "I don't own anything that has a rainbow on it. I just don't feel like I need to wear it on my sleeve. I don't need to impose my sexual orientation on others in such a blunt way. I love to talk about it when people ask me about it. I rode in the gay pride parade in Phoenix two weekends ago--I'm proud to be gay, but I'm saying I feel like it perpetuates the stereotypes when we're defined [solely] by our sexuality."

When she was just 10 years old, Sol Kelley-Jones remembers, she piled into a yellow school bus with her two moms and a couple hundred other gay rights activists and traveled from her hometown of Madison, Wis., to the conservative town of Wausau.

The Republican-controlled state legislature was holding hearings there on a bill against same-sex marriage, and Tammy Baldwin, then an out lesbian member of the state assembly (and now a U.S. congresswoman) had asked Sol's moms, Sunshine Jones and Joann Kelley, if their daughter would give the opening testimony at the hearings.

In fifth grade she joined the national board of Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere, or COLAGE, and she quickly formed a local chapter based in Madison. This month she graduates from Malcolm Shabazz City High School, an alternative school Sol chose for her senior year specifically so she could engage in more activism. She plans to attend Hampshire College in the fall.

In the time between, Sol proudly says that she's been "continuing to speak out at the state level, the city level, the school board, and across all different governmental bodies." Her words spill out with a breathless enthusiasm. At 18 she is as conversant in the vocabulary of the modern GLBT rights movement as any grad student of queer studies. She even makes the point of differentiating between having a queer cultural identity, which she'd lived her whole life, and her queer, or "person-specific," sexual identity, which she's felt obligated to be open about ever since she bad her first crush on a girl in high school.

In a way, though, Sol has never really come out, seeing as she's never really been in the closet to begin with.

From when she was just 5 years old, she can remember this ubiquitous question from classmates, from the press, even from the eyes of strangers who regarded her family in a restaurant: "So what is your sexual orientation?" Until COLAGE, she was the only child of openly gay parents she knew, but to silently tolerate the inequities she and her parents have faced her whole life would have been intolerable.

Activism, speaking out, taking a public stand on her beliefs no matter how unpopular they are--it's all Sol has ever known. She calls it her "beautiful burden." Both Sol and her mother Sunshine talk at length about the often crushing demand, even (or really, especially) from within the gay family community, to be a "perfect family" and to raise a healthy, straight daughter.

"If your orientation is fluid," Sunshine Jones, 53, exclaims with measured incredulity, "it's like, How do you give them what they want?" Jones is speaking of her daughter's person-specific orientation, a description that both prefer to the term bisexual, which, Jones explains, "feels too binding. See, her friends are kids who don't identify as male or female in the queer community, and some of the people that she's been drawn to, they don't feel like they fit one of those [gender] categories."

Sol has known these out queer kids in both her new and old high schools, from gay-straight alliances, during rehearsals with her queer youth drama troupe Proud Theater. Even the middle schools in Madison have started gay-straight alliances, something far removed from her experiences while in junior high. "That was the time when I counted before lunch 32 different mean names used to describe gay and lesbian people," she says. "It was 'faggot' and 'gaywad' and 'lesbo' almost every other world. It was an intense, intense environment."

For Angel Brown, the harassment was more insidious: The pupils at her 300-student Washington, D.C., high school went out of their way to avoid openly confronting her, but that didn't mean they were ignoring her or the fact she was a lesbian.

"There was a lot of quiet intimidation," she says. "General lunchroom snickering and letters passed back and forth [in class]." Angel's family members were, sadly, quite similar in their behavior; her extended family would titter among themselves about her sexuality, but when Angel would walk into the room, they would all immediately clam up--too skittish, it seems, to engage the issue directly.

"I've always been a vocal person, very mouthy," she says. "My family knew who they were dealing with. They had no other choice but to accept me. I would bring girlfriends to family events, barbecues, and reunions. Because they couldn't deal, I helped them by putting it in their face." She giggles infectiously.

Besides, Angel had long since found her calling: work where she simply fit, and fit in.

Back in junior high a guidance counselor had suggested Angel was well-suited for the Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a private nonprofit agency for at-risk youth and family services that, among other functions, sends peer HIV/AIDS educators to area high schools.

"That's where I blossomed. It was my thing, to help people and to speak up for people who can't speak up for themselves," she says. Her service with Sasha Bruce Youthwork led her to SMYAL, the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League, and life only got better. "It was empowering," she says. "They taught us how to be family, how to take care of ourselves and each other."

Now 24, Angel is pulling double duty by studying social work at the University of the District of Columbia and starting a two-year fellowship with the Black AIDS Institute's African American HIV University. It is all the more remarkable considering that she dropped out of high school at 18, completely sick of the constant discomfort she felt everywhere. She subsequently resigned from her duties at Sasha Bruce.

It was a staffer at SMYAL who convinced Angel to start night school and get her high school diploma, and it was at SMYAL that Angel also met Katrina. A 42-year-old lesbian of color, she took Angel under her wing.

Katrina and her partner, Darlene, in effect, became Angel's new, gay parents.

"It is important to have the guidance in my life of other gays and lesbians in the fight," Angel says with deep pride. "You have to have someone to teach you the history, to give you the stories. We don't have enough of that."

When Chris Kawasaki first arrived at Exodus International eight years ago, he hoped the group would teach him how to be attracted to women and be "normal" again. His mother, who bad divorced his father when Chris was 11, had home-schooled him until he was 14; they were incredibly close, and for the three weeks since Chris had been kicked out of his evangelical Christian high school, she had been nothing but supportive.

Exodus was another matter.

"They tell you up front, 'We don't teach you to like women,'" he says. "It just dawned on me at that point: What do I do? Do I not love anyone my entire life? It made no sense to me." After a second 90-minute session that went nowhere, Chris slumped back into his mother's car, drowning in the shame that he couldn't change.

He confessed his dilemma, and she flipped out.

Chris's computer was taken. His room was searched. He was told that no gay people would ever be allowed in his family's house. To his mother, it was as if Chris had mutated into an entirely new person, a stranger--which was, in its way, fitting, since Chris realized that this was most certainly how he would feel in that house for the rest of his life: like a stranger.

What made all of this doubly painful and difficult for Chris was that he felt like he was entering terrifyingly foreign territory without a map.

"I don't think there's enough gay role models," he says. "There are political figures, but they're not necessarily representative of the overall population. Barney Frank is obviously vocal in a certain way, but that's one in 535 congressmen. Even in the media you see people backing off. There's diversity, but there's no courageous 'Look, I'm OK. I can do this; you can do this.'"

So Chris set out to be his own role model, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. Last year he started pursuing a master's degree in public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government; now 23, he has a goal of becoming a powerful aide to a president.

Chris--as well as Sol Kelly--Jones was awarded a scholarship this spring from the Point Foundation, which specializes in scholarships for GLBT students. Vance Lancaster, the foundation's executive director, was impressed with Chris, and he underscores that from his standpoint, Chris's experience is most likely more the rule for his generation than the exception. Lancaster points to a 700% increase in applications since the foundation launched in 2002, which he's convinced is not exclusively due to an increased awareness of the program.

"I also think it's an indication that there are still significant problems for gay and lesbian people who are growing up and coming out earlier," Lancaster says.

"I think there are pockets of acceptance. I think there are also pockets, maybe even larger pockets, where it's still a much rougher road for young [GLBT] kids."

Ksen Pallegedara immigrated to Brooklyn, N.Y., with his parents and two siblings from Moscow in 1997. His mother is Russian, his father Sri Lankan, "and I look like the Cold War mutt from hell," he says with comedic candor. "Russia is a very racist place to live. If you are not Caucasian, you are either a 'nigger' or you are Chechen. We basically came [to the United States] because we wanted to survive."

By the time his family arrived stateside, Ksen had already experienced what he calls a textbook case of body betrayal after looking at his 9-year-old prematurely pubescent female figure in the mirror and discovering it just felt wrong.

Highly adept at science and math, Ksen enrolled at Brooklyn Technical High School, a 5,000-student magnet school so intensely competitive that even after his straight friend had outed him in that girls' locker room, students didn't have time to "worry about beating someone up [for being queer]," Ksen says. Instead, while walking to class he would hear a surreptitious "faggot" or "dyke," depending on whether he could sneak past his sleeping mum that morning without the dreaded female drag.

Perhaps it was his Russian fatalism whispering in his ear, but by Ksen's sophomore year his mothers habitual "firebrand" antigay rants had convinced him he would soon be without a regular roof over his head. Blessed with a thick skin, well-practiced at adapting to sudden changes in his circumstances, and too often a de facto third parent to his two elementary school-age siblings, Ksen had long understood that youthful helplessness was a luxury he could ill afford.

He contacted the Hetrick-Martin Institute, the LGBT social services agency that is home to the Harvey Milk High School. The agency placed Ksen on the 200-person waiting list for the Mi Forney Center, a 12-bed shelter for homeless GLBT youths, the only one of its kind in the whole city.

Two months after Ksen's 17th birthday on the Fourth of July, his mother made it vividly clear to her eldest child that he was no longer welcome in her home--the patch of Ksen's missing hair and scalp took a full year to completely heal and grow back. Within 10 days he was sleeping at Ali Forney, an unassuming place where, he says, "they actually care. They physically will be there, and they will put the emotional effort into it."

Ksen repeats often that he is one of the lucky ones. He stayed in high school and graduated, while almost all the queer homeless youths he knows prostitute themselves to survive. Foster care, he says, is not much better, so he has been working with Lambda Legal to fix New York's foster system after attending one of Lambda's open forums last year.

He's currently in college studying political science and history, "which basically is going to result in unemployment--and drunken unemployment." Ksen chuckles; he in fact loves his classes at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York system, and he's even contemplating six more years of law school to study international human rights law.

"There is a thin line between democracy and mob rule," Ksen observes. He sees the latter fomented by a deliberately stoked fear of GLBT people. "For now I'm doing all I can to change policies," he says, "because change doesn't happen unless you're willing to sit there and talk to bureaucracies and take the bullshit they dish out."

It had been a bad day for Simone Sneed. The "I like you" note she had given Tori, her very first crush, had been passed around to her entire eighth-grade class. Everyone knew, and worse yet, Tori had told Simone off during a very public spat in the cafeteria. "I'm not gay," she exclaimed. "That's gross!"

Simone's mother, Jennifer, had never raised her to think there was anything remotely wrong with being gay. That night she visited her mother--who was recovering from a hysterectomy--in the hospital and came out of the closet. "She was drugged," Simone remembers, "so she just said, "That's OK, I still love you.' And then she fell asleep."

Simone was 13 and out. "My mum is just amazing," she says. "While she was raising me she was working full-time for the state education department and getting her Ph.D. in education administration, and she was so grateful about all of it. Like, 'Oh, yeah, this is no big deal. Everyone raises their kid, goes to school full-time, and works full-time. No biggie.'"

Soon after her daughter came out, Jennifer Sneed jumped on the Internet and found Pride for Youth, a gay youth coffeehouse on New York's Long Island that meets every Friday night, and it immediately became part of Simone's weekend routine. She met her first girlfriend there, Mari, who suggested one day, somewhat innocently, that they should have a sleepover. When Simone brought up the idea, her mum asked if she and Mari were just friends or something more. "Urn, something more," Simone answered.

Jennifer eyed her daughter, who was entering her teenage years wide-eyed and vulnerable like any other 13-year-old. "OK, then Mari should sleep in the guest room." The next morning, while Jennifer and her husband were out on their regular morning walk, Simone enjoyed her first make-out session on the family room couch.

Today, friends and strangers alike marvel to Sneed that she was out so young, but at the time she had only the vaguest understanding that she was blazing onto the road far less traveled.

By high school, however, it became clear to Sneed just how much she stuck out. "Black, overweight, loud, and smart--I was a very strange kid," she says. She wore out-and-proud gay pins to class and talked up gay issues whenever the opportunity arose, and she paid for it with nasty ridicule, such as kids spitting on her backpack and taunting her at the bus stop. Even the other out gay kids in school steered clear of Simone, lest they be branded supergay by association.

Sneed was insightful enough to realize that the only way she was going to feel comfortable inside her school was to form a gay-straight alliance, so at 15 she founded PRISM, or People Respecting Individualities, Similarities, and Minorities--a name concocted by Simone to specifically avoid the direct in-your-face quality of a name that included the words gay-straight alliance.

The group still exists, but by the end of her sophomore year, Simone was done with the pettiness of high school and graduated early, at 16. She entered the State University of New York at Albany. "I felt like I was part of gay America," she says. "I had a girlfriend. I was involved with gay groups on campus. I went to New York City pride."

Then Fred Hampton Jr., the son of a Black Panther leader slain in an infamous 1969 Chicago police raid, spoke on campus and triggered a racial awakening in Simone. Her stepfather is white, she was raised in the white suburbs, her speech patterns sounded stereotypically white, she was dating a white girl at the time, and all her gay friends were white. The realization of this disconnect surprised Simone in how much it unsettled her identity. She felt forced to decide whether she was black or queer (the latter with which she now identifies also), a dilemma she refused to reconcile at the time.

"We live in a culture that forces people to parcel out who we are," she says. "I need a culture that accepts me for all that I am." When she attended the Democratic National Convention in Boston last summer, Simone was struck by how many straight white men were still in power. "There was no out black lesbian who was standing out there in charge for me to look up to," she says, "so I decided I guess I need to do that for myself."

Now 20, Simone is working on a master's degree in public policy at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at SUNY Albany; her ambition is no less than to become governor of New York State.

The drive she feels to achieve, Simone says, can be traced directly to the unyielding support she has felt from her family. "I don't think that my gay peers necessarily have that," she says, "like a supersupportive coming-out. Some of them have gotten really depressed about it. There's discrimination against gay people, obviously. I'm not ignorant to that. But at the same time, if I let all the things that could weigh me down weigh me down, I would never be able to make change for people who are in similar situations to mine, be it that they're black or gay or really tall or if they were at some point fat or any of that, you know?"

Travis Shumake photographed by Jerry Avenaim for The Advocate

Speaking out in Tennessee

All seniors at the private McCallie School--Pat Robertson's alma mater, in Chattanooga, Tenn.--are asked to give a "chapel talk" in front of their fellow students. This year, Jack Harrison, 18, chose to talk about being the first openly gay student in the religious school's 100-year history:

"In my six years at McCallie, I have been called a queer and a faggot ... We've certainly all been called 'gay' at one time or another, but it was never meant as a compliment. What everyone needs to realize is that to someone who is gay, even these statements, often made in jest, are heard and are harmful--and on that note, can I just point out that neither tests nor cafeteria food can be gay--but even flippant statements like these contrite in their small way to the culture of fear and shame that we have created."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:FUTURE GAY LEADER
Author:Vary, Adam B.
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Jun 21, 2005
Words:5547
Previous Article:Dressing the part.
Next Article:Young, happy, label-free.
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