Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Just so you know where we are headed, if you buy the line "my kids don't have any problem with it, they think we are homophobic"

Alair is wearing a tight white tank top cut off above the hem to show her midriff. Her black cargo pants graze the top of her combat boots, and her black leather belt is studded with metal chains that drape down at intervals across her hips. She has long blonde curls that at various times have been dyed green, blue, red, purple, and orange. (“A mistake,” she says. “Even if you mean to dye your hair orange, it’s still a mistake.”) Despite the fact that she’s fully clothed, she seems somehow exposed, her baby fat lingering in all the right places. Walking down the sterile, white halls of Stuyvesant High School, she creates a wave of attention. She’s not the most popular girl in school, but she is well known. “People like me,” she wrote in an instant message. “Well, most of them.”

Alair is headed for the section of the second-floor hallway where her friends gather every day during their free tenth period for the “cuddle puddle,” as she calls it. There are girls petting girls and girls petting guys and guys petting guys. She dives into the undulating heap of backpacks and blue jeans and emerges between her two best friends, Jane and Elle, whose names have been changed at their request. They are all 16, juniors at Stuyvesant. Alair slips into Jane’s lap, and Elle reclines next to them, watching, cat-eyed. All three have hooked up with each other. All three have hooked up with boys—sometimes the same boys. But it’s not that they’re gay or bisexual, not exactly. Not always.

Their friend Nathan, a senior with John Lennon hair and glasses, is there with his guitar, strumming softly under the conversation. “So many of the girls here are lesbian or have experimented or are confused,” he says.

Ilia, another senior boy, frowns at Nathan’s use of labels. “It’s not lesbian or bisexual. It’s just, whatever . . . ”

Since the school day is winding down, things in the hallway are starting to get rowdy. Jane disappears for a while and comes back carrying a pint-size girl over her shoulder. “Now I take her off and we have gay sex!” she says gleefully, as she parades back and forth in front of the cuddle puddle. “And it’s awesome!” The hijacked girl hangs limply, a smile creeping to her lips. Ilia has stuffed papers up the front of his shirt and prances around on tiptoe, batting his eyes and sticking out his chest. Elle is watching, enthralled, as two boys lock lips across the hall. “Oh, my,” she murmurs. “Homoerotica. There’s nothing more exciting than watching two men make out.” And everyone is talking to another girl in the puddle who just “came out,” meaning she announced that she’s now open to sexual overtures from both boys and girls, which makes her a minor celebrity, for a little while.

When asked how many of her female friends have had same-sex experiences, Alair answers, “All of them.” Then she stops to think about it. “All right, maybe 80 percent. At least 80 percent of them have experimented. And they still are. It’s either to please a man, or to try it out, or just to be fun, or ’cause you’re bored, or just ’cause you like it . . . whatever.”

Read it all.


Dan said...

You could see this coming. Gay is cool, so it follows that young people especially will be lured into this activity.

Anonymous said...

omg... I think I'm going to be sick!

Darel said...

The sexuality of the "creative class".

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and if you believe this is a common thing the world over, I got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. Give me a break. As a youth pastor, I can tell you that this isn't typical. Sex, yes. But this is not a very typical view of kids' lives these days.

Shrimp said...

Dear Youth Pastor;

I'm glad for you that you can dismiss this out of hand (becasue what? it is not a common thing the world over?)

This is what the bright and gifted in the premiere New York magnet high school are doing. They are "cutting edge." But they share the same music, games, internet your kids do.

It may be at least a year or two before you hear one of your kids use the term "ambisexual."


Anonymous said...

Dear Shrimp,
FYI - a few of the kids in my youth group go to that very high school so I'm quite aware of what's going on. The magazine article is sensationalizing it. Read the other stuff that's put out in that magazine and you'll see it it's based on it's shock value.

Shrimp said...

Fascinating. Are you the pastor or youth pastor?

Either way I'm wondering why you are playing it down?

New York magazine is like any media, certainly has to two tasks, on eto sell more copies, but also, what they say must have enough truth in it that they are not sued for libel. New York is no more shock value than Newsweek,no?

Anyway, why play it down, or what are you saying?

Seriously, please say more, what is going on as far as you are aware>

Anonymous said...

New York magazine isn't really Newsweek, that's for sure. It's mainly aimed at young, fast, good looking, wealthy people and those who wish they were. It's got about as much news value as Cosmo - lots of sex and drugs, but with lots of coverage of real estate transactions and society events.

In a nutshell, the reason why their story shouldn't be taken too seriously is that it isn't about "real life" it's much more about a fake society life. Very few folks in my congregation would fall into the descriptions found in New York magazine on any level. Perhaps at some of the more glitzy Manhattan churches, but not a rough-and-tumble urban church like the one that I serve.

Most of the kids in my church are hardworking, mind their own business and end up in their share of high school trouble. They're busy trying to impress their friends, figure out who they are and discover where they fit in in life.

Yes, some of them are going to experiment, but most people if they are honest do, indeed, experiement in life. It may be drugs or sex or booze or whatever. There is a certain amount of "going off" that occurs when one has yet to enter adulthood (and even well after one becomes an adult).

I'm not saying that this experimentatio is good, but it does have some benefits (much to many in the church's dismay). Basically, how is one to learn not to touch the stove if one never discovers that the flame is hot? There's nothing more rediculous than preachers who give a long list of "don't do this or that's." Instead, the way that I've found works is to explain why doing something isn't a great idea - and not just to say that it's written in the Bible. That doesn't get very far with kids in my experience. Actually talking with them, telling them about why certain things are good and others are bad and really giving them honest answers - that's a much better way to go about it.

As for the kids in the New York mag story, I would imagine that they don't have too many adults in their lives who they can actually talk with. In my experience (and I'm only talking for myself), most of them don't have parents who take much of an interest in their lives. If they do go to church (which is rare at best), they tend to have pastors who don't want to take the time and effort to listen to them. So often we jump to judging before actually taking the time to listen.

In the case of this article, I'd recommend that we listen to what's going on before judging it - before saying that this is some left-wing liberal agenda at work. Just listen to what the kids are saying, imagine why they would be saying what they do and wondering what their lives are like.

Very few adults actually let kids talk for themselves and then respond to them honestly without rushing to judging them. Do I think that what's described in that article is okay or good or right with God? Absolutely not. Would I want my kid involved in it? No. But do I think that it's got some shock value and gets conservatives all bent out of shape - you bet. So, perhaps, just perhaps, they are doing this to get our attention - to say that they have something they need to talk about.

I know that this as gone on way too long, and I apologize for that...but I thought I'd at least give you as much of my thoughts on it as possible in the hopes that perhaps someone might take the time to listen and ask kids what's going on in their live and what they think about it.

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...