Corey Clark is a senior at Governor Mifflin High School not far from here in Berks County, PA. Of course, when I saw him on the cover of Time last October in an issue about gay teens, I had no idea that he was so close by. This week, our local news reporters at WGAL put together a story that took up a good part of the Wednesday evening news, interviewing Corey and others on a story about gay youth.
Out and supported by the staff at his high school, Corey talked about his experiences with the ex-gay movement, coming to terms with himself and coming out at school. But my favorite line in the whole segment was when Corey announced:
It’s OK to come out. You shouldn’t be so afraid. Things aren’t like they were in the ’80s.
I chuckled aloud as I recognized just how profound that statement was.
I was outed at the end of my junior year in 1986 and spent my entire senior year as the only openly gay student in my high school. No Will & Grace, no L Word, no K.D. Lang, no Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
Ronald Reagan was in denial about AIDS and Boy George and I were about the the only queers anyone in my little Kentucky town knew. Oh, except for that rumor about Rod Stewart and the stomach pump…
I’m happy that kids like Corey have the wherewithal to stand up and have their pictures plastered on the front of Time. We’ve made a lot of progress in the past 20 years. And God willing, things won’t be like they were in the ’80s ever again.