Coming Out, Coming Home

The evening of its Homecoming game this year, a Rutgers stadium of over 50,000 observed a moment of silence in the loving memory of Tyler Clementi, who, earlier that week, decided to end his life after discovering that his roommate secretly broadcasted his encounter with another man.

The afternoon of the LAHS Homecoming game, the student body will instead roar in applause as openly gay members of court walk out onto the football field and a pair is crowned King and Queen.

And these candidates, just like all the others, have been highlighted by the student body for making outstanding contributions to the school community. Throughout the month of October, they have been included in student hype about who is coupled together, jokes about romantic drama, and debates over who will become King and Queen.

That these candidates are respected by their peers enough to make it onto court, regardless of their sexual orientation, says a lot about the level of tolerance at the school.

It’s easy to forget in the tolerance of Los Altos that hatred is still an issue in schools across the country, and the tragedy at Rutgers is only another painful reminder of this truth—thousands of high school and even college campuses struggle to understand or even acknowledge homosexuality.

Gay bullying doesn’t just affect gay students. Many students acknowledged by their peers at these schools consider declining recognition to avoid judgment and hatred. Once a part of a Homecoming court, even if they are comfortable with themselves, these students stand in direct confrontation with violence and bullying. Students like Clementi weren’t even openly gay before being criticized for their sexuality.

As a school, we can’t deny that some homophobia still exists, but we should be proud of how far we’ve come with regard to treating gay people just like anyone else. At LAHS, gay students can return each year to a community that embraces them, and this year’s Homecoming is a testament to that fact.

We’ve come a long way, not just for gays, but for every group that has ever felt alone or misunderstood. But we can’t be complacent; we still have to fight for equality both here and in other campuses. And maybe someday, stories like that of Tyler Clementi will be a memory, and only that.