Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 191

High school lockers

Why high school lockers today? Because they are iconic to us Brits and epitomise American high school.

In the movies and TV series all the romances, arguments, life-changing adolescent happenings take place at the locker. The locker holds private photos, images of people the students wants to be and people they are sweet on, the books always fall out and the doors get slammed in anger or passion, or in the face of the bullied by the bullies. The locker represents USA fears, dreams, and youth.

Think Glee, Grease, the Breakfast Club, Beverly Hills 90210, Pretty Little Liars…..

Ah, the Breakfast Club - a proper teenagers' movie

Ah, the Breakfast Club – a proper teenage coming of age movie

A recent comment on my blog read thus about high school lockers:

“Locker Orientation” is held prior to the start of middle school to give students a chance to learn how to use a combination lock so that they would not be embarrassed on the first day of school. Because, of course, no one is embarrassed, ever, in real life.

Yes, that’s for real! Sigh.

Locker room issues

Locker room issues

Question: why, in the movies or TV shows, is the locker for the characters always at head height and never one of the ones on the bottom row so they are crouching down? Interesting…

If you are interesting character, yours will be on the top row :)

If you are interesting character, yours will be on the top row 🙂

Drive thru beer

Yes, correct. Let me repeat that. DRIVE THRU BEER. There is a place called Brew Thru, and you just pull up, order your beer without getting out the car, and they pop your beer in the trunk/boot of the car. Job done.

Brew Thru, however, does not exist in Maryland – heaven forbid! The main drive thrus are in North Carolina, apparently.

Make mine a Bud Light, please

Make mine a Bud Light, please

Growing up in Maryland

Dale grew up here, and, as a gay man, has experienced a welcome change in attitude towards the gay community. I’m fascinated by the fact that laws across the US differ so dramatically towards gay rights, so I asked Dale to share his story.

This is Dale’s Tale

What was it like growing up in the USA? What kind of things influenced you?

I grew up on a 40 acre farm in Baltimore County, where my Dad and Mom had a construction business and my grandfather farmed about 30 acres of it. My summers were spent working with my grandfather picking vegetables, and occasionally I would get to drive the tractors. I have picked more tomatoes than most people will eat in their lifetime. My sister would work at the produce stand with my grandmother. My grandfather would share stories from his time in the service (WWII) and talk politics with me. We would also talk about cars and all sorts of things. We were really never at a loss for conversation. He would wake me up every morning at around 5:30 AM to pick the corn, after dropping the corn back off at the produce stand he would take me to breakfast at “the dirty spoon” with all the other old men and me. Same thing every day, two eggs over medium, breakfast potatoes, toast and a LARGE chocolate milk.

Dale

Dale

We had a golden retriever that would also spend the days with my grandfather and I in the fields, he loved to pick tomatoes and corn too! That love of the breed follows me to this day as my husband and I have two Golden Retrievers.

Christmas was a huge deal to me growing up. I loved all things Christmas, and that carries through today. My husband and I put up seven Christmas trees.

I had my first trip to DisneyWorld as a boy scout and was mesmerized, and still am a huge Disney fan to this day. We took many family vacations there in my teen years. I did two internships there in college, and that’s where my husband and I met on the same internship program.

I honestly can’t think of anything else too remarkable about my childhood. I had a circle of friends in middle school and high school. We had all the typical high school drama which looking back on is pretty funny now. I met my best friend in middle school, and we are still besties today. I’m gay and she’s a lesbian, funny how that worked out? I’m still close with another friend as well from my high school days.

As a gay man in the US, how do you think attitudes have changed to homosexuality and are there still issues you think should be resolved?

Absolutely things have changed. We are experiencing such a rapid pace of change right now, it’s really quite exciting. Like any other civil rights struggle in our history, people will look back and wonder why these were such battles? When we recently voted in Maryland on the issue of same-sex marriage we had several friends tell us that we changed or influenced their decision to vote in favor of marriage equality. Not that they would have been against it before necessarily, but that knowing us made it that much more important to go out and vote for our right to marry. It was really quite emotional.

Dale and Jeff celebrate their 15 year anniversary

Dale and Jeff celebrate their 15 year anniversary

Do things still need to be resolved? Yes. There are people who still feed into people’s ignorance about homosexuality, that it’s a choice or an illness, etc. People that still try to say that people like me are harmful to children, society, etc. I know that there will always be ignorance, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to educate people on the facts and be open and honest about who we are. One of the best things a gay or lesbian person can do is be open and honest about who they are, that’s the best way to change minds and people’s perceptions.

Is there a real difference in attitudes across the USA to homosexuality?

Unfortunately yes. We happen to live in an area where it is very accepted and I have been out to my family and work for as long as I can remember now. There are other parts of the country where religious leaders continue to pound away at the “evils of homosexuality”, which I find both scary and sad. I am hopeful though that a younger generation will begin to speak their minds more in these parts of the country. The same type of people used to use religion as well to justify slavery or not giving women the right to vote.

Dale and Jeff in Greece

Dale and Jeff in Greece

Having visited Europe, what aspects of their culture really appealed to you?

The rich history, walking on roads that are from the 5th century BC, is surreal. We love us some old marble! I also love finding the “non-touristy” restaurants and asking the server for the most authentic cuisine to the area and for any local wines. We’re both foodies, so that is a major part of our travels, having good food! One day in Italy we were taken to a place where there was a one way road into a small town of 50 or so people, to a small restaurant on the side of a cliff overlooking a vineyard. No one spoke English (except our tour guide), and they just brought out the dishes they were most proud of. The most delicious mozzarella I’ve ever had, and all homemade pasta and fresh vegetables/meats from the area. After our meal, they took us down to a wine cellar that dated back to the 5th century BC. I poked my head into the kitchen to try and tell the ladies who prepared our meal how much I enjoyed it, there was a language barrier for a little bit and they just kept pointing to the host stand, once they figured out what I was trying to say there was lots of smiles and “Grazie!” and “Prego!” and hugs exchanged.

Finding the moments when you can have a conversation with someone half-way (1/3?) across the world is also something I enjoy. When in Turkey we were having a traditional Turkish meal at a local family farm, which was delicious. But what was most striking in our mind was the conversation that we had with the owner of the farm/tour company. She sat down and was talking about the struggle with the young people and their desire for a secular government and the Islamic leaders who were trying to tamp down on freedoms. She started to talk about how proud she was of the young people in her country and how they were standing up for their rights through non-violent protests. She began to cry as she spoke about being hopeful about Turkey’s future because of how engaged the young people were. I mean, how fortunate were way to meet this person, have this conversation and have this insight? Our day in Turkey was amazing, I loved the sights in Ephesus, and learning about rug weaving, and the food at the farm was delicious. But sitting down with these people and having a conversation about their country and their struggle for civil rights and getting someone’s first-hand perspective, priceless.

Yeah, strong Dale!

Yeah, strong Dale!

Tell me five things that you love about being a US citizen.

1 – Our history, looking at how far we have come in such a short amount of time in all manners of things makes me proud.

2 – That we are technically supposed to be a secular society. From the very beginning there was a separation of church and state. Looking at what happens in some other parts of the world with “religious law” and how harmful that is to society is quite scary. To face the prospect of being locked-up or sentenced to death for being gay is frightening.

3 – Our “melting pot” society. We have many friends from different backgrounds, African-American, Korean, Hispanic, Italian, German, Christian, Jewish, Atheists, etc – I know that may not be totally unique to the US, but I enjoy talking to people and learning about their culture, traditions, etc.

4 – We have Walt Disney World! And Manhattan, and Vegas, and the Grand Canyon and the Appalachian mountains.

Now that's a view...

Now that’s a view…

5 – Our quality of life. I don’t think people sometimes realize how good we have it here and how relatively low our taxes are compared to other parts of the world. Travelling through Europe, I people even talk about how much easier it is to accomplish things here if you want to be an entrepreneur for example. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being critical of government or our leaders; I just think that criticism is often misplaced.

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3 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 191

  1. I agree with locker orientation just for the sheer fact of practicing your locker combination so you know it works before the first day of school. Not because you might be embarrassed but to avoid the hassle of having to go to the office to tell someone when it doesn’t. Good golly, we sure cow-tow to our children these days!

  2. And man did I hate having a bottom locker!

  3. Sorry for the multiple comments….

    Dale, I really enjoyed your post and I am so glad that you and your husband are feeling more accepted. I have two goldens as well and I can’t imagine life with out them.

    “2 – That we are technically supposed to be a secular society.”

    I have a feeling you’re going to surprise some people with that comment but I’m in 100% agreement with you.

    Well done!

    Mel

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