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I am not the

I am not the


A year fighting for equality has left our high school diarist with lousy grades and an e-mail box full of anger from bisexuals who misunderstood his last posting. Don't we have better ways to expend our energy?

Satre is a senior at Notre Dame Academy, a private Catholic high school in Middleburg, Va., and the founder of the Virginia LGBT activist group Equality Fauquier-Culpeper. He writes journal entries for The Advocate.

Herein lies both a confession and a rebuttal.

I am an actor, an activist, a freelance journalist, and a senior in a Catholic high school. Among other things I am gay. The difference between where I am now and where I want to be is that where I am now, I am perceived solely as gay; where I want to be is a place where sexual orientation does not define my character. Maybe that is outside of my small Catholic school in Middleburg, Va. Maybe it is outside of my hometown of Culpeper. Perhaps I need to leave Virginia and find some other home where sexual orientation is not a deciding factor for a person's persona.

For just over a year I have been working tirelessly alongside thousands of my colleagues around the country to further the movement for equality. I speak of equality for local cases in regard to gender discrimination, specifically for women who have been targeted in the workplace or who have been subject to domestic violence. I speak of equality for the black community, especially in Culpeper, as an active member of the Culpeper Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I speak of equality for people of varying economic status, especially in the LGBT community, defending their voices in the press and in private meetings with national organization officials. I speak of equality for the youth of the United States, especially in Virginia and around the East Coast as an advocate for teenagers and people in their 20s suffering from societal barriers because of their sexual orientation.

I have not told anyone this, not even my parents. Last year, my junior year of high school, which is also known as the cardinal year in high school, I knowingly allowed my grades to slip. I went from having a solid 3.5 GPA to becoming a C student in most of my classes. For the past few weeks I have been filling out college applications, one in particular to a dream school of mine, and I know that last year's grades are not suitable for any of the colleges I want to attend. Admissions officers will look at my shameful transcripts and will not care about an explanation as to why those grades slipped.

Last year, my junior year in high school, I missed more school days than any other student. I traveled around the East Coast, making frequent visits to Richmond, Va.; Washington, D.C.; and New York City. What for? Myself? Not a chance. I did it for you, the person reading this article. I did it for the kid I met 15 minutes ago down the road who was kicked out of his house because he came out as bisexual to his single mother. She said that bisexuality was not only an abomination to God but did not exist. I did it for my friend who was kicked out of his house after telling his father, a Christian minister, that he was going to have a sex change. I did it because anyone in my position would have done it. I did it because it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. So what if my grades slipped? I probably will not make it into my dream school. I have probably hindered my career in theater. But you know what? I. Don't. Care.

I am happy and content with what I have accomplished both alone and alongside thousands of activists and supporters around the country. I will sleep well at night knowing that I was able to remind that bisexual kid as he stood in his new apartment with his new life that bisexuality is an innate trait just as heterosexuality is. I will wake up every morning knowing that my friend was finally able to live her dreams and have a sex change.

Yet something funny happened the other day. Moments after an article I wrote on bisexuality was published on this Web site, it was misread, misquoted, and thrown on several other community message boards, news Web sites, and blogs. My in-box filled with letters from all over the country from people complaining that I was insensitive towards bisexual people, and in particular to women.

There could be nothing further from the truth.

What I said in that article was true. As stated in my article, a particular group of girls was using the word bisexual to describe their sexual orientation, simply because they believed it was cool.

How do I know? I have known these girls for three years. I know for a fact how they like to adopt a variety of different things, even if they do not believe it is true to them, simply because it looks or sounds cool. The moment I received the first letter questioning the validity of my statements, I spoke with the girls at school. I told them I had eavesdropped the other day and was wondering if what they had said about being bisexual was true.

"No," one of them laughed, rolling her eyes, "but guys think it is hot." She shrugged, and they started to walk away when I stopped them and asked them the same question again.

"I told you," she said, raising her voice, "guys like it. Besides, I would never think of a girl in that way."

I did not ask these girls to prove to anyone else but me that I was right about what I said: Some people use the word bisexuality even though they are not sexually attracted to people of the same sex. The reason that bisexuality is so often placed in question is because of how some people use the word. Whether or not these girls really are bisexual, they have stated more than once that they are using the word for attention. This is completely unfair to real bisexuals, who have to explain constantly to the gay community, their friends, their families, and the media that bisexuality is innate, just like heterosexuality is.

My article was intended to point out one reason that people question whether bisexuality is truly fact or fiction. The girls mentioned in the article and quoted above have said that they are not really bisexual but are using the word to get attention. I did not--in the article or in any statement I have made--question whether bisexuality is fact or fiction. I do not need to question what I already know and believe, as I stated in my August 31 article: "Bisexuality is an innate trait just as homosexuality and heterosexuality is."

You may ask what, exactly, that I find so funny about receiving all those letters. Allow me to explain the irony: After spending a year sacrificing my time, my grades, and quite possibly my chances of getting into my dream school, I was ridiculed and criticized to the point that online news outlets were painting me as being "sexist" and "biphobic." Reporters called my personal cell phone questioning my position as an LGBT advocate.

I think it is a gift that we have the liberty to express ourselves freely in the press and have the freedom to question. I do not mind when people criticize me in what I say and do. People can and have made me out to be a joke, in their opinion, and quite frankly it does not bother me. But what does bother me is when my colleagues, my fellow activists and supporters of equality, turn their backs and speak ill of me as if I were one of the people condemning bisexuality. Just like many of you, I have been out there working unrelentingly to ensure that equality is no longer a dream, but a reality.

We are not in the condition in this country where we can afford to ridicule each other over a matter that has been blown out of proportion. I do not want an apology. I do not want pity. I want understanding. I want people who think bisexuality is farce to read my article and realize that bisexuals have to face a society that mocks their existence. It is unfair that bisexuals have to be told they are faking because of a small minority of people who use the word for other reasons. It is even worse when the gay community conforms to the idea that bisexuality is bogus.

My dream school is an environment where I am not defined by my sexual orientation but by the artist that I am. That is what I call home. I did not make the minimum grade requirement last year to be admitted to the school because I was so incredibly involved in a beautiful movement for equality. It really is not all that commendable. It is what anyone else in my shoes would have done. It was the right thing to do, and I will never regret it. My parents probably will not understand that, which is why I never told them. Every time someone asked how I kept my grades up in school, I lied.

It does not matter to me whether someone is 30% gay and 70% straight or vice versa. Quite frankly I do not care what gender you are attracted to, if any, and neither should the government. I have given a lot to this movement. We all have. My LGBT friends, especially my bisexual friends, have found it very offensive and hurtful that people would ever question my support of the bisexual community, especially considering what I have done this past year.

It's past midnight. I have made myself clear. It is time for me to go to bed, just as it is time for this misunderstanding to be put to rest. Goodnight.

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