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Orange Bracelet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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Other guys have said it's weird that I wear a bracelet that a homosexual gave me. When I started wearing it, I found myself having to answer questions about my sexual orientation. When asked about the bracelet, I often laugh or say, “You're right – it's dumb,” but that's not what I'm thinking. I don't try to explain it to them; it would be too hard.

My family has always been ­accepting. Despite my parents' mainly conservative views, a family friend has made them aware of the perspective of homosexuals in America. After growing up in this environment, I had quite a shock when I entered high school. I was amazed at what I witnessed in my overpriced, Republican, Wonder Bread community – prayer groups preaching the death of gays, teachers turning a blind eye, and terrible slander from the uneducated, all of which went unchecked.

In my third year in marching band I became a drum major. I met all 230 band members and was suddenly seeing things on a broader scale. I attended a camp exclusively for drum majors from across the country. While there, I observed that most marching bands serve as a refuge for a school's misfits, those brave few who dare to be themselves. Oddly, my own Pleasantville-style band didn't fit this stereotype. But just when I thought I was leading an army of suburban clones, an “unconventional” freshman arrived.

His name was Mason. With spiky blond hair, clear-polished toenails, and pink designer glasses, he left no question as to his sexual orientation. True to the stereotype, he was a flautist, and a darned good one. Something about him struck me from the start. Not once did he do anything with the intention of being offensive. He was never self-righteous, defensive, or overbearing. So much was said behind his back, it must have been impossible for him to miss, and yet he never showed any hard feelings. In a world of disgusting conformity, I found myself admiring the most hated person I knew.

When Mason approached me on our trip to Disney World, I was surprised. He held out his hand and inside was an orange leather bracelet. Across one side he had inscribed “Drum Major.” The presentation was bold, fearless. Members of the band were everywhere, watching in horror, repulsed and confused.

I wear the bracelet every day, but not because I am gay, and not because I particularly like ­orange. I wear it because it's more than a bracelet to me. It's my way of saying to the world that against this tide of disappointing conformity, Mason will not stand alone. I silently profess to all who witnessed our exchange that a failure to understand something should not lead to persecution of it. Every day I put on the orange bracelet, I am reminded that the happiest, bravest person I know is also the most cast out.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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BeatlesFreak This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm
I too am in David's marching band, and Mason wasa great kid. It was abig misfortune when he decided to go toadifferent school, I was trulyinspiredby him as well.
~D Ellis
 
kennedy_rowzz said...
Sept. 28, 2009 at 2:47 pm
I loved this article it was great.It really inspired me. I just want to say that what you did was one of the kindest things a person could do, be a true friend to someone.
 
Michela M. said...
Jun. 24, 2009 at 9:46 pm
This is beautifully written and quite inspiring. I'm really happy that I took the time to read it.
 
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