KissIn at the TriMet ticket office

Maika Rich and Jocelyn O’Neal

I was mostly joking when I suggested a KissIn at TriMet in protest of the 2 teenage girls recently kicked off a bus. But it looks as if some folks out there are actually into it having organized a “Use Your Lips” protest scheduled for July 8th at 2p in front of the TriMet ticket office (701 S.W. Sixth Ave).

On some level I have to agree with Byron Beck’s assessment that the incident has become something of a “media circus” and that Ronnda Zezula (mother of one of the girls) is pretty good at keeping it in the spotlight. She even got herself up on Fox News on O’Reilly’s show up against Lars Larson. Believe me I’m looking for that video and would love to post it so if anyone finds it please let me know.

All in all, however, despite the hype, this was a more serious and dangerous situation than Byron makes it out to be. I’m not sure if he was ever out as a teenager but I was. I lived just north of here in Vancouver and used public transportation to take me all over this great city (ah, the old #5 Interstate Ave, I don’t really miss ye). I was very fortunate and had relatively few bad experiences. Most of my peers were not so lucky. Many of my contemporaries were physically bashed, homeless, suicidal. Many are now dead, in jail, scarred. It is perilous, even in a place as seemingly accepting as Portland, to be an out queer teen. And once you leave the city limits, which most buses do, it’s far less safe.

Byrin says these girls have nothing to lose by coming out. I strongly disagree. I’m sure the allure of the spotlight was partially responsible for the girls willingness to be interviewed. But with their 15 minutes of fame comes the threat of retaliation. I even had to delete comments in this blog that would be hurtful to most teen girls, gay or straight. I can’t imagine what people on the street may yell at them or what kinds of hateful messages they may be receiving. Long after this story no longer appears in the news, these girls will have to deal with what it means to be gay in a suburban high school. They are brave, whatever their motives. When you take that away from them you tear them down in nearly the same way that the homophobes do.

2 comments to KissIn at the TriMet ticket office

  • alley

    Just a quick update. I forgot to post the link to Byron’s WW story earlier. Whoops! You need that to understand what I’m saying. Anyway, my bad. It should be up there now.

  • litchick

    I would like to add, from a parent’s point of view, that it is extreemly upsetting to think that one’s child could be put off a bus, heaven knows where, for such a minor infraction, if one can even call it that. If it were a young heterosexual couple, many people whould merely consider the kissing “cute.”

    I think it is unconscionable for a driver to put children off a bus and just leave them. The driver has means to contact authorities if there is serious or dangerous behavior, those authorities can be called, but under no circumstances should minors just be put off and left alone