Stu-dented

Posted on 15 Apr 2009 at 5:47pm
By Daniel A. Kusner Life+Style Editor

Before going to Penn State, Eric Himan never thought about getting any and can’t even remember if he danced at the prom. No wonder high school sucks for kids who are struggling with sexuality


Tania Lezak

ROCKING FRIDAY
Eric Himan performs at the second annual DFW Breaking the Silence Rally on April 17 at 7 p.m. at the Doak Walker Plaza, located outside the northeast corner of SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

On Friday, tattooed gay troubador Eric Himan returns to Big D to play a gig at SMU. This Friday also recognizes national "Day of Silence," which is aimed at combating homophobic harassment and abuse in our schools.

Last year, openly gay eighth grader Lawrence King was gunned down by a younger classmate. And last week, 11-year-old Sirdeaner Walker hung himself with an extension chord after being tormented by bullies who cal
led him a fag.

Earlier this week, Dallas Voice e-mailed Himan some questions to find out what his high school years were like. His memories were so bleak that at first, I thought, "Yikes. Himan must have been the epitome of a loner band-geek without a band."

Then it dawned on me.

Himan was probably an awkward closeted teen, who kept his head down. After high school, Himan went to Penn State, where he picked up the guitar and soon became a soulful folk staple on the LGBT Pride circuit.

But Himan’s high school years seem … utterly forgettable.

In high school, ever get taunted for being gay? I have been confronted by people about my sexual orientation in a passive manner — little comments and hearsay behind my back. But never to the point of being bullied.

Ever bully someone because of your own insecurities? I can’t say that I am the bullying type. I try not to get into confrontation that often. I choose to express my insecurities within the confines of my songwriting.

Were you out in high school? I was not. Back then, I don’t recall anyone being out. There were always people being suspected of being gay, but nothing was ever confirmed till after high school. After playing at LGBT youth centers around the country, I am proud to see more high school-aged students coming out early. I wish we had events like Day of Silence to open the door for more people like myself to come out in high school.

Were you getting lucky with any male classmates? I was trying to understand what was going on with me during high school, so that was the last thing on my mind. I was busy trying to get into a good college and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.

Did you have any male-on-male crushes with classmates? I barely remember high school and feel like I am a different more confident person now. I wonder if everyone is like that when they look back after 10 or more years out of high school? I can’t remember lusting after anyone in high school.

Did you go to prom? Did you dance? Again, I am trying to remember. I went to both my junior and senior prom — both with girls I had known for a while. I don’t remember if I danced. I probably danced. Didn’t everyone?

In "17 Again," Zac Efron’s character gets to re-live high school all over, the smart way. Let’s say you got to be 17 again — how would you exercise the right to be a proud gay teen in 2009? Wow, if I was 17 again and a proud gay teen, I would probably try to organize more safety and attention on allies for teens that are dealing with their sexuality and needing safe spaces to come out and be themselves.

How does a rock-star stud like you deal with out-and-proud underage fans who make passes and throw their GinchGonch underoos at you? I actually have played many gigs for out youth, and it never is about being hit on or anything like that. I go to there to tell my story and play my songs but also to listen to their stories. Growing up, I really needed someone to connect with from the gay community. I didn’t have anyone so I turned to musicians that spoke about these issues — mainly women (Ani DiFranco, Melissa Etheridge).

If there’s a kid who’s getting bullied in high school, how would you advise them on dealing with his/her intimidator? I would tell them to seek out the resources that community centers have — such as my good friends at the Dallas Chapter of GLSEN and Youth First Texas. These community resources can offer them the tools and support to deal with being bullied better that I ever could.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 17, 2009.

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