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Did It Get Better?

Contributing Writer Last summer, a group of prep school students “on the spectrum” (LGBT) met in New York City to discuss being gay at boarding school. Coordinated by a Phillips Andover graduate, the meeting took place at a small cafe in the Village. I will never forget the response when I said I went to Deerfield.

Expressions of shock and sympathy quickly overcame the faces of my formerly jovial acquaintances. One girl even said, “Oh my God, is that even allowed there?” I laughed and began to explain what the last year was like, what it was like to come out, etc.

The same gid asked me why I had decided to stay, why I didn’t transfer to Andover, whose accepting community is well- known among prep-school gays. I couldn’t give her a good reason as to why—the truth is that I very strongly considered leaving Deerfield. Andover, among a few other schools, could offer me something that I couldn’t find at Deerfield: an established gay community, somewhere where I wouldn’t feel like such a rare specimen. I decided not to apply in the end, but some mornings I wake up and wonder if that was the right choice.

Now when people ask me what it’s like to be gay at Deerfield, I say it’s fine, but that’s it: fine. Why can’t it be better? Why does Deerfield not have a gay community like Andover? Why is it that there are six openly gay students at SYA China, but only one at Deerfield, which has a student body roughly 20 times larger? There seem to be a million answers to these questions, while at the same time none. Maybe Deerfield will be a different place when I get back, but probably not, as change comes neither easily nor quickly to the Academy. Gradually people have been coming out to me in private, which gives me hope that Deerfield has a chance.

Maybe that is the reason why I stayed. Underneath the layers of criticism that I hold for Deerfield, maybe my time there has given me hope that Deerfield has a fighting chance at becoming something better than what it is now. Or maybe I just really like the color green, who knows.

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