Dear Reader, The Bard reports on multi-faceted topics that are pertinent yet unaddressed in the Menlo experience. In 2020, our hope is to put out issues that challenge our worldview and take us out of the Menlo bubble. This issue tackles gender norms and the stigma behind different sexualities. Some people want to identify with their societally assigned gender. For example, a biological female might enjoy wearing makeup, skirts, and tube tops. However, others feel the gender they were assigned is too constricting, and they want to wear clothes that the other gender has the liberty of wearing. A boy might be interested in wearing a dress because he simply likes what it looks like. But society would shun and ostracize him if he put it on because he’d be considered gay, transgender, or a drag queen. But he simply liked the fabric and how he looked in the clothing piece. Wearing a skirt as a boy does not automatically mean you are gay. Wearing a plaid button-up as a girl does not automatically you are a lesbian. Your appearance could reflect your identity, but society has no place to tell you what your identity is because you’re wearing a piece of fabric. It sounds dumb deconstructed this way, but that’s because assigning a gender to cotton is dumb. You can identify with societal norms if you feel comfortable, but remember it is a social construct and you don’t have to play into who society wants you to be. With this issue, we want to urge people to support and stand up for their LGBT+ peers and to accept everyone for who they are. For our LGBT+ peers, we want to provide representation and the acknowledgment that their identities are valid. Thank you for reading this issue of The Bard. As you read, think to yourself: “How can I be an ally?” “How can I evolve my mindset to be inclusive to all?” “Have I learned to accept myself as I am, and if not, what should I do to love myself?” The only way to stop this cycle of homophobia is to shut it down at its source. When somebody says something homophobic and transphobic, call them out. Educate them. Don’t be a bystander. Be an ally. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. Because we do. Isabella & Angel P.S. We’d recommend listening to the playlist on the next page as you read for the full Bard experience :)
It all started as me proving a point. I was seeing the “clothes” my female friends would wear and I wanted to show them that those pieces of fabric were not clothing. But as time went on, I started seeking out opportunities to wear these kinds of clothing. Going into stores and going to the women’s section and trying stuff on in the changing room was fun to me. I think gender expression shouldn’t be limited by being biologically male or female. I mean, who the fuck made those rules anyway?
I cannot keep my head straight or my ideas straight or my orientation straight... I think... What is straight? Lines? But lines are never straight. They always tend to stray and become uneven. Hell, they become circles and shapes and shit. -anonymous
Religion, Divorces, and Bi’s, Oh My! When I saw a girl who made my stomach flip and roll all around the floor, I knew something was up. I was raised Catholic and, although we live in a very progressive area, the rules about who you should be attracted to still lingered around my consciousness. I was taught that love meant a guy and a girl embrace one another and live a happy and carefree life. That’s what I imagined relationships to be like, yet I couldn’t imagine what mine could be like. Growing up in a family mainly comprised of divorces, I wasn’t often given a real life example of what this picture perfect love might be like –– however, I did eventually learn that love has its many different forms and is forever changing, fluctuating even on a daily basis. But with my Catholic upbringing and my unawareness of what love could truly look like, I would often wince whenever I would see a couple kiss in movies or during television shows (don’t ask me why I’m still not really sure –– maybe
prepubescent angst, if that even exists). Yet when I grew a little older and saw two girls kissing, I did not wince –– I became fascinated, intrigued; this was the first time I had ever seen two girls together in a t.v. show, and the idea that you can have the same type of love that straight couples have with the same sex began to materialize into my hopes and possibilities. Though the encompassing internalized homophobia that formed from years of hearing other Catholics saying “you’ll go to hell if you’re remotely gay,” which is really the most uplifting thing you could say to a child who cannot even fathom the many different types of love (I digress), I still couldn’t resist to conceal my longing to like both girls and boys. It’s the same longing you have when you have to choose between apples and oranges, only you want both, and they’re people (you see what I did there? I hope I executed that metaphor properly because even though I don’t really like oranges, I had to choose a zinger that people are familiar with). So when I finally decided to come out to my friend during Menlo’s National Coming Out Day Celebration last year, I began to tear up; I hadn’t even said the two words, “I’m bi” to myself, and to have someone who genuinely cares about me to respond so positively to something so personal made me completely forget about all my worries about sin and the heteronormative expectation of love’s perfect image. I had found a home, a place of sanctuary in the love and kindness my friends offered, and that really makes it all a bit better, doesn’t it?
but like what if I kissed you when we laughed in your car when we were at whole foods when we sat with our knees touching when you smiled when we finished that hard work out when you bought me dinner when we laid in the grass, cloud watching when we couldn’t get work done in coffeebar when we took self timer photos? but i couldn’t because we are just girls, that are friends -anonymous
me in middle school: i am not gay, i only like boys. wow ew imagine being gay me freshman year: i like kinda like her, but it’s probably just a one time thing me sophomore year: ok so i like girls and boys, but it’s more of a 30:70 (respectively) thing me junior year: well maybe i like girls and boys equally me senior year: haha ew what are boys, i only like girls -anonymous
Gender and sexuality at Menlo are weird. To start, the boundaries at Menlo have rarely been broken. We’ve had a few trendsetters (almost entirely girls) who have worn more masculine clothes to school instead of the usual tank top and skirt or flowy dress. And by “masculine,” that’d be wearing a suit to prom or a button-up and loose-fitting jeans to school. They’ve also presented themselves in a “masculine” way, such as cutting their hair very short or not wearing makeup. I talked to a friend who recently cut her hair short when she went to college, and she said, “I could have never cut my hair this short at Menlo. People would call me a dyke.” I’m paraphrasing here, but she also said that if she wasn’t outright accosted by people at school, she’d definitely get wandering stares and whispers behind her back. And God forbid any guy wear a skirt or anything floral. That’s even weirder; it’s downright unfathomable. Another example is when the boys ask the girls to dances. That is, thankfully, changing; however, when girls ask boys, it’s usually made a big deal or because the girls have collectively deemed that a dance season is a Sadie Hawkins. So, gender at Menlo is pretty static. We keep each other’s genders in check. If anybody deviates, they’re labeled as “other.” The LGBTQ population at Menlo feels this sentiment all too well. Yes, Menlo, Atherton, and California are much more welcoming and liberal than the rest of the nation. We are much more open-minded, but that does not mean we have reached complete acceptance. Just because we’re more tolerant than the rest of the U.S. doesn’t mean we can’t still improve and change the societal norms around sexuality in our state and in our school. Tolerance is not acceptance. Saying “I love you but don’t accept your lifestyle” is contradictory, demeaning, and dehumanizing. It is still common to hear boys who proclaim themselves “edgy” call something gay in a derogatory way who then turn around and say they’re “tolerant” of the LGBTQ community. In fact, I myself have witnessed this. I was sitting down to lunch in my sophomore year with people I wasn’t really friends with. I just needed somebody to sit with because back then, I had no friends and was extremely insecure. I was eating my lunch when this boy from my grade in front of me said the most dreaded word for LGBTQ people: faggot. I don’t remember the context; I don’t even remember whether he used ‘fag’ or ‘faggot.’ But that couldn’t matter less. He still used that word, and even though I am not queer, it took me aback and literally made me nauseous. I had been under the illusion that everybody around me was accepting and knowledgable about LGBTQ culture. I didn’t expect that some random boy who thought he was being funny and edgy and non-PC would break my entire world view that day. After he said the word, everybody clammed up. I remember the air was so tense it could be cut with a knife. But nobody said anything. Including me. I sat there quietly and said nothing. Why? Because, as I said before, I was insecure. I was already unpopular, and I didn’t want to gain the reputation of ‘SJW’ by calling him out and being cast as more of an outsider than I already was.
But that’s no excuse. There could have been an LGBT person at that table who was personally victimized by this boy with a twelve-year-old child’s humor. And I became a bystander at that moment because I decided to clam up instead of “sacrificing” my reputation by educating him. Even if he didn’t change his mind (he still hasn’t—most likely because nobody has stood up to him), I would have been making a point that this language is unacceptable. It targets people and puts them down. Words hurt. And this is only one instance of this happening. There are countless more incidents behind closed doors: locker rooms, texts, in the classroom, etc. where people continue to use hurtful language. Maybe it’s because they want to prove how macho/feminine they are.
So I urge you, don’t be like my past self. Don’t be a bystander because it’s the same thing as supporting that boy who used that derogatory word. A queer person could have been there hoping for an ally to help them feel validated, but because I was quiet, they felt targeted. If you have to put down somebody in order to put yourself up, you’re trash. Simple as that. Stand up for people who need your help. Simple as that.
By Isabella Madruga
Maybe it’s because they think they’re being funny by putting people down. Maybe it’s because they’re compensating for something. Whatever the reason is, putting something down to raise their ego is unacceptable in general, but especially in high school, where people are just figuring out their sexuality and are the most vulnerable to verbal attacks.
Homophobia needs to be talked about. But honestly, I am sick and tired of talking about it. As one of the only out people at Menlo, a lot of the time I feel like the responsibility to stand up to homophobia falls solely on me. And don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with doing that. I will fight the ugly beast until it is slain. But it can’t only fall on the non-straight people at Menlo. Just because I am gay does not mean that it is my responsibility and my responsibility only to be advocating for more acceptance. Menlo students love to say that they’re allies. That extends to the institution of Menlo as a whole. The label of “ally” is inherently slapped on every single person at this school when they first join this community to uphold the inclusive, accepting culture Menlo claims to have. And yet, in the daily occurrences of homophobia, the so-called “allies” are silent. People at this school have a real issue with ever being seen as a justice-seeker. It is deeply, deeply unacceptable in our culture. There is this overriding fear that standing up to bullying makes you a “social justice warrior,” a “snowflake,” or maybe even a closeted gay. That cowardice prevents the majority of students from speaking out against the hate that we all know happens on this campus daily. I am challenging you to say “fuck that.” Caring about acceptance makes you cool. Caring about your classmates makes you cool. Caring about justice makes you cool. Pretending to not hear or to not give a shit makes you not just “not cool,” it makes you not the ally you claim to be and it means you directly contribute to the current oppression of LGBT people on this campus and in the general population. I feel like I have said this so many times. Because I have. I have literally said this exact thing so many times to this school. And I will keep saying it until people finally start to listen to me. But I would like to not be saying it alone. Join me.
creative directors & editor-in-chiefs Isabella Madruga
social media marketer & editor Marissa Li writers Mara Lebovitz
Sadie Stinson makeup artists Marissa Li
models Ishi Sood
Griffin Thomas Ishani Sood
Alex Morgan Kate Richardson
Jack Rosenberg Langley Ward