Friday, December 17, 2010

The Neutral Zone gives gay teens a platform

So by now you've probably heard about Graeme Taylor, pictured above, the coughboygeniuscough gay 14-year-old from Ann Arbor that marched on over to the Howell School Board meeting on Nov. 8 to defend Howell High School economics teacher Jay McDowell. And you might have seen Taylor on MSNBC. Or "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." Or (let's get serious) the video of his speech on

What you didn't hear was that Taylor wasn't the only student to speak up; there were nine teens that drove from the Neutral Zone in Ann Arbor to the meeting. If you don't know what the eff I'm talking about, you can get some background from my article in The Voice (muhahaha) or a past post.

While it's always cool to see an Ann Arborite making national news, it would be nice to see the Neutral Zone get some props. Until Taylor was on "Ellen," I thought that he had found out about the situation in the news, gotten pissed and somehow went to Howell on his own (remember, he's 14, so that's more impressive than it already is).

I don't think it takes away from Taylor's actions to acknowledge that there were nine other students that spoke after him, nor that the Neutral Zone organized the opportunity for the group (which is Riot Youth, the Neutral Zone's teen LGBTQQA organization). If anything, it just goes to show what a confident, well-spoken (and absolutely adorable) kid he is. Like I told my friend Aubrey, interviewing him was like listening to Obama give a speech for first-grade class president. But Riot Youth has been doing activist work for gay rights for years, and it's too bad that they couldn't get more recognition for their efforts amidst this media clusterf*** (sorry Grandma).

Besides, the Neutral Zone is Ann Arbor's baby. Anytime I bring it up, young Ann Arborites chomp at the bit to tell me about how they went to Queer Prom or just hung out there after school. Even folks (bringin' the word back, people) that have only been there once will tell me all about it, sans shame. They're proud of it, and they want to show that they owned it back in the day.

So here's to the Neutral Zone. Pour one out, since that's all you can really do during finals anyway.

Photo courtesy of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."


  1. Speaking of the Neutral Zone, they just put together a Kickstarter project to help fund their fourth compilation album put together by high school students:

    There's 5 days to go and they're trying to raise the last $400 of the $2000 they need to get the project funded. And with the way Kickstarter works, they need to hit their goal to receive any of the money.

  2. Thanks for the heads up Phil. I remember when I used to play at the Neutral Zone all the time because my band couldn't get any other gigs.

  3. I have the CDs to prove it! They're down to their last 60 hours with $139 to go!