“I gave a presentation about gay people in front of the class” – Interview with a 15 year old religious teenSzekeres Tamás /
All articles have some reason for being written. It’s best if the writer works not because of the boss’ demands, performance anxiety or the pressure of closing dates but out of an intellectual excitement and the wish to share this excitement with others.
Speaking to Boglár, I was swept away by this 15 year old girl. She’s a 9th grader in a highschool from the outskirts, and the other day she was approached by an 11th grader girl. She asked her if she would dance with their transgender classmate because nobody volunteered from their class. Boglár wasted no time in answering ‘Of course!’
I must remark something here, the thing that really piqued my interest: Boglár doesn’t come from a ‘libtard’ background, but from a Catholic school. (Yes, even I, even we have our prejudices. Christian school = homophobia. Well, no! Luckily.)
So I organised an interview with Boglár, with the permission of her mother of course (who’s an old colleague of mine). So here’s the conversation with this extraordinary girl who is exceptionally mature both in her way of thinking and in her manner of speech.
Before you tell us how you became – in your own words – and LGBTQ activist, tell me, because I find it just as interesting: how do people in your school know you’re one?
– This year at a French lessons the question of whether rainbow families are real families came up when we were discussing gendered personal pronouns. This sparked an argument and the teacher was more or less siding with me. They’re the head of the same class this transgender boy belongs to. When it turned out no one wanted to dance with him they suggested someone should ask me if I’d do it.
It’s cool that your school is so liberal. So it’s set that you’ll dance with this trans boy at his prom?
– No. He’d like to dance with a girl who’s shorter than him but with my 175 cm I don’t really fit this criteria. But I’m there as a last resort, if he doesn’t find a suitable partner I’m still there.
Obviously a lot of people might be interested in how you became so accepting of gay people – if I may use this as a general term for the members of the LGBTQ community! Did you have some sort of formative experience?
-Not really, somehow I always felt it was natural that same sex people could also love each other. My first ‘exposure’ was when in fourth grade my seventh grade friend came out to me as bisexual. I didn’t object to that either.
Did this happen at the Catholic school? By the way, how was the atmosphere there? How did you end up there?
– Mum is enlightened and open minded, she was always on good terms with her gay colleagues and talked of them with affection but religion is important to her. Also in our area the religious schools were the best. So even when I was little I went to an Evangelical Kindergarden and from there it was natural to go on to this school.
I suppose there it was unimaginable to suggest a family could be anything but father-mother-child.
-Sure, but I was raised to think we’re all the same, to accept everyone and to help the weak. Even then I was saying things that were over the line for the Catholic values but none of the teachers hurt me for it. Or at least I don’t remember. But a lot changed there too.
– You can speak more freely now. My 11 year old brother goes there too and the other day this family-question came up for them too. And he said he thinks there can be families that have two mums or two dads. His classmates dissed him but he argued and defended his position. That’s my brother! Though he still needs some education because he still uses words like ‘fag’.
But does he use it on gay people?
– No of course, just a filler word like ‘fucking’. I always remind my classmates too that Hungarian is such a rich language, they really don’t need to use ‘fag’ as an adjective when they have a problem, like a failed test.
You’re pretty strict, but of course you’re right. Moving on! I know you got selected for Éva magazine’s Teen Boss programme last year, and even this has to do something with the topic of gayness. Could you tell us about it?
– Yup. The paper had a challenge where teens from 14 to 18 could compete with one article each for an ‘editorial position’. I wrote about how, as a religious person I could accept gay people even if it meant diverging a bit from the teachings of the Bible. Even though mum didn’t help at all they apparently liked the writing because it made it into the top 8 out of hundreds.
What reward did you get besides the glory?
– We wrote and edited half of Éva magazine’s next issue. Three of my writings were published. An interview with Szever Misii, a gay Youtuber guy who does his own makeup and an article about a bisexual highschool girl. In this one I also wrote about where students should turn to if they are being discriminated against at school. The third one was an ‘off topic’ article about the children of divorced parents. Sadly this is a fate I know myself…
Boglár, why are you calling yourself an LGBTQ activist? That’s obviously more than being a simple ally.
– Because I think I’m not only talking about the cause but also support it with action. At school I made a presentation about gay people and everyone congratulated me, even the teacher. Of course there may have been some who didn’t like it, but they kept their mouths shut. I’d like to organise a whole-day event for the whole school around the topic of sensitivity. There we would promote acceptance in a wider sense. Because it’s not only about gay people but also about those with physical and mental disabilities, and I’d also like to include the question of race and origins.
What do you think, do your efforts, and the efforts of people like you pay off?
– Yes, certainly. I notice that my schoolmates, but also people in general are more and more accepting. Of course this doesn’t show on a legal level. Not yet anyway.
Would some people think you’re only being provocative and you’re doing this for attention?
– I don’t know, nobody tells me so. But it’s true that sometimes I act provocative for the good cause. For example when I wear my shirt to school that has ‘The wold has bigger problems than boys who kiss boys and girls who kiss girls’ printed on it. Nobody harassed me over it.
So you’re only ever met with support or – presumably – hostile silence?
– There’s an exception, my extra math teacher. They have a very strong dissenting opinion, for example they hate the Pride. When they say things like that I can go on debating them for three quarters of an hour…
…And then of course you have no time left to do maths!
– Unfortunately that just means they stay for longer, I can’t wriggle out of that. But despite our wildly different opinion I really like them. It’s nice that they treat me as an equal which is unusual for an adult.
While we’re on the topic of education, let me pose the most hated adult question: what do you want to be when you grow up?
–I’d like to go on in this direction. Sociology, sexual psychology, gender studies. I want to study these, and rather abroad than at home, as you can’t even go for the last one in Hungary right now, as we know. And anyway, I’m looking for an adventure, I want to see more of the world.
Boglár, tell me one last thing: because of the way you’re campaigning for gay rights, don’t people think you’re a lesbian?
-No because they know and see that I have a sweetheart. A boy.
Translated by Zsófi Ziaja