Greatest Weekend of My Life pt. 2

Wait! Make sure you have read part 1

Imagine a 200-person auditorium with a stage that has a table in the middle. This table has got three chairs, three microphones, and three name cards. The panelist to my right was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto. She is a medical sociologist and has more data on LGBT topics than any person I’ve ever met. I enjoyed a cab ride from the airport to the school then lunch in downtown Andover with her. Elise, my panel colleague, was the first person on this trip that I bonded with. We plan to stay in touch and hopefully will be able to guest write for the blog some time. Elise, if you read this, thank you for some great conversation.

To my right on the stage was a New York Times writer and author. Unfortunately I didn’t meet him until the dinner preceding the presentation. Despite not speaking with him for as long as I did Elise, I enjoyed conversation with Benoit just as much. Benoit, if you read this, thank you for that question during the panel and for giving me some stability during the panel. I don’t know if you saw, but your and Elise’s calmness helped me out quite a bit.

Next we panelists asked each other questions and answered audience questions. I felt such pride in answering questions and seeing the attentive faces of over one hundred people in the auditorium. The panel was my first time speaking publicly. I don’t want to brag, but I think I killed it.

Phillip’s Academy is by far the most hospitable school I have ever been to. When I first arrived at the Andover Inn, Mr. Tipton and Gabbi greeted me warmly and introduced the itinerary for the night. During the pre-presentation dinner, I met two GSA leaders and other faculty who helped Gabbi through the program. At the presentation, even more people introduced themselves. I felt like a celebrity because everyone wanted to meet me and hear what I had to say. After the panel, my friend Tobi introduced me to his friends and roommates. I was afraid that people who didn’t know why I was here and didn’t know me well might blow me off; that tends to be the situation in Atlanta and in public school. However, every single person Tobi introduced me to shook my hand and greeted me. I went to sleep that night feeling like a damn king, despite sleeping on a couch that felt like an uneven cobblestone road.

You might think the panel was the highlight of me weekend because it was the reason I was flown up. However… yeah, there’s more. On Saturday I woke up with plenty ahead of me. In the early afternoon, I walked over to Commons with some of Tobi’s roommates (my temporary roommates) and ate breakfast. Normally eating breakfast with people you don’t know is sort of awkward. Again, PA’s students proved me wrong. After breakfast, we met up with some more kids and hopped on a train into downtown Boston. We walked up through the subway exit in the heart of Boston and were greeted by protest signs, flags, and tents. We had come here for, and found, Occupy Boston.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We walked through the crowd for a while, but eventually had to sneak away for some food. Downtown Boston is an amazing place to walk through, but it is even more immaculate when you stumble upon a movie set on your way to get food. Apparently we passed by a Ryan Reynolds action movie. Badass, right? After eating, we returned to Occupy Boston, where I had an enthralling conversation with a random woman about college tuition. Afterwards, we headed back to school. And no, it doesn’t end there.

At 8:00 or so, we all headed to the Den, a hangout for students, for the regional GSA dance. I never knew people participated in GSA, as my school’s GSA is unfortunately not very popular. But this room was packed with ever sort of kid, including a professional DJ from Italy. Needless to say, it was a bangin’ fuckin’ party. I swear everything I was wearing was soaked in sweat- totally worth it.

Finally, after a good three two and a half hours of dancing, fist pumping, and moshing, everyone headed back to the dorms, I showered, and we settled down. Once everyone in the dorm had gotten together, we, all but one kid, snuck downstairs. We called the kid down and jumped out when he arrived. Ben, the aforementioned kid, had just turned 18, so we celebrated.

Now, after cake and game of pool, I am sitting on Tobi’s couch just trying to soak everything in. This truly has been one of the best weekends of my life.


P.S. To everyone I met: Elise, Benoit, Frank, Gabbi, Ryan, all of Tobi’s friends, and every other person I met, thank you for a great weekend. Now all I want to do is figure out how to visit again (Frank, I was told Feb 5 is an interesting date…)

About Brad,Robert,Ben

We are three kids from three different time zones, with one common goal. This is our voice:
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Greatest Weekend of My Life pt. 2

  1. Pingback: Greatest Weekend of My Life pt.1 | Three kids. Three time zones. One mission…

  2. tristram says:

    Ben – this is kinda what they mean when they say “it gets better” – you got a glimpse of what life can be like in other places. But more than that, it’s an example of what can happen when you take the initiative and stand up for yourself and others. The inspiration you (and Brad and Robert) send out is bound to come back around as positive energy.Thanks for sharing your experience !

  3. Samer says:

    Hi Ben,
    I am struck by your weekend adventures. I will quote you something that I read not too long ago. You may recognize it:
    ” I’m a white, gay, suburban, teenage, high school kid. And I’m depressed. And I know I’m not alone. I sit in my room sometimes and wonder why I don’t have those best friends who’ll pull me up. I wonder why I’m not doing what I want to do. I do that all the time. I’m on meds and they’re not even the right ones; they don’t really work. But I know, and I want to tell everybody, that sometimes you just gotta wait.”

    It is amazing how much can change in two months. This is a lesson to all those like us out there who are struggling, or have struggled with the loneliness of being gay… “you just gotta wait it out”

    So happy you have found, what you never thought you would find, and you are still here to share with all of us.

  4. Jay M. says:

    I waited to read part 2 before commenting, so here goes….

    Ben, we live in a day and age when there are many parents who simply would not put their son on a plane to travel 1000 miles away by himself. To have earned that level of trust in your abilities to fend for himself brings great credit to you, and to them as parents.

    For you to do this is amazing. There’s too many guys who simply can’t get up in front of people and be coherent, clearly you and your personality are capable beyond your years.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…every gay kid in the country needs to be reading this blog. You and your compatriots are living proof that you don’t have to wait forever for life to be good. You have to love yourself, and hold your head up, and the example you set here and in your life away from the blog (witness the trip in all its aspects – making new friends, participating in a panel discussion, being thrown into a roomful of guys you’ve never met, to spend the night.

    And why am I surprised that you went looking for Occupy Boston? HAHAHA I love Boston, and I, too, want to go back sometime.

    What a great thing you’ve done! Congratulations, Ben, on a fantastic life experience; thanks for sharing it here!

    Peace ❤

  5. Hello Ben,

    I completely second @Tristram on what they said.
    Good for you, for all your hard work, too– weekends like the one you described are a great reward! 🙂


  6. Anna says:

    Hi Ben!

    I was at Gabbi’s presentation – your insight was really useful and I’m glad you enjoyed being here! You have an awesome blog 🙂


  7. Jay M. says:

    BTW, I have a little insight into being in front of “groups”…I once had a flute solo in front of 7800 people (and this is not “one-upsmanship”, just understanding)…so your composure in your situation is understood…
    An as Anna said, you have a GREAT BLOG!!!!
    Peace ❤

  8. Rick says:

    As a graduate of Phillips Academy in 1969, when we were all boys/men and ‘none of us were gay,’ the story of your trip to Andover is quite refreshing. Don’t let anyone ever tell you the world isn’t getting better, much better, and quite rapidly at that.

  9. Gabby says:

    Hey Ben!
    I’m a PA alum! (more recent than Rick I would say–class of ’11 🙂 ) but your articles are so incredibly inspiring! Most people believe the “Andover Experience” can only be understood after being a student or part of the community for four years, but you’ve seriously proven them all wrong. Things like this blog entry are the reasons I’m so proud of the high school I graduated from. I’m so happy that you were able to see a snippet of the fun times and good that PA has to offer (without having to go through the all nighters and term papers haha). I’m only sad you didn’t visit when I was still at a student!

    p.s. I’m so glad Gabbi Fisher was the one to host your stay at Andover. From the classes I shared with her, it was never a secret that she was going to do great things–and it seems like she’s already has!

  10. Sam says:

    I teach HS English in Burbank, CA – at the high school where the pilot for “Glee” was filmed.

    you sound like an awesome kid – I wish I had a student like you in my class (11th and 12th grade English) . I don’t want to sound lame, but go for it, don’t let anything or anyone hold you back. The way you present yourself and your experiences indicates that you aren’t going to let the ignorant circumstances that sometimes surround you defeat you.

    I wish I had had your awareness when I was 17 – 18.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s