By Simone Graziano
“Debate Team” is a monologue in which a high school student, Heather, suddenly loses her cool while debating the topic of LGBTQ+ representation in the media with her narrow-minded classmate, David.
HEATHER: My argument? Well, studies show thatーActually, David, since you clearly aren’t responding to my incredibly well-researched facts and statistics, why don’t I give some…anecdotal evidence. October 10th. Freshman year. The very day I kissed you, David. You see, my brain back then had been hardwired into thinking that I needed a boyfriend. It was in all of the story books I read as a child, all of the movies I’d seen: A girl meets a boy, and, no matter how half-baked, they develop a romance and ride off into the sunset. What? I don’t care that my 30 seconds are up; I’m going to finish. Anyway, when I became a teenager, I wanted to find love for myself. I wasn’t drawn to any boy in particular; they all seemed equally underwhelming. In fact, the only way I could tell them apart was by what kind of Axe body spray they were wearing. I couldn’t fathom why such intelligent, kind-hearted girls were so enamored with them, but I just assumed I had to be, too, because I had never been shown otherwise. Just as I was about to settle for one of these boys, maybe only half brain dead if I was lucky, I met you, David. You weren’t much better looking than the rest, but the words that came out of your overbite-ridden mouth were smart. I figured that this was the best I could do so I spent the next few weeks getting close to you. Just when I thought that you were waiting until marriage to even hold hands with a girl because of how slowly we were moving, it happened. Gym class. Under the bleachers. 1:30PM. You kissed me. Now, don’t feel flattered that I remember the details. This incident is ingrained in my brain so that when I die and the coroner is about to record my time of death, I can come back from the dead and say, “No, Mr. Coroner. My body may have expired just now, but my soul died many years ago. October 10th. 1:30PM to be exact.” Yes, the kiss was that bad. What made it so bad? First, you touched my cheek with your very sweaty hand. Next, before I could even register the feeling of your sweat seeping into my pores, you leaned in and I caught a whiff of ketchup. Finally, I felt those two fat hot dogs you call lips kiss mine. You tasted like mustard, David. And that was my first kiss! Some people picture fireworks during their first kiss. I had the very vivid image of a hot dog cart in New York City in my mind. Surely, I thought, this can’t be what all of those books and movies are talking about. So, I decided to kiss more boys. And even though I found some much better kissers than you, I still felt no spark. Feeling like something was wrong with me, I googled, “Help there’s something wrong with me I don’t like boys am I gonna be lonely forever”. After a bit of research, I discovered a new word: lesbian. I had never heard of the word before, but when I thought about it, I realized that, yeah, this was me. And not just because I didn’t like boys. I just figured that everyone found girls to be super attractive. The point is, it took me 15 years to realize that it was possible, normal even, for me to have a girlfriend. Maybe if I had seen more love stories between two girls on TV, I would have realized it sooner. That’s why we need LGBT representation in the media. Not just minor characters in Disney movies that can be edited out by China because, guess what, David? Chinese people can be gay too. It’s not pandering. If we don’t normalize being gay through representation in the media, we’re gonna have a lot more girls being traumatized for life by Davids of their own. I rest my case. Thank you.
Before I even knew what this monologue was going to be, I knew that my goal for it was to tell an engaging story through using the five senses. I decided that the best setup for this would be a high school debate; what’s more impassioned and descriptive than a hormone-fueled teenager giving a rebuttal speech to someone who’s just insulted something that’s deeply personal to her? Heather is fired up after what David said, and I made sure she left no detail out when recalling her experience with him. It was deeply satisfying writing through the voice of Heather; I feel like all of the pent-up anger I have against homophobes was all just let out here. I feel like the monologue, and Heather’s argument, truly came together towards the end, when she talks about discovering who she was. I felt like I was writing from my own experiences during that part, and it reminded me of why writing is so important.
Simone Graziano is a junior in high school. She enjoys writing poetry, short stories and plays. Through her writing, she hopes to give the LGBTQ+ community more representation and spark discussions about mental health.