Happy Friday! This week’s Feature Friday is wise beyond his years. Oscar has a lot to say about being liked vs. being respected, and the importance of self-self-realization. We learned a lot from Oscar and we think you will, too. Take a look below…
Where are you from? I grew up in Arlington, Virginia which a few miles off of Washington, D.C., but I was born in West Point, New York.
Where do you live? I currently split my time between my boarding school in North Bethesda, Maryland, and my home in Arlington. I sometimes spend time up with my dad at West Point but it’s a bit hard to get up there on a regular basis. My parents are still together, they just have to live in separate houses cause my dad’s working up in NY.
Instagram handle: @oscarhallII
On his favorite travel spot: I think my favorite place I’ve travelled to would have to be the Olympic National Park, less specifically, the Olympic Peninsula out in Washington. I initially didn’t think of it as a place I “travel” to because I go there each summer to work as a camp counselor rather than vacation, but every time I go it feels like the first time. I can see the stars every single night, the water is beautiful (especially during algae bloom when it becomes this beautiful shade of teal), and I feel a sort of comfortability with the Olympic mountain range around me.
On growing up: I grew up with six people in our household: my maternal grandparents, my sister, my parents, and I. We all grew up Catholic, except for my dad who converted from Lutheranism when he married my mom. My grandpa was an interior designer for the beginning of my life, and both of my parents are in the Army. My Parents met at West Point (USMA) and have been active duty for almost thirty years, but thankfully they’ve only been deployed once each in my lifetime. When I was in Kindergarten my dad went to Iraq and when I was in fourth grade my mom got sent to Afghanistan. Since my parents worked quite late, my grandparents acted as a second set when mine were away. My sister also always looked out for me, even when me may not have gotten along. Since my parents were in the military, we were BIG fans of country music. I would always want to listen to our local pop station but my parents always thought it was “too inappropriate” growing up. My sister got to listen to them before me since she’s four years older, and since I idolized her as a kid, I wanted to do whatever she did. My sister is still my best friend and although we don't talk as much now that she’s moved out and engaged, I know she always has my back and I have hers.
“I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as “too gay” because gay isn’t a personality trait. That’s the beauty of our community. We all come in different shapes, sizes, colors, personalities, and all those differences are what bring us together.”
On coming out: Like most people, my coming out was a pretty long process of continuously coming out to more people over the years. I believe I told the very first person when I was about 11. I was in Catholic school and I passed a note to my best friend at the time that I thought I might be gay, and surprisingly he was completely accepting of me. But the real challenge came when I got to high school. I knew no-one going into my high school and after a pretty bad response in eighth grade, I thought I would go back into the closet for the rest of high school. Especially since the high school I was going to was a Catholic school, I had my worries. I quickly learned that keeping my homosexuality from others meant hiding more than just who I wanted to spend my life with. I lied to my friends about what I listened to on Spotify, what I watched on Netflix, hell I made up what I ate for breakfast in order to keep up with this straight persona I made for myself. As you could imagine, this grew pretty tiring after so long (as if one year is a long time), and after receiving more and more questions about my sexuality, I decided to come out to a few of my closest friends... over Snapchat. (Sidenote, I would highly recommend against using social media for your coming out, but do whatever you’re comfortable with.) I got some good responses, but I also got ghosted by a few of my close friends. This hurt a lot, knowing that all I wanted was to be liked and that people didn’t because of something I can’t control. But the feeling of liberation after releasing my demons felt so good, I couldn’t really stop. By sophomore year, I had kept it going so far as to be out completely on social media and at school. Now my coming out to my parents is a little more complicated. I think I came out to my parents at least four times in the time between sixth and ninth grade. I initially told my mom about a crush I had on a boy, and she brushed it off as just a phase. In eighth grade, I told a few of my girl friends and my parents started picking up on loose ends I had left out (like how I suspiciously had a folder of teen wolf photos on the family computer...) My dad initially thought I just didn’t know what having guy friends felt like so I was just confused, but that slow roast from my dad about my ability to gain friends was sadly just not the case. (for the most part) Once I got to high school, they started taking my claims a bit more seriously and luckily I now have them behind me one-hundred percent. :) I sadly haven’t been able to come out to my grandparents yet, but that time will come.
On facing backlash since coming out: One of the times I came out to my parents, we got into a pretty heated argument on the way to a nationals game in eighth grade. My parents had seen some “gay” message on my phone, and they told me that marriage is between a man and a woman and that they didn’t want me to ruin our relationship with the church. I ended up crying my eyes out and vowing that I would never speak about being gay again. Thankfully this changed, but it sadly caused me to come out to them for the last time over a family group chat of all things. I wish I could’ve sat down with them and talked it out rather than texting them, but I guess I can’t change the past. I didn’t face much backlash from my friends, but one of my friends just completely cut me off after I told him. No explanation, no reason why, just silence. But my biggest problem came when a list of guys I liked got dug up and spread to the whole school. Rumors spread like wildfire and burned so many bridges I had been trying to build with guys in my grade, which only time would be able to fix.
On an important self-realization: Through the coming out process I learned that I had internalized a whole lot of homophobia. When I was hiding who I was, all the things I thought I didn’t like about myself ended up being things I didn’t like in other people. My medium-high voice, talking with my hands, using funny voices, all of it. When first coming out, I saw it as people being extra and being “too gay.” But I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as “too gay” because gay isn’t a personality trait. That’s the beauty of our community. We all come in different shapes, sizes, colors, personalities, and all those differences are what bring us together. Now I love seeing people who express things that may be seen as “gay” because I know that they aren’t holding back who they are, especially for me.
On advice to LGBTQ youth: Thankfully times are changing, and people are growing to be more accepting, but I completely understand still having that fear. I think we all just have to trust that love is stronger than ignorance, and that your family and friends are going to love you, no matter who, what, where, when, and why you are who you are. As a young person, you may lose friends because of their ignorance, but that gives us an opportunity to either educate them or find more friends that will treat us well.
On the Spectrum Alliance Program at his school: So our Spectrum Alliance program is our glorified Gay-Straight alliance at Georgetown Prep. We thought of the name because sexuality is a spectrum and why name it just for the gays and straights when you could include everyone! We meet every few weeks in either our counselor’s office or on rare occasions a classroom (if we need to have bigger meetings.) It is pretty new considering it just started four years ago when I was a freshman. We are growing each year with about 12 members at the moment. Everyone feels comfortable to join at different times, so we usually get new faces popping up throughout the year. We use our meeting time to catch up, talk about LGBTQ+ issues, help each other with problems we’re having, and eat snacks. Lots of snacks. A lot of times, kids at a school that is all-boys and catholic like ours can feel alone or rejected when they are LGBT, so we just wanted to make a space where everyone, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, anything, is welcome.
On being liked vs. being respected: It sounds cliché but its a lesson I think we all need to learn, gay or straight. When the list of guys I liked got out and all those rumors were being spread, I had no clue what to do. I went to my french teacher because I knew she would be able to help, but initially she didn't really say what I wanted her to because she said, "Damn. You screwed up. You shouldn't have lost track of that list and that's no one's fault but your own." Wow, way to kick a guy while he's down... But it's what she said afterwards that struck a chord with me. She said “This is one of those things that’ll be hard to live down. But you can’t just be angry and make yourself the victim.You can try and change yourself to be what other people want, but you can’t please everyone. When you make a mistake like this and you only get radio silence back, you think it’s all people are talking about, but the thing is, they may get a kick out of it for a day or two, but it blows over. Most people are too focused on how they’re seen to think about you. What you should really worry about is you being you. If you are true to yourself and be the best man (or woman) you can be, people may not like you, but they sure as hell will respect you. If you walk around like you’re on a crusade all the time, no one will want to listen. But if you just show them, Hey I'm a pretty cool dude, they’ll come to you.” I can’t really say it better than her, but plenty of people will dislike you throughout your life for a plethora of reasons, but everyone can respect someone accepting themselves and living their truth, no matter what that truth is. Being LGBT especially, we can face backlash from all over the place, but we need to find value in ourselves and the relationships we have.
On In five years, I will be a year out of college, since I'm going to Berklee College of Music in the Fall. I hope to have a job in the Music Business and I will hopefully have an album out since as of now, I only have had time to release my debut single, Kiss Goodbye. (available on all streaming platforms lol) I would hope that by then I have a stable boyfriend, but most importantly I would hope that I have fully accepted myself for who I am, as that will help me be as open as possible in my music. I would probably like to be living out in Seattle, but somewhere on the east coast might be ok too. But yea, that’s me :).