In my rage, however, I called him a “toxic little queen,” and, thus, Anderson Cooper, the self-appointed Jack Valenti of gay media culture, suggested I should be “vilified,” in his words. I didn’t feel bad about the incident. He lied about my wife. They say this is what comes with stardom—I don’t agree with you. A journalist isn’t supposed to write a lie about you. If he was in New York, I might have had the impulse to beat the shit out of the guy. At the time, I didn’t view “toxic little queen” as a homophobic statement. I didn’t realize how those words could give offense, and I’m sorry for that.
I advise students to read plenty of examples of strong essays in advance of beginning any brainstorming or writing. There are a number of books on the market and websites to help. Then I like to choose a couple of those sample essays and have the student identify three things or traits that were revealed about the writer/applicant. For example, family is important as revealed by the catchy beginning that showed the writer/applicant having a deep discussion with an older sibling. Or the writer is profoundly interested in studying French and is willing to take on challenges outside her comfort zone as revealed by the reference to studying abroad in a full-immersion exchange program. Or the writer values community as revealed by the eloquent description of her role within the corps d’ ballet, and how she provides support to and draws on the strength of her fellow dancers. Then I ask, “what do you want to reveal about yourself that’s important to you?”