Affidavit of Hunter Allen in ACLU, et al v. Reno
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
ACLU et al. v. RENO
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION et al v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
I, Hunter Allen, of Los Angeles, California, do hereby depose and swear:
1. My name is Hunter Allen and at the age of seventeen I live away from my parents at 1760 Wilcox Ave in Hollywood, Califorrna. There I attend the EAGLES Center, a high-school that is specialized for gay youth. I am in my third year in high-school. I also work part time for Pacific Theaters as a supervisor in different movie theaters throughout Los Angeles. Until I was sixteen I lived with my parents in Mountain View, California.
2. Growing up in a small town in the bay area was difficult for me because I was different, and at a very young age I knew it. I was different from all the other boys my age, and from what my father wanted me to be. When all the other boys where trying out for baseball teams, I was auditioning for the local youth theater's new play, and taking tap lessons. But the thing that set me apart the most is the fact that I am gay. As far back as I can remember, I remember having crushes on my friends. I think my father always knew in the back of his head that I was gay, but being a prominent figure and a bishop for five years in the Mormon Church (which condemns homosexuality), he could never accept that it was true until he heard it out of my own mouth. At the time I had been very depressed for months and was not doing well in school. Coming out to my parents was just too much for them to handle, they didn't know what to do with me anymore. I suggested that they send me to LA to live with my Lesbian Aunt. So at the age of sixteen I found myself moving to Los Angeles. When I could support myself, I moved into my own apartment. Since then my mother and I have re-established contact and become very close agaun. We both agree that living on my own has been a great thing for me. In April of '96 I will have been living on my own for a year. In LA I have had to make a new life for myself. Survival has been the most important and time-consuming thing in my life during the past year. Finding a job, a place to stay, and finishing high school have all been challenges for me to deal with . Let alone making new friends and having fun. Luckily in LA I have found a tremendous amount of support from both concerned adults and peers. So many kids in my situation have ended up on the street involved with drugs or prostitution. I was able to avoid these pitfalls because I got involved with activities like the LA YouthArts Project and the EAGLES Center. The EAGLES Center has been great for me because it is the only school I've ever attended where I can be myself without having to worry about being harassed about being different. At EAGLES I'm surrounded by teens that I can relate to. This allows me to concentrate on rny work ratber than what people think of me. So far I have been very successful in creating a stable life on my own and this last year has been a growing experience for me.
3. I have been able to publish some of my opinions and thoughts in the form of essays and letters through YouthArts, and recently I have written several poems which I plan to publish also. All throughout rny life, writing has been a way for me to release my emotions in a way that is very healthy for me and creative. When I was younger I would keep a journal, which allowed me to put my feelings and opinions on paper. As I got older I learned how to write essays and poems in school. Every English teacher I've had has encouraged rne to do a lot of extracurricular writing, and during the many changes that have transpired in the last couple years of rny life, writing has been a constant. No matter where I am, as long as I can get ahold of a pencil and paper I can write, and that has been a great joy m my life.
4. I first learned about YouthArts through my boyfriend. He publishes his artwork on the YouthArts web site. Not only has this served as an oppornuity to expose his work, but also to expand his artistic horizons with different styles of artwork.
5. YouthArts has been an incredible experience for me. It has been an opportunity to get together with other kids im my age group with similar interests to me and create a place on the Internet where we are able to share and express our ideas and our work in a supportive enviromnent. At YouthArts my peers and I have also had the chance to learn valuable computer skills while surfing the net wth the help of Patricia Nell Warren and John Waiblinger. There are very few places where gay youth can interact with each other than on the streets or in clubs. YouthArts is a safe place for gay teens to have positive and creative interaction with each other. Also through YouthArts I have met many gay adults who have had successful lives. This is very important because it is nice to know people who have gone through what you are going through and have survived it. People like Patricia Nell Warren are positive role models to gay kids, and an inspiration to not give up. Because of the negative outlook mainstream society has on gay people, gay teens desperately need good role models.
6. On the Internet there are several gay-oriented home pages and websites. For me, visiting these websites has been a valuable way to connect with the gay community. On different web sites I have been able to read numerous editorials about different gay topics, keep up to date with the goings on in the gay political arena, and get info on safer sex.. Where else could I have access to all this so easily in one place?
7. The Internet has been a source of pride in the gay commumty to me, and has strengthened my activity in the community. In December of '95 when Lou Sheldon and Newt Gingrich were trying to hold these hearings on the influence of homosexuals in the public school system, I was able to help defend my community through the Internet by sending an E-mail to Representative Hoekstra I was one of many people who voiced their opinions against these one-sided hearings, and they were changed into a chance for pro-gay speakers to address Congress. To be able to be a part of this was an exciting and empowerring experience.
8. When I was in Mountain View I did not know any openly gay people. I was isolated. The only connection I ever made was through America Online. I can remember browsing through the teen issues section and running intogay section. It was like discovering a whole new world. Every night for a week I would disappear into my room at night and listen on to the gay and lesbian chat lines, JUSt watching other people's interactions, too nervous and scared to say anything myself. Eventually I started joining in on the conversations, and a found a pen-pal, his computer name was Greenblood. For months we sent E-mail back and forth and talked in private chat-rooms. We never told each other our real names out of fear, I guess. But we connected. In my isolated world in Mountain View I was able to reach out and share my true self with a peer who could understand what I was going through.
9. The Communications Decency Act would completely deteriorate most of the gay connection on the Internet. Not because what most people do over the Internet is offensive in my opinion, but because of the negative attitude so many people have against gays. So it would be easy to label something as indecent as YouthArts"indecent." The teens of YouthArts do get graphic in expressing our opinions and emotions through artwork, poetry and essays. But anything we express on YouthArts is a far cry from pornographic. Under the CDA any gay interaction on the Internet would be lace walking on eggshells.
10. YouthArts is the only real opportunity I have had to publish my work. I simply don't have the money it would take to have my work published through traditional print magazines. Since writing isn't my career choice, I would not go through the trouble of getting my work published elsewhere. But I would miss the opportunity very much. I love publishing my creative work, and value the ablity to publish my opinion on the YouthArts website, and would hate to lose that opportunity.
11. I cannot believe that my friends and I could be arrested simply for expressing ourselves. But the realiy is that, under the CDA, that is a real possibility. All it would take is for some small-town conservative to be offended by a poem of mine, and they could file a complaint and have me arrested. This is a very scary thing to consider, but I will not allow that possibility to interfere my freedom of expression.
12. My mother and I have discussed this affidavit and my opinion concerning the Communcations Decency Act, and I have her complete support in filing this affidavit.
I declare under penalty of pejury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on March 7, 1996.