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The Round Table

Part of The Round Table's multimedia experience

The Round Table

Dye’s Homecoming crown is a step forward for acceptance

Dyes+Homecoming+crown+is+a+step+forward+for+acceptance

Surrounded by friends and family on all sides, Damien Dye waited eagerly to hear the results. The tensions rose at the Homecoming game as the announcement of the court grew closer. The king was chosen, and cheers could be heard as Dye’s name reverberated across the stands.

On October 14th, Middletown High School senior Damien Dye was crowned Homecoming King, voted in by his fellow seniors. An honor on its own, Dye is also the first transgender student at MHS to receive the award. But to know Dye is to know there is much more to him than his gender identity.

Dye was astonished to have even been nominated to the court, much less winning King. “It was surreal,” he said, “and winning was even more out there. It really hasn’t even settled in yet.”

Before the nomination, Dye was unsure how the school would react to him being transgender. “I didn’t even know what the school’s overall opinion would be of my gender identity,” he said, “so I was extremely surprised when they announced me on the dude’s side of the court.”

Dye recalled always being more interested in “boyish” hobbies as a child but didn’t learn about his gender identity until his freshman year of high school. “I just started to grow really uncomfortable with being referred to femininely,” he said, remembering the locker rooms and gym class as being “incredibly physically uncomfortable.”

However, it wasn’t until his junior year that he went public. “I told a couple of my closest friends privately,” he said, “and when I got more comfortable and familiar with being referred to as a guy, it spread by word-of-mouth.” Luckily, he added, everyone was welcoming and accepting of the news, including his parents, friends and teachers.

Dye credits the MHS chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance as being one of the most supportive groups. “GSA’s one true purpose is to serve as a safe space,” he explained, having been a member of the club for two years. The club is used to educate students about gender and sexual identities and participates in several out-of-school activities, including working with the Governor Thomas Johnson High School chapter of the GSA last year. “I imagine since we had such a positive relationship after that, we will attempt to do more,” he added.

Dye has always had an affinity for visual art and has taken AP Art at MHS, which he said is his favorite class. “AP Art is a huge booster because it pushes you to your limit and really helps you build your college portfolio,” he said. He is also a member of the Art Honor Society.

Having drawn for as long as he can remember, Dye now spends much of his time with one medium or another. “It gives people the power to express themselves when they can’t put anything to words,” he said. “You can put your feelings onto the paper and you don’t have to explain yourself. It’s a great outlet because anybody can do art.”

Dye’s favorite mediums are charcoal and oil paints. “The more messy it is, the more likely I am to use it often,” he said.

Since his freshman year, Dye has been a committed member of the tech crew that works on productions at MHS. He said that his experiences on the crew have affected him the most out of anything during his high school career. “All my friends I’ve ever made I made through tech, and it was the much-needed safe place for me to be myself when I was exploring my identity,” he said. “It has shaped me to be the person I am today.”

Dye was the stage manager during the MHS fall production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” in which his duties included directing set changes and making sure that the production ran smoothly and correctly, in addition to building and painting sets. “Everyone puts in their best effort to help pull together a show we can really be proud of,” he added.

When not behind the scenes of productions or working on his art, Dye can be found with his nose buried in a book. Not just a hobby, Dye uses reading to motivate his own creativity. “Reading is a really cool inspiration, because there are no images,” he said, “so you can take the things you read about and how you interpret them and put them to paper, and then other people can read the same thing and come up with something totally different.” Dye added that much of the art he creates is influenced by books he reads.

Of all the different literature that Dye has read, he considers “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien to be his favorite. The iconic fantasy novel intrigued Dye for being  “a really long story that has so many little details and happenings to it.” The film series inspired by the novels is also among Dye’s favorite to watch.

Dye was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, and moved to Middletown in the first grade. He considers his mother one of his biggest role models for her reassuring nature and good advice. “She wanted me to know that you just have to do things for yourself,” said Dye, “and you have to do what makes you happy no matter what other people think makes you happy.”

He added that her supportiveness helped him feel comfortable with his gender identity. “I knew that even if she didn’t inherently understand everything, she would understand the fact that I’m doing stuff that makes me more happy with me, and that’s what really matters at the end of the day,” he said.

Dye plans on pursuing a career in art. His top schools include the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia, the Pratt Institute in New York City, and the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. As for specifics, Dye is waiting to decide, finding interest in every kind of art from museum curating to tattoo work. “I’d like to just dip my toe in and see where it takes me,” he said.

Overall, Dye stressed most that Middletown and its community really helped him grow and feel comfortable with his identity. He said that the Homecoming win made him realize how welcoming the school population could be and that it felt like “a really good slap in the face.”

“It’s really cool to see that even in a community that may not seem progressive, we still are more accepting than we seem to be,” Dye said. “Don’t judge a book by its cover, yo!”

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About the Contributor
Evan Ruderman, Executive producer
Evan Ruderman is a junior at Middletown High School and is in his third semester of journalism. He was photo editor for Round Table Media last year. Outside of journalism, Evan likes to perform on the MHS stage and participate in academic team. He also enjoys playing the piano and bass guitar. Once Evan is out of high school, he plans on attending the University of Maryland and studying aerospace engineering. He is excited for another great year in journalism.

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Dye’s Homecoming crown is a step forward for acceptance