Toronto
4 min

Fallen Angel

How do you go from lonely high school student to cause célèbre without cracking up?

TROUBLEMAKER? Marc Hall says he used to be shy and lonely. Credit: David Hawe

This year Marc Hall had scored 91 in his grade 12 religion class – his
strongest subject at Monsignor John Pereyman Catholic High School in
Oshawa – when he paid his principal the visit that turned Hall into the
Ontario Catholic school system’s worst nightmare. He asked to go to the
prom with his boyfriend – and in the media, the hearts of Canadians and a
court of law, he won.

With all the hoopla, Hall’s religion mark dropped to 79. But that’s okay.
He’s not thinking of becoming a priest anyway.

“With my religion class, I love my religion teacher. But I just see it as
a class,” says Hall, 17.

There were other changes, too, post-prom. Hall used to describe himself as
a shy person.

“Now I’ll talk to anyone. I used to just sit there in class and now when
the teacher asks a question, my hand is up. I feel more confident,” says
Hall.

He’s also more together: “With all the media attention, I had to schedule
everything. I’m so organized now.”

How exactly does one transform from a shy closeted teen to a gay celebrity
waiting for a court date to argue that Catholic schools shouldn’t be able
to discriminate against homos? (Hall’s successful May case was merely an
injunction to allow him to attend his own prom and was not binding on the
school board. The larger issue will likely come before a judge this winter.
)

One day you’re coming out to your mom and dad. The next day the National
Post is writing mean things about your new boyfriend.

“I find it kind of dumb,” says Hall about the interest in his personal
life. After his prom victory, it came out that there were tensions with
his prom date boyfriend JP Dumond, which led to their May 20 break-up.
Dumond started dating somebody else six days later; Hall hooked up with
his current boyfriend eight days later.

The Post suggested Hall dumped Dumond because of the selection of men
offered by Church St. Hall says his relationship was having problems. And
besides – his current beau goes to his school, so they’ve known each other
for ages.

“They kind of twisted it. Yes, JP and I fought to go to the prom together.
We were in a relationship and there was conflict in it,” he says. “I don’
t like him anymore. Long story. If you knew the whole story, you’d
understand.”

Hall says he knew he was gay early on and came out to his brother in grade
10. In grade 11, he was being teased in accounting class when he got up
and announced to the class, “Yes, I’m gay. It’s no big deal.” He told his
mother that spring (“She was watching Wheel Of Fortune”) and she told his
dad. There were rocky points, but Hall says, “My dad’s been 100 percent
behind me.”

Though he goes to a Catholic school in a working-class city, Hall says he’
s never felt bullied, even when someone shoved a photo into a friend’s
locker with “Die Marc Hall Die” written on it.

“There was people saying, ‘fag,’ and ‘queer,’ that kind of thing. Before
it made me uncomfortable, but now I think it’s funny that people can be so
stupid,” he says.

In grade 11, Hall says he felt lost and lonely. There weren’t many other
openly gay people at his school (though he says there are more and more
out lesbians if you go down the grade ranks) and he went on the Internet
to find friends. It was from there he learned about gay culture and met
Dumond; they chatted on-line for a month before they met in person.

“I never knew about Church St,” says Hall. “I didn’t know about gay
magazines, newspapers. In grade 11, I knew a couple of lesbians in my
school, that’s it.”

It was when his friends set up a website complaining that Hall couldn’t
take Dumond to the prom that Hall’s relatively isolated gay existence was
shattered. First it was the media, who tracked him down via the website.

“I’ve had so many interviews I’ve lost count,” he says. “One day I was
going to the locker for my jacket and a friend warned me there was a bunch
of TV crews outside. I got nervous so I just didn’t go outside until they
were almost all gone.”

Then it was Liberal MPP George Smitherman who wanted to shield Hall from
the media. Smitherman set up a whole campaign to support Hall in his prom
court battle. From Smitherman, Hall got to meet a whole heck of a lot of
queers.

“If I had never had George, I’d be messed up,” says Hall. “George is like
an other friend.”

Now Hall is someone who attends Fashion Cares with his lawyer, David
Corbett. Someone who brunches on Church St with leaders of Parents, Family
And Friends Of Lesbians And Gays. Someone who is not getting a summer job
because he’s too busy going to Pride parades (he’ll be with the Equal
Marriage entry in Toronto’s parade and will grand marshal the parade in
Halifax). Someone who hasn’t decided on his career yet, but who appears in
the finale of the second season of Queer As Folk wearing a pink feather
boa. Peter Paige, who plays Emmett on the show, gave Hall a T-shirt he
wears a lot.

Though he’s only 17, Hall has already got a grip PR talk. About his
upcoming court case, in which he’ll have to take the witness stand, he
says, “I’ve won the battle, now I have to win the war.” Asked if he’s an
activist, he replies, “Not really. I’m a gay student fighting for his
rights to be treated equally.”

Is it hard having come into the spotlight at such a young age?

“Beforehand, I gave away my trust too easily. Now I know trust has to be
earned. The school board let me down and now I know not to trust what they
said.”