Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Story, and I Do Have One

It is always today has been kind enough to extend an invitation for me to contribute to this blog. I am honored, humbled and very insecure. Why insecure? When I write for my own blog I can choose whether to be whimsical or serious, pointed or repugnant and not worry whether the post has typographical errors or grammatical mishaps. When writing for someone else, the rules change; your sources must be cited, your theories sound, and your hypotheticals must be possible. Putting all that together in my head overwhelmed me, and thus, I became insecure. Then it occurred to me, I am a blogger. I am free.

In reading some of the posts on Its always today, one stuck out, It's Elementary. Stop bullies. I remember the taunts in school, "faggot, sissy, queer..." I decided I would tell the story of what a typical month or so in high school was like for me - no "study" needed, but a visual of what I looked like in highschool is provided.

At my highschool there was one young man a grade lower than myself that was particularly effiminate. He was the one that everyone called a sissy and accused of doing drag (which actually became true later in his life). He was tall, slender and blonde with the most amazing, infectious smile. We never spoke to each other - I was "out" and he was not. Back then, coming out in highschool was instant popularity, for better or for worse and usually for worse.

There was one section of hallway where this man and I would cross paths daily. In my entire highschool tenure, this hallway was the only place we ever crossed paths, albeit silently. One occassion particularly stands out to me. I was walking behind a heterosexual couple (or presumably so as they were holding hands) as the young man past me in the hallway heading the opposite direction. The man in front of me turned to his girlfriend and said, "They should put those people in all girl schools." As his girlfriend gave him a quizical look, he turned around to point at the young man, instead he found me standing behind him, smileless and infuriated. At 6'2" and 195 pounds in high school, I was physically threatening - and I was one of the ones that was well known to be a homosexual. We stood facing each other silent for a moment. Finally, the man in front of me smiled and said, "Sorry dude," before turning abrubtly and half ran/half walked away.

Like most schools, my school had a "redneck" or "kicker" crew. During my Junior year, I befriended a Senior girl, Anna, who was part of the "kicker" crew by default (she worked at a local redneck bar but was totally a rocker). We had lunch together every day, but our relationship rarely extended past the lunch hour. One day at lunch, Anna seemed particluarly distracted. Eventually, she told me the story of being at work and the "redneck crew" approached her saying things like, "Why do you hang out with that faggot?" and "You're a fag lover." I was horrified when I realized for the first time that not only are gay people in danger of this sort of harassment, but those who remain our friends and allies are in danger as well. But Anna always had a way about her and said, "I told them to go F*&$ themselves."

A few days later I was walking past the "kicker crew" when one of them began screaming "faggot." It didn't take long before 5 or 6 more joined in the chanting. I turned to face them and realized I was seriously outnumbered and a pacifist. Then I thought about Anna. I threw my bags to the ground and screamed back. I can't recall my exact words, something like, "Bring it on, I'll kick all of your a$$e$." Alas, my warrior self was defeated, not by the group of rednecks but by the assistant principal tapping me on the shoulder and telling me to get to class.

A week later I was walking out ot my car getting ready to leave for the day. I noticed someone had "keyed" my car and just rolled my eyes at it, paying it little attention as the keying wasn't deep and looked as though it could be buffed out easily. I drove around, never thinking much more of it. Then, I went to the car wash. After washing the car I grabbed a buffing cloth and set out to remove the scratches from it. Perhaps because I was standing further back, or perhaps because I had washed off the dirt, I could now clearly read the word, "FAG."

Those are a few examples of what highschool was like for me as an openly gay man. I was lucky as I survived without killing myself or someone doing it for me. Not all LGBT kids are as lucky. 7 out of 10 gay men report considering suicide and 33% report attempting suicide. Our society is teaching our children to hate themselves if they are gay, and hate gays if they are not. As long as we continue to teach this sort of ignorance, children will continue to die and children will continue to kill. Evangelicals argue they are trying to protect our children yet what they are really teaching is how to kill our chidlren... after all, they are the one's praying for the end of the world.

But, It is always today and that was yesterday. Now, I'm being invited to contirbute to a heterosexual's blog about LGBT issues. Now, I am the warrior in front of the rednecks, the buffer against the keying and the voice that, like Anna, can say to those against me, "Go F#*$ yourself..."


1 comment:

  1. Jay - an incredibly touching story. You have such a gift with words.