This is not the kind of blog post that I envisioned myself doing. I prefer less personal, less serious posts to lighten my own mood. I actually wrote this for myself a while ago, but I decided to share it for some reason. I promise you this won’t be the overall tone of this blog
I am a teacher at a public middle school. The community I work with is a very challenging one, and the students are not kind to any new teacher. Naturally, I wasn’t surprised when I saw those words on a sign outside my door. I just took it off and threw it away. Words like that don’t bother me anymore. Or at least not the way they expected to. I am gay, and at the moment, that was a bit of myself that I found prudent to keep from them. If I decided to tell, I wanted it to be in a way that they could learn something from that bit of information, and maybe help someone struggling with their identity in the process.
Months passed before another student (or the same one) used those words again, this time on a piece of paper left on my desk. I wanted to let it slide, but this second time, I started remember about a similar situation I faced when I was the same age my students are.
I would like to start saying “I knew I was different since I was little.” just like a lot of people, but that wasn’t the case. As a kid, I was very oblivious about what was happening around me. I was a very shy child with an overactive imagination, and I was very into my own world, or playing with my best friend to realize that the older kids that asked me to walk where actually mocking me for the way I walked. Holding a boy’s hand while we walked didn’t seem strange to me until a teacher told me boys don’t do that. I lived in a self-made bubble that prevented me to even understand mockery and I just corrected any “mistake” I did as I grew up.
By the time I was in 5th grade, however, I started noticing I was different. I was still a shy kid, but I still managed to make at least 1 or 2 good friends; all we did during lunch time was talk about cartoons and video games. What changed was that I started noticing other student’s hostility towards me. I was the nerdy kid who people seemed to hate for having good grades and being on the teacher’s good side. My 2 best friends were my refuge, and we spent every second of recess together in our usual spot just talking and playing.
By the time I was in 7th grade, things began changing. My 2 best friends were taken to a different school, and I suddenly found myself alone. It was relentlessly teased by my class mates. The class leader was a very mean girl, and if she didn’t like someone (like me) then the rest of the group wouldn’t like them either. I rarely talked to my mother about any of these situations; I just tried to keep it to myself. I studied enough to do my homework and then spent the rest of the day playing with my siblings and pretending we were our favorite TV characters.
One day, during lunch time, I got a visit from an eighth grader. He went to my usual spot, where I was quietly eating my lunch. He sat next to me and started talking. “You’re a fag. Kill yourself. Nobody likes you. Fucking fag. Why don’t you kill yourself?” I did my best to not look at him. I just kept looking at my lunch and eating it. I didn’t know why he was saying that; I didn’t even know who he was and never talked to him before. I can’t remember how long he kept at it. All I can remember was that as soon as the bell rang, I broke down and started crying.
I wasn’t angry, I was confused. Why would he say such things to me? What did I do to him? I never provoke anyone; I don’t even talk with people during lunch anymore. People noticed me crying in a corner and started asking what happened. I remember telling them a boy told me some horrible things, but I was too embarrassed to repeat them. I didn’t even want to think of those words. I wasn’t a fag, and I wasn’t going to kill myself.