Wednesday, October 15, 2008
These words are my own...
(In two weeks, I will turn 30 and I am taking sometime to excavate my life. In my reflections, I came to a realization that many of us come to in our lives.)
Faggot. Sissy. Queer. Gayblade. The words, and the pain behind them, can go on and on. Every time I heard these words, they felt like little daggers across my skin.
These words were not meant to kill, to cut too deeply; just to slice, draw a little blood, demean and push me further away from the kids who were normal.
These words, repeated enough, become a part of you. We wrap ourselves in rainbows, in slurs and words and images.
We become, slowly, who people tell us we are.
And when we become these people, we begin a fight that lasts, for many, our entire lives.
Some of us accept that we are abnormal, the most reviled of sinners, and these men spend the rest of their lives in shame and remorse. Some of them learn to relish the pain and the abuse, inflicted by others and by themselves. Some of us
It was when I was in second grade that school stopped being a place I wanted to go and became a place I dreaded.
On my bus, a kid from my neighborhood, called me a faggot. I had no idea what they word meant, but I realized it was not something anyone would want to be called.
While that was my first time being called a faggot, it was not the last.
On some days, around some kids, I thought this was my newly earned nickname.
It hurt sometimes, but most times it meant nothing to me. I did not care. My sense of self was so strong that most things were unable to phase me. I looked around at my peers and felt that in the end, somehow, things would be leveled out and that I would be the one looking down and casting judgment on them. And this was true.
A kid could call me all the faggots he knew, and I could call him stupid or dumb or mildly retarded right back.
If a kid mocked the way I talk, I mocked the way he read aloud in class. I became skilled at using words and my tongue for defense. This carried me threw elementary school and I earned the respect of my elementary school peers.
It was in fifth grade that the problem escalated. I was in Ms. Peeler’s fifth grade classroom. My mother had her as a teacher in middle school and I was excited for her to be my teacher.
On the first parent/teacher conference night, she told my mother she needed to find a husband so I would have a male role model in my life.
My mother had been hurt and I perceived this hurt to be my fault. It was something about me that had made my mother hurt. Had Mrs. Paul not made this insightful observation about what my mother needed, she would not have cried when she got in the car.
I started to shrink. I closed my mouth and sat in classes, saying as little as possible, wishing myself invisible, but some flames simply burn too bright.
Sammy Seales was one grade above me in middle school.
He told me to get my faggot ass back and that girls could not play. Other boys laughed, many of them my friends, and I was enraged. I walked up to him, in my cowboy boots (with my pants tucked inside them) and punched him in the face. I knew I was on a suicide mission. Sammy Seales was older, taller; he had muscles and hair in places I only daydreamed about and I knew he was going to kick my ass. And kick my ass he did.
I hated Sammy Seales from that day forward.
He was held back in tenth grade and we ended up in 11th grade English class together. He took a seat behind me and I spent the entire year in dread of what he might say. He never said anything derogatory to me. He was always nice and friendly and I wondered if he even remembered our fight from 7th grade.
Regardless of what he remembered, I never forgot.
Sammy Seales was killed at twenty and inside I felt relief. I felt relief because someone had done to him what he had done to a part of me. And that’s when I realized how much damage these words had done to me.