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.


Achilles said...

Cool post man! Def like what you had to say.

D-Place said...

You're voice spoke for a lot of people who have gone through the same types of taunts and ridicule. There's nothing that you can do to take away that pain. So you have to live your best life now. As they say the best revenge is success.

Q said...

Baby, we have all been there. That's why I'm so slick at the mouth now. I have a response for everything. You have to be quick on your tongue as my mother would say. My skin is so tough by now it can't be penetrated. Trust and believe that we are all in the same boat. Keep your head up, and know that we are always there in spirit. That's why they call us "family". Love ya brother.

Turn me up a lil said...

I think this is the story of many like you throughout the country.

thegayte-keeper said...

wow GREAT post. I HATE that your mom had to confront such harshness from that teacher of yours...but things in life happen for a reason and I am sure you are better person because of it

kennyking78 said...

Wow, did you really just post this?!!! This was an awesome post because I think it speaks to the memories that many of us have. It reminds me that the world really is small. I know that the words stung and did a number on you, but I am happy that you have made it out on the other side.

In the end, who cares what those people had to say back in the day... I read on another blog (The Excitable Bore) that you are a warm-spirited person--- NOW THAT IS IMPORTANT AND SOMETHING TO COMMIT TO MEMORY!!!

Once again, thanks for the post. My eyes could not stop reading it!

Mr. Jones said...

Wow. Powerful post. I wasn't expectign it to end the way it did.

We all have our own personal Sammys. The epithets they hurl at us may be regarding sexuality or race or maybe even something else, but we all have one. I know I sure do.

Crazy Diamond said...

That's a really powerful perspective. It sucks how some pain lingers. And it's interesting that you remember how badly Sammy hurt, but also how much it hurt to see your friends laugh along with them. Often times that has hurt the worse for me — friends not being there for me in difficult times. I was fortunate enough not to be called a faggot or harassed for being gay when I was younger, and so your post is really enlightening about what many people think is a universal experience for gay people. I would say I wasn't harassed because I was unclockable, but I remember tucking my pants inside my cowboy boots a couple of times too :) Loved it!

C. Baptiste-Williams said...

probably your best one yet... enjoyed the read

Darius T. Williams said...


You're right man, words to a lot to you and sometimes you don't even realize just how much damage they can do.

Chet said...

My brotha, I feel the pain coming through, but you can let it go now, the words will linger on in your mine no matter how far we try to place them in the archives of our mine they come back, but the good thing those words hurt less and less.

The pain your mother had to endure wasn't your fault at all nevertheless it hurt her when she was to protect you from hurt and pain. All is forgiven.

Coming to terms isn't always an easy thing and memories stand in our way, push them aside and move on my brotha.

Anonymous said...

Words cannot express how many circumstances like this I may encounter in the future. Good post.