High School Taunts

Posted on January 18, 2009

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Thankfully i never found myself to be physically bullied as a child, especially by people thinking i was gay. When my parents switched me from public school to a private Catholic school in fifth grade i was in for a rude awakening as i was to be introduced to emotional bullying from my peers. i wanted to start this school in first grade when my friend from my neighborhood started as that is when everyone began. Alas, my mom would not hear of it until my school turned into a Montessori-like school beginning with fifth grade, which i would have probably thrived in, and i did not want to switch. The friend must have experienced insecurity of my impending arrival and told untruths about me to all of her friends. Except for two or three people reaching out to me, i experienced rejection and hearing about parties without being invited. To be physically ingnored and not included was hell painful and not good for my self-esteem. In addition i had a really difficult teacher who expected high school level work out of her fifth graders. Then my maternal grandfather i was closest with in my family had a stroke and lived in the hospital for two months. i was too young to get to visit him until he was moved to another hospital his last few weeks of life. When he died, i was devastated. Thus, the environment was groomed for my insecurities to be germinated, take root, and grow.

Yesterday i received a touching and beautiful email from a man who recently found my blog. i include part of the email here:

I too am a Christ-Follower and have a life partner of 23+ years. So much of your writings resonate with me and we share very similar beliefs. Thankfully neither of us have let religious bigtory stand in our way with our relationship with Christ.

I journal on a daily basis and have started posting some of my musings on my Facebook and naturally find that it often turns to LGBTFQ issues. I’m attaching one for you.

Thanks again for your musings.

PS…My partner and I now attend a large (2,000 people) blue-collar church that recently went public with an apology regarding how they and the Church has treated the fringe of society. They apologize for claiming HIV/AIDS was of God. They apologized for marginalizing LGBTQ people and creating a stigma about us. They’ve welcomed us and others like us with open arms. They don’t claim to have arrived yet but they are open to many things. Quite a profound thing God is doing among fomer “evangelical” churches and how they are moving towards a more open and inclusive society.

Here is the touching story he shared with me and gave permission to post here:

High School Taunts

I was a high school senior speaking at a school assembly of 1,500 students and teachers as a candidate for student council government. I had two competitors, a well-liked, popular, varsity basketball star and unknown wallflower.

I was the last of the three candidates to speak and I boldly exclaimed, “I don’t know what your definition of a sissy is.” As I said that, a guy stood and screamed, “You are! You faggot!”

Those words echoed through the hall and some laughed. Then everyone held their breath and the room went silent. All eyes landed on me and I waited for a teacher to scold him. No one stepped forward and the silence was louder than his taunt. I felt a lump in my throat and time seemed to stop.

I replied, “Yes, you may think that I am that sissy but it takes more guts to stand up here in front of all of you and exclaim who I am than sit there and scream insults at me.” At the end of my speech, I received my first standing ovation with chants and cheers of my name. I lost that election by a very narrow margin and the jock that won felt sorry for me. He asked the administration if we could co-chair the office. It felt bittersweet.

Looking back at that experience and watching news headlines today, I still find it dismaying that people, especially people of faith, can question my existence, my being, my life, my relationship, who I love. I am perturbed that the sacrifice of Jesus has been reduced to cultural warfare about sissies, gays and genital behavior. I feel that same dismay when church people get lost in debates over liturgy, music, rules, scripture or tradition.

I wonder what we are avoiding. With one-third of humanity starving, with human hopes dashed by domestic violence, the determination of the wealthy to protect their privilege at all costs and by the evil of racism, how did we get sidetracked onto self-destructive debates about genitals, rules and scriptural rightness? I think we are hiding from God. Arguing about scripture and sex seem pointless.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

Anyone else out there experience bullying of any kind as a child? A an adult? Have any of you ever bullied someone but realize the wrongness and hurtfulness of it and are sorry? The root at bullying, i believe, is insecurity and/or self-hatred. The way bullies feel better about themselves is to bully and demean others. It is sick and still happens to adults, especially to those of us in the LGBTQ community who experience hate crimes perpetrated against us.

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Posted in: Equality