13 November 2010

Sticks and Stonewall

Faggot. Queen. Bitch. Girl. Gay. Homo. The list goes on and on. Growing up, I always was afraid of these words being synonymous with mine. I knew I was different, but did everyone need to know? Who wanted to be the gay-boy in grade school? Ok, ok. So I didn't want to be the gay kid; I wasn't prepared to stick up for myself. I was an easy target: non-athletic, chubby, quiet, smart.

In the sixth grade, I remember standing in line to head to the cafeteria and the boys in front of me were involved in some chorus-laughter and, of course, instead of minding my own fucking business, I showed interest in what they were yapping about. Derrick turned around after saying, "Aw man! You are SO gay!" He said to me, "DeeCue: Jaime said he doesn't have a dildo; he is so gay, right? Don't YOU have one?" With the trap set, I replied with confidence: "Sure I do." Uproar and pointing. I ran home, opened up a dictionary, and buried my head in a pillow.

In high school, I was intrigued. I attended an all-boys private school - feel free to fantasize everything possible. My homoerotic high school experience was a realization period for me. I came to terms with my homosexuality. I tried not to stick out: kept my lisping to a minimum; forced my hands down when I spoke; and befriended a lot of athletes - because that's what straight guys do. During those years, I grew a thick skin and was able to deflect, talk back, speak up. One day, I stood up to do a history presentation on the influence of Hitler on a depressed Germany. Coolly leaning on the back legs of his desk in the last row, the captain of the ice-hockey team yelled out: "Sit down, faggot." Surprisingly, no laughter, not a word from the class - like a tennis match, heads turned to me in anticipation of my reaction. I felt my heart pounding, fist clenching, and quickly said, "Shut the fuck up."

Years later, I hear about the kids who didn't have the same tough skin, the kids who felt like the end was more bearable than the journey and my heart breaks. It's not okay for them to feel like the future is empty and nonexistent because the future is bright even though it is dark right now. Just think about this: drag queens put on their pumps and beat off the police back in the the day for their right to live how they wanted to live it (see Stonewall Riots of 1969). And check them out now, 40 years later, strutting down 5th Avenue hand in hand with the bears, Chelsea-boys, and twinks, proud as fuck they aren't made to feel shame for whom they are and whom they love. It's still rough out there, but we have come a long way.

So, those words? Faggot. Queen. Bitch. Girl. Gay. Homo? I own them. Don't get me wrong: I'm not a huge flag-waver, but I have my moments . . . guuuurl.

Point of the conversation: It gets better.

- DeeCue

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this thoughtful post, Dee Cue. It does get better. If I may tell a related story...I was impressed and honored recently when a group of high school students were led on a tour through my art studio, which featured paintings about the recent bullying and suicides. The teacher came to me later and said that the students were floored that an adult was talking about bullying, felt close to issues that affected them, and really put it out there (as one of the kids said). I think this is what we (as adults) can do best right now, with the tough skins we've developed: Get it out there. Set the stage for the ones who are coming up and coming out behind us. Own this, as you say.

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