January 24, 2007

My student made a big deal today about the fact that there are gay people. She says it’s just wrong. “Two guys kissing is just gross.” I just told her it was none of her business. She didn’t get it, but she doesn’t get much that doesn’t relate to what she wants right at this moment.

Now, I’m sure most of you that read me on a regular basis feel the same way. It’s none of your business, and that gives you one less thing to worry about. It’s people like you I can appreciate. I’ve come to a place where I don’t like having to explain myself to others.

I remember in high school, and even in the beginnings of college, I had to answer the persistent questions about where, when, how, why the gay thing. It’s the funny part about becoming something more true: you have to be forced into a label. I’ve been the ‘gay friend, ‘THE gay guy,’ ‘gay saxophonist,’ and ‘gay.’ Difficult to manage, all these different roles is.

But, I suppose the cruel nature of things is that we play roles. We either serve as student or teacher, parent or child, brother or sister, friend or enemy, worker or employer to someone, somewhere. C’est la vie, I suppose.

In light of the melancholy that can come from such social structures, becoming “teacher” has had some high points. There are a couple students that have flocked to me, and its kinda cool that they come and talk to me after school. One in particular. He’s a very funny kid, and he always comes in with a “complaint” to make, though its usually nothing at all. He’s just fun.

So despite my kvitching, I do have good things happen. Making the change between stern and calm is getting easier, and more natural, and I think it helps the class along. Even the lesson I taught tonight was better than normal, but that’s because I made her work on her music the whole time.

Every day is a little transformation, and every day is a little growth. That’s what makes it all worthwhile, in a way, I guess.



  1. I have a sticker with a quote from Harvey Fierstein on it at my desk:

    Never be bullied into silence.
    Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
    Accept no one’s definition of your life;
    defin yourself.

    Yes, we all play rolls. ALL of us do. I was just talking to my students on Tuesday about how our “voice” changes depending on what – and for whom – we’re writing, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I am a different person with my children than I am with my students than I am with my in-laws than I am with my best friend. None of these Chilis is inauthentic, really, but none of them is the WHOLE Chili, either. It’s all about balance.

    You bear a particular (and patently unfair) responsibility in your position as a gay man in a public school. Until the general population can get around to dropping its ignorant fear/hatred of that which it doesn’t understand (like your teenage girl there), you have to be a representative for what “gay” is. That’s wrong, and it sucks, but it’s true. It is going to be an issue at some point in your career and for that, I am truly sorry. I’m doing MY part to help that but, as an ally, I can only do som much.

    Remember Mr. Fierstein’s words as you travel through this experience. No one else gets to define you. YOU get to say who you are.

  2. thank you for the encouraging words. And have I mentioned how much you rock, and how much I like you? Because the answer is “a lot.”

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