Because of Tenured Radical’s series on women’s colleges and feminist education, I missed that yesterday was national Coming Out Day, which this year is being linked by a number of bloggers and writers to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project . A number of my regular faves had special posts on this, but I wanted to highlight two especially moving stories. First, Rose at Romantoes has a wonderful tribute to a high school friend of hers, Jay, who suffered shocking amounts of bullying in high school. His is an important story to read now because as Rose writes, “it’s not always kids doing the bullying.”
One of my best friends all through school growing up came out after we started college. That wasn’t much of a surprise to anybody, but of course that doesn’t make it any easier for someone to come out. And for years he had been bullied, harassed, and tormented about being gay…but importantly, not ever, to my knowledge, by his peers.
In many ways I think he’d escaped that kind of treatment by other kids because he was just so damned charming and funny. I mean, he was truly the funniest person I have ever known. He was witty, punny, and could stage some of the best practical jokes imaginable with the straightest of faces. He was also incredibly smart, musically gifted, and genuinely gregarious. I really credit him for making my own time in high school as easy as it was–somehow, he single-handedly made it cool to be a nerd.
So who was doing the bullying? Teachers.
People talk about three-hanky movies and novels, but have you ever seen a three-hanky blog post? Keep your tissues close at hand, friends, for this next one too. Fannie at Fannie’s Room offers a brave and moving account of her childhood–her growing awareness of her lesbian identity and gender-nonconformity, and the simultaneous terrible realization that being gay means facing the loathing and disgust of her family, friends, and peers at school. Here are just a few snippets:
I am in first grade and am walking down the hall with my best friend. I reach out to take her hand.
She pulls her hand away in horror, saying, “What are you, queer?”
Last year, in kindergarten, this was okay. Today, I learned that there are new rules. I have also learned that whatever queer is, I Am Definitely Not That. Continue reading