Out Of The Ordinary

You bet, I remember being bullied at school.

After starting school, a year earlier than other children my age, I began to question my sexual orientation (an identity crisis) with risky crushes on and secret daydreams of cute boys. Catholic school religious teachings (indoctrination) cut through my soul and self-esteem with a message of rejection and shame (internalized homophobia) and I soon learned to hide my true identity (in a straight jacket).

All too often, there were days in the poorly supervised or unsupervised schoolyard when I was blessed with fun-loving older boys calling me faggot or queer while kicking me in the nuts, which was embarrassing, humiliating, and mighty painful. So, I might have learned to be alone and secret in order to keep my body safe.

Fiddle sticks, I knew that I had to roll with the punches and be a trooper. I would grimace in an effort to maintain self-control and not allow the charming boys to see my pain more than I could help, since I did not want to encourage them any further. Although feeling tearful inside, I would strive to look less affected in order to hide the grief and hurt of knowing what it felt like to be painfully isolated, rejected, and shamed. I felt demoralized inside like an isolated object for ridicule.

I never knew an adult with whom to safely trust discussing my confusing feelings of anger, fear, and pain. My alcoholic father was given to outbursts of rage. I remember days when I ran home from school to avoid being ruffed up by bullies and nights when I leaped out my bedroom window to go running the suburban hills in sweat and tears, a bewildered and emotionally isolated boy.

One golden day, a kind-hearted and thoughtful boy in a higher grade came out of the blue in the schoolyard to wrap his arms around me and tell me to let out my tears. I dared to hold him and broke down and cried.

A happier childhood memory was the joy of playing tag with an engaging boy in the chlorine-rich swimming pool at the YMCA. In those brave old days, boys wore their locker key strapped around their ankle and nothing else – let us call that ‘so gay.’ As a member of the YMCA chess club, I met an awesome boyfriend.

Consider me to be wounded but resilient since ‘it got better.’ I have learned to treasure who I am, listen to my own conscience, and beware of taking religious authorities too seriously. Just because you are taught something is wrong does not make it wrong.

Now, I am brave enough to witness and celebrate my true beauty in being naturally out of the ordinary.

– By Owen Grant

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