#Gay, #lesbian, #bisexual or who the hell knows what at twelve years old, none of it was OK. Such a hard-wired narrative. There are still lots of those kids out there, carrying old adolescent fears of discovery in middle-aged bodies. Fears that don’t end like a Teams call when we fire up the laptop to start a new day. Is it OK to be the real me? Is it OK to be gay? Would you still like me if you really knew…
Keith was picked on in junior high because he was effeminate. Unlike the cool kids in the movies who stand up to bullies, I avoided Keith and, to the best of my not-always-successful abilities, the bullies. The risk of guilt by association. I wouldn’t sacrifice my place in the intricately illogical social strata of adolescence to protect the vulnerable.
Keith’s fate would not be mine. I continued honing survival skills, hoping to make it one more day through adolescence. The only way out was to sacrifice him to save myself, so I thought. Whether you were a Keith or the kid desperate to stay out of the line of fire, the lesson was the same: be careful about being you.
Proud? Nope. Whenever I open that laptop, my adolescence is right there with me. So is how I treated Keith.
Who were you in junior high? Did you stand up to the bullies? Were you a bully? Were you Keith? What part of that kid goes with you to work every day?
We’re nearing the end of #holyweek2023, which ends with the most important liturgy of the year in the #christian church: the Great Vigil of Easter....
This is an excerpt from my book that’s coming out on June 6th, “Opening the Corporate Closet.” This is about a friend of mine whose work environment was quite different to my own, yet as an external client server, I understood all too well the choices he was facing as a gay man.
My aspirational life with Joanne was key to my evolving straight persona, out of junior high and on to high school, college and beyond. She embodied the perfection of my future life. Wanting to marry my Joanne felt normal. I wasn’t suppressing anything since I wasn’t gay anyway.