They bussed them in from every rinky-dink, hokey poke farm, gully, creek, valley & village. Oh yes, the social climate was extremely diverse…the mentality, however, was not.
It wasn’t long before I began being taunted by older students who remembered me playing with Barbie dolls with the girls in K & 1st grades. So, of course, the proverbial grapevine had become tangled & unmanageable & I was pegged, branded, declared a “FAG.” There were, I’m sure, fantastic & preposterous assertions that were added as those long days went by; but all in all, “FAG” seemed to be enough.
It didn’t help that I was tall, lean & rather gangly…and uncoordinated because of it. The hours I had spent putting together outfits from the fashion knowledge I had gleaned from my mother’s extensive collection of catalogs didn’t help matters either. I was fashion conscious, well-mannered, well-groomed & just plain pretty. These are not characteristics normally found with young men from farming, factory, church-going, beer-guzzling communities. I was different & I knew it. Now what?
Who would understand my dilemma? Who would shield me under their wing & tell me everything was all right? Who would sit me down & explain to me that these “feelings” were normal? Aha! Eureka! (insert light bulb directly over head) The guidance counselor! Of course! She would be able to see that I was special, that I had incredible potential. So, how to approach the subject?
I walked into her office with my pink & blue izod polo & white carpenter overalls, belted of course...accessorized with a new pair of Sperry Dock Siders. I was so uncomfortable, but she was very inviting & friendly. “What can I do for you today, sweetie?” she said. “I-I, I think I, I think I might be gay.” There. I said it. Now, everything will be fine. Not quite. Always be leery of very friendly people…a monumental advisory I would learn to live by.
In the conversation that followed, I told her of my attraction to the other boys, especially the large appendages attached to the jocks. FYI, the jocks in smalltown farming “cuntry” look extraordinarily like grown men. Yes, oh yes, the hormones & libido were actively growing at light speed. I continued to tell her of my desires to have a boyfriend, fall in love, marry & eventually have children. Naïve much?
She didn’t say, one way or the other, whether I was wrong for feeling this way, it was a sin, or anything like that. She simply listened with her kind face looking at me with such an understanding expression. She really made me feel as if I were going to be okay. There was another counselor that she wanted me to talk to at the Counseling Center in town. She assured me that this new counselor would help me understand better what was going on inside of me & help me to find my place amongst my peers. She then handed me a slip of paper to give to my mother explaining the need for further “professional” counseling, along with my hall pass to return to the combat zone.
The day had arrived. It was the day of my 1st visit at the Counseling Center. I couldn’t keep my mind on any of my classes. After all, I was going to embark on a journey that could be life-altering. How was I supposed to listen to Civil War droning or learn what happens when you mix common household chemicals together. I was about to find out why God had made me so different, so special, so exceptional, so gay.
My word! The man is really big! Like a football player ( I found out later he had been)! Not gorgeous, but handsome. Just a normal, run-of-the-mill, guy-next-door type of man. “So…why don’t you tell me what you told Ms. N.(the name has been omitted for obvious reasons)” he said. It was hard to find the words. After all, this was a man. My lovely guidance counselor was a woman. She had nothing to gain or fear from me. This big, burly, man’s man could decide he was infatuated with me & try to take advantage. We were, after all, in a locked office at the end of the hall with the other offices being further towards the front of the building. No! I had to be strong. Like Wonder Woman, yes. She was powerful. Even though she was an extremely beautiful & desirable woman, men respected her because of her strength, her wisdom & her authoritative presence. Yes, I would have to make my secret identity a strong-willed & powerful character. I must become an Amazon in the eyes of this man.
To Be Continued…