I remember a scene from a movie. A father is sitting with his son. He's smiling, telling stories of boyhood bliss. As I watched this scene, I came to a realization. That will never be me. My school years were not joyful. They were filled with insecurity and fear, for one simple reason: the other students thought, and eventually knew, that I was gay.
On the school bus in grade six, I would sit near the front, by the driver, and keep to myself. One day, the only seats available were near the back, where the bullies sat.
I felt like vomiting. I slowly made my way to the back, reached my seat and sank down low.
A head appeared over my shoulder. "Hey there, gay boy. What the fuck you doing sitting back here?" It was Sparrow, an eighth-grader who devoted his life to making those younger than himself miserable.
He moved and sat beside me. "So, faggot, suck any cocks lately?" I wanted to jump out the window. (Damn those child safety locks.)
"Too bad I'm not a fag, too." I wanted to cry. "Come on, fairy, sit between my legs." His friends laughed. "Sit between them now or I'll beat the shit out of you."
He grabbed me by the back of the neck and forced me to the floor. He began pressing himself against me. Tears began to roll down my cheeks.
"You like that? I know you do. Now get the fuck off me!"
He threw me down into the aisle, where I landed on my stomach.
"Get back in your seat!" the bus driver yelled.
The bus stopped and I ran off, five stops early. I walked the rest of the way home, crying. Why hadn't the bus driver done anything?
The next day I told a teacher what had happened. I was told to ignore them. The teasing continued. I was in constant fear of being beat up.
Sometimes a teacher would overhear a student call me gay and would tell them it wasn't "nice."
I ended up having to switch schools twice. At each school, the same harassment happened.
My demeanour always gave me away. I was quiet, withdrawn, loved to write, didn't play sports, spoke softly and dressed well.
Finally, I made it to high school. My first enemies were made in gym class. Even though I wasn't a flaming queen, they began to suspect I was gay. Soon they began calling me fag, gay boy, fairy and queen.
When changing for gym, they'd hide themselves from me and threaten me - they didn't want me to check them out. (They didn't have to worry.)
Rumours that I was gay spread.
One day as I was walking down the hall at Silverthorne CI (my high school), I came across someone who had been harassing me since the beginning of the year. As I walked by, he muttered, "Fag."
I'd had it.
I said, "I have put up with you for way too long. If you wanna go, then let's go."
He spat at my feet, and I punched him in the stomach. He never bothered me again.
I didn't go on a rampage after that, attacking those who bothered me. I still tried to ignore them.
In grade 10, I was assigned a locker beside one of the school's major bullies. One day, when I was leaning in, looking for a book, he came along and slammed the door against my head. Blood trickled down my forehead. "Stupid fag" was all he had to say.
During the summer between grades 11 and 12, I began to visit the gay village. I made friends with other queer youth and found a place where I was accepted.
In grade 12 I began to tell friends, but I guess I told the wrong friend, because it got out. Harassment intensified.
But now when I was called "fag," I'd say, "I prefer being called 'homosexual' - it's more PC," with a purposeful lisp.
When asked, "What you looking at, fag?" again in a lisp I would say, "Why, you - I think you're sexy."
I always made sure I had a comeback ready. The harassment died down slightly.
I made contact with a guidance counsellor and told her everything. Finally I felt safe. I could go to her if anything happened.
I came out to my favourite teacher, then to my old English teacher, then to my English teacher, my co-op teacher and finally to my drama teacher. All showed genuine concern. Knowing they were there somehow made everything easier.
Due to a move, I had to leave Silverthorne and go to Jarvis CI for my OAC year.
Having had a positive experience at Silverthorne, I decided to go to the guidance department, where I found one counsellor who helped me. Through careful planning, long discussion and advice from her and from my writer's craft teacher, I decided it wouldn't be horrible if I took a year off school to give myself time to recuperate.
I dropped out. For now.