It’s hard to explain. I knew fairly early on that I was different than the other boys but I didn’t know exactly how. We liked the same games and watched the same television shows. We dressed in similar styles and played on the same sports teams. We teased girls, wrestled with each other and behaved like miniature mobsters as most pre-teen boys tend to do.
I knew what a “fag” was and I knew what a “queer” was and there was no way I was one of those. Fags and queers were boys without any friends, who were picked on and ostracized. I threw those hateful terms around as recklessly as everybody else.
I was “different” in subtle ways.
I wasn’t as enamored with Daisy Duke as my friends were. Sure, she could wear a pair of cutoff shorts like nobody’s business but the real deal was Bo and Luke with their shirts off. It wasn’t a sexual thing as I had no true understanding of what sex even was. There was just something about the male physique that was more interesting and intriguing to me.
In the middle of grade 6 everything changed. I had my revelation.
It was during a recess break when I was involved in an altercation with one of my classmates. He was one of the boys in my school who was maturing more quickly than the others, including myself. He was tall and ripped and looked exactly like Rick Springfield! We were wrestling and he had me pinned to the ground, straddling my chest with both arms held tight beneath his knees. I was unable to move.
And then, something moved…
I can say with certainty that my life has never been the same since that moment. Oh, THIS is what they mean! What had been admiration and intrigue turned to desire and need. It was revolutionary and terrifying.
I understood “fag” and “queer” in a flash of horror and regret. My brain rapidly started connecting the dots and the picture that began to reveal itself was one I wasn’t prepared to look at.
I was condemned. I was instantly unlovable.
I can now look back on that moment, with 30 years of hindsight and see things quite differently. I see a boy who had his first sexual encounter and was utterly unprepared for it. I, like everyone else, was a product of the environment I was raised in. We were an uninformed, mindless group of pre-teen hooligans who hadn’t been taught the first thing about human behavior and sexuality. We were allowed to toss around words like “faggot” and “Gaylord” with no recrimination. We are allowed to call each other “queers” and say the most derogatory things to each other with impunity.
It has to start at home, but it has to continue in our schools. We need to teach our children what is right and wrong and start educating them about sexual diversity. It is not OK to have sex education classes and not talk about sexual orientation. There are lots of boys and girls out there who are about to have their “revelation,” shouldn’t we arm them with as much information as possible?
30 years of hindsight has taught me that knowledge is power.
Or maybe that wrestling can turn your kids gay…