My Two Cents: I am one of the Lucky Ones
I was born in small town Iowa, with loving parents, four older brothers that I looked up to and a childhood anyone would be jealous of. That does not mean it was easy. It started in elementary school already. There are no words that can really explain it, but I knew I was different to my friends. I didn’t understand what it was, but I knew I was different.
As I grew up and became a teenager things became clearer, but denial was stronger than fact. I didn’t want to disappoint my family and friends or be an outcast. Why did I have to be different? Why did God choose me?
These thoughts and continued, but as I began high school, I realized what I was so hard trying to hide wasn’t working. I went to my locker one day as a sophomore and was horrified to what I would find. When I opened my locker, the words “Faggot” were written down the inside of my locker door in permanent marker. My heart sunk, I wanted to run. I wanted to hide, but there was no where to go. There were other students everywhere so I grabbed my lunch and quickly shut the door. I didn’t think the pain could get any worse, but it did. I sat down to eat my lunch with some friends in the lunch room and we started to chat and laugh and the pain slowly faded away. After I ate my sandwich and chips, I opened my ding dong wrapped in the aluminum foil and started eating it. All of the sudden everyone at the table started laughing. I didn’t know what was going on and then I looked down and saw my fingers were blue. The same person(s) that wrote in my locker opened my lunch and opened the foil of the Hostess Ding Dong and covered it with blue ink and carefully wrapped the foil back around it. They weren’t just laughing. They were laughing at me. I realized my entire mouth was covered with blue permanent ink. I suddenly knew how the woman in The Scarlet Letter with the “A” on her clothes felt. This time, I did run and I did hide. No one knew why the ink was on my food, but to me the ink said “You are a fag! No one will ever love you or except you for who you are”!
I write the story above, not for sympathy, but for you everyone reading this to understand that words matter. Actions matter. Feelings matter. I write this to let you know, if I was not as strong and confident of a person as I was brought up to me, things could have been much different.
According to the CDC, suicide is the second highest cause of death among people aged 10-24 and this rate is three times higher for Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual children and young adults. Attempted suicide is 5 times higher for gay, lesbian and bi-sexual young adults and children as with heterosexuals in the same age bracket. If you are from a family that rejects you, that number jumps to 8.4 times.
I could continue with the statistics because there are a lot of them, but I believe my point has been made. This is why I titled this blog “I Am One of the Lucky One’s” because that is how I feel. I did not officially come out until I was in college and there were a few rough times with some family members, but time is a great healer and education is a great way to help people understand. I am lucky! I survived and now I am thriving!
Guess what? I am different and I am proud of who I am. As a society, we must learn to accept differences. Remember, what you say and do does matter. You can make a difference in someone’s life so choose to make it a positive one.
“My 2 Cents” is an open forum for our employees to share their personal thoughts on social issues related to equity. While opinions on topics may vary – the SERVE Committee believes that we can all grow and learn by listening to others, hearing what they have to say, and reflecting on our own beliefs and perspectives. While we encourage openness and honesty, we likewise expect and require professionalism and respect in sharing those thoughts and opinions.