26 01 2011

Back in high school in Grade 10, while the girls in PE class were having a self-defense class and learning all 101 ways to break a guy’s nose in the event he attacks her, the boys were getting their own lessons — in self-esteem.  Or something.

A man came in and we had what seemed like an hour and a half long pep-talk about what it takes to be a man.  Throughout the class, we did various things like stand in a big circle and confess to our new instructor one person we thought was our hero/someone we looked up to while he looked at us right in the eyes, as if to see if we were being genuine or not.  I remember Sean Tevlin said Jack Black and while we laughed, our pep-talker told us if Sean really did in fact look up to Mr. Black, that it wasn’t really something we should be laughing at — or at least not in a “Why would anyone look up to him?” way.

Another activity we did was listing things that were expected of being men, and another list of things that were not expected of men.  All was going well when someone said, an expectation for not being a man, “Gay.”  The room was silent (though it may have been silent-ish before the phrase was uttered).  I felt a lump in my throat.

“Does everyone agree with this?” the man asked us.

I wanted to shout out a simple, “No!” or to shake my head or do something, anything.  My mind was screaming at me to do something but all I could do was sit there stupidly, staring at him while everyone around me did the same.

Because speaking up would’ve meant that that person was gay.  No one wanted to do that.

The moment passed.  He seemed disappointed that no one said anything, and reluctantly put it on the board, on the list of expectations a man shouldn’t be.  And in that moment, I knew I would regret never saying anything.

You could argue that I was only just starting to come out and my nervousness, not to mention that I was/am a shy person at times, and that speaking up about it would’ve been understandable hard.

That’s not good of an excuse for me.  I was scared — scared of what using my voice, scared of what others would think of me.

It still is hard for me to speak up sometimes.  But then I think of this and how easy it is to say nothing, and I know:

I am better than that.