This post is dedicated to: all who tirelessly work for social justice – who work to open the doors to possibility and potential for us all.
That moment when Love Wins
As I rolled over, he’s there wide awake, waiting.
He’s been waiting patiently for ages, waiting to tell me the news.
News that we’d been hanging out for. News that was life-changing.
Every day, without fail, he’d tell me when we were likely to hear the news – as he kept an ever watchful eye on all the news feeds – just so he didn’t miss – when the news did break.
And then, it did, the news broke ahead of the expected time,
And what was I doing….sleeping!!
That grin on his face says it all. He almost doesn’t need to say it.
But I want to hear him say it – to make it all the more real
Although in Australia – it’s was one of those – ‘where were you when X was announced’ scenarios.
We were both on a stratospheric high …
- knowing just how much this decision would impact on so many levels in so many people’s lives – across the age groups;
- knowing the hope, the possibility and chance that this decision offered;
- seeing this day come – a day we’d not thought possible in our lifetimes.
And yet the high was tinged or dampened somewhat:
- knowing the blood, sweat and tears of those that had come before and fought for an equality that they’d never see in their lifetimes;
- knowing those who’d ended their lives – seeing a future without hope or love;
- knowing that there was still much work to do – on an equality front – that bigotry and prejudice was not over.
And over the course of the next few days, as I watched and listened to all that I could about this landmark Supreme Court case
As I bathed in the joy and excitement of so so many people (I mean I couldn’t get enough of it).
A swathe of memories were awakened within me…
There I was:
kneeling in the church, praying for the nightmare to end.
forever feeling lost and without hope – surrounded by silence – and yet acutely aware that who I was – was definitely not right according to the world around me.
delighting in the world of ballet while the adults around me mocked me.
despairing that I’d never find someone who’d love or care for me.
the painfully self-aware, utterly alone, young boy and young man, who watched his every hand gesture and movement of the body lest I give myself away and cop more abuse.
lying in the corridor, semi-conscious, people stepping over me. No-one asking are you okay.
out on my bike, out in the bush all alone – free and absolutely home.
returning to my locker, finding abusive graffiti scrawled on it, and the deputy principal saying:
Well Greg does bring it on himself. Look at the way he walks and talks.
in the music classes created for kids like me who weren’t the sporty types. And although not especially talented I felt secure and protected here – thanks to two quirky teachers.
furiously searching for even the slightest of hints that there was someone like me within the books and magazines in my small country town library. I just wouldn’t give up.
walking that walkway everyday – refusing to take another route – walking past the throngs of kids who’d line it spitting abuse at those of us who didn’t fit the macho, sporty persona.
wondering why this Physical Education teacher supported and encouraged me. This was the subject where I felt most vulnerable but he was different to all the PE and Sports teachers.
failing essay after essay…with my English teacher wondering why my writing was so stilted!
starting my final school year anew after failing big time. And in this new school I was taught by a Nun who after a rocky start saw the possibility in me.
circling the block many years later, nearly being physically ill as I dared to step through the doors…to meet others like me.
leaving my country, to find me, to build a new life of honesty and open-ness – with people that accepted me as me. And where I started to consistently give voice to my voice – not hiding, not covering up, not censoring.
And that’s why…
…this moment of equality (even in a country a long way away) mattered so, so much to me.
Cos I could never have imagined the vague-est possibility of such a moment –
a moment when Love Wins on such a large and dramatic scale for same-sex attracted people – when I was a young boy or man.
And that sense of ‘possibility’ is utterly critical.
As are those moments of ‘possibility’ where we’re:
- incited by teachers that are different;
- incited by teachers that see something in us that we cannot yet see or are wary of embracing;
- incited by spaces where we can just be;
- incited by people that stand up for us when so many look the other way;
- incited by people that accept and value us as we are – without pretence;
- incited as we find others like us.
So what about you?
How do you incite possibility with your students – especially those whose diversity challenges the status quo?
It might seem like it at the time but you’re never alone. There’s always support out there.
- Teacher first, gay second – Paul France wrote this inspiring post about coming out to his students.
- Rainbow Frontier – Jen Moes looks at education through “rainbow coloured lenses”
- Gay and Lesbian Special Interest Group – New South Wales Teachers’ Federation, Australia
- Gay and Lesbian Switchboard Australia (Includes Support group lists)
- Stonewall – UK (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Rights Organisation. Many Education resources.
- International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
- Minus18 is an Australian Youth Lead organisation that supports LGBTIQ young people
- The Trevor Project – USA (Youth Support Service)
- It gets better USA (Youth Support Service)
Social Justice – Tips and Insights
If you’re passionate about social justice in education – click the images below to read or listen: