Sometimes it’s not so easy to Thrive – to TURN UP our volume – to be true to ourselves as teachers. It seems easier to hide who we are so we can survive.
Something in you dies a little every day that you are not true to yourself.
Sometimes it’s not so easy to Thrive….
Sometimes it’s not so easy to TURN UP our volume – to turn up our VOICE…
Being true to ourselves can be costly.
Fearful of losing our jobs, or of rejection, or of getting offside with our colleagues.
It sometimes seems easier to turn down our volume – or hide who we really are so that we survive.
It’s something I can very much relate to.
Today’s post recounts some painfully challenging times – when I was teaching in a religious school.
I was in the early years of a same-sex relationship….that’s still standing strong today (Yahoo Simon)
It was, although I didn’t know it at the time, a Turning Point – a cross-road – when I began to own my truth.
In the next part of this series, I detail the strategies that lead me out of invisibility – into connectedness – into being me – truly ME.
Part A: The Job
Inner suburb…Leaving home each morning – driving to work –
…Leaving a huge part of me behind.
As I arrive – Outer suburb – a new Greg comes into being
Closing myself down – ever alert – monitoring thoughts, words, actions.
Must be sure that NO-ONE knows
Must be sure that NO-ONE works it out
Be aware. Be aware. BE AWARE.
Be aware of questions –
Know which ones to give a closed response to,
AND definitely know which questions to avoid –
…those that render the unsuitable visible
Be alert – Know who you can and can’t trust.
It’s an incredibly demanding, [seemingly] all encompassing monitoring system.
Draining me of energy – effervescence – self
I could never just be, or….
perhaps more accurately I ‘chose’ never to be who I really was.
…nope didn’t really have them.
“What did ya do on the weekend?”
Refusing to use the ‘oh-so-inoffensive’ – ‘my friend’ – to refer to my partner.
And so I said nothing about him.
I became an expert at giving nothing away.
And the distance grew between me and my colleagues.
Twas often said, “We don’t know much about you, do we?”
….nope didn’t attend them.
I didn’t want to pretend that I was partnerless
I didn’t want to pretend that I wasn’t in a relationship.
Silence – Hiding – Covering-Up…became my everyday routine.
- …As they remained safely ensconced in their limited world views about GAYS;
- As they described what we were like;
- As they explained how we got to be that way;
- As they explained how it sick it made them;
- As they hushed, went red, stumbled for words – at any mention of US.
What about US speaking for US?
- Uncomfortable – Uneasy – Uncertain.
TORN between the security of a job and the sacrificing of myself for that security.
Part B: My Reality comes to School
…there’s that sinking feeling…
I’d lost my car keys…
All afternoon I spent devouring my office – re-tracing my steps.
With the aid of my prep surveillance team we combed the oval where I’d previously been on yard duty.
No blade of grass was left unperused…
Who had a spare set?
There’s a set at home.
I’d have to get my partner to bring them in…
It was the most crazy, unexpected feeling…
One of the most significant people in my life.
Yet significantly insignificant to many at school –
coming into the domain of heterosexualdom,
where no other sexual realities seemingly exist.
My reality comes to school in a big way…
- how do I explain him?
- how do I stand near him?
- how do I act near him?
Self beating as I consider ‘obscuring’ the truth
I don’t need to mention an identity at all
What version of the story do I give to each person?
Can I reveal his identity to Kiera, or John…?
What about Peter? Would he be okay?
Oh FUCK! What if the Parish Priest wanders by?
Around, around, around – ON and on and on the mind games go.
- What if someone walks by when he arrives?
- What if they notice the connection, the rapport between us?
- What if I or he gives it away?
- What if they notice the smile?
All this and he’s over half an hour away from school…
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 – Australian Youth-Lead Support Service for LGBTIQ young people
- The Trevor Project – USA (Youth Support Service)
- It gets better USA (Youth Support Service)
Thanks for sharing! Hiding is hard work and as you said….saps the energy right out of you.
Thanks Shari too for your feedback. Yes hiding is hard work – and can be really destructive to ourselves Finding and creating spaces where we can just be who we are – is so important for our well-being.
Are you on Voxer and if so, what is your handle? Thanks!
Not on Voxer Shari. Trying to stay focused with the social media I have at the moment.
What an important fantastic post. You’re an inspiration for a lot of people, Greg.
We all hide part of ourselves and it’s never good for us. But it’s something else when you know or feel the people around you will not accept you.
One day you’ll have to finish the story. =)
Thanks so much Rob. That story has been sitting on my hard-drive for a while so it finally sees the light of day. So I’m especially appreciative of your support and encouragement. Yep that next part of the story is being lived and felt right now – open, okay and loved as I am.