For National Coming Out Day, Tuesday, October 11, 2022, the LGBT Network sent me a box of pride rainbow and trans ribbons to distribute to students in my school to support "coming out" against violence, discrimination, and abuse against members of our community. Here's more tea:
Coming out as a Teacher
I came out as a teacher in 2017. I remember the moment — it was on a school trip to Nantucket. On a whim, a group of kids, a few other teachers, and I went to an author talk: the novelist Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who wrote Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, was speaking at the Nantucket theater. Mr. Sáenz spoke about writing young adult fiction, a term, he said, didn't apply to him, but apparently, young adults find his novels appealing. I asked a question about coming out, and I said, "As a gay kid growing up, we did not have representation of gay, lesbian, or trans youth, and I told him how grateful I was for this generation that is changing.
Since then, I have been out as a teacher. I have helped start a GSA club at my school, and I included Sáenz's book in the English Langauge Arts curriculum for our teachers. I even created an elective course, "History Comes Out," where we explored biographies of queer figures in history and pop culture.
Not that I was in the closet, necessarily, before that time, in Nantucket, but I feel like I kept my sexuality to myself and did not talk about it in the classroom, sticking mainly to the role of "single, guy, teacher vibes." I was out to my close circle of co-workers and family, but I bifurcated who I was from my role as a teacher.
Now, the fact that I am a gay male in New York City is not a huge deal. We are legion. But, the number one reason I am vocal about my sexual orientation and gender expression is that I want to normalize the experience for kids who might need or want a different kind of adult. I feel like, sometimes, I have to conform to some heteronormative script that I have concocted in my head. And it has taken a while; I am still learning that I can just be myself.
Growing Up GayI grew up as a gay boy in South Louisiana in the 1990s. It was like going to a crawfish boil and telling everyone you don’t eat seafood. They’d look at you like you just grew two heads.
Now — as an adult — I’m out and proud. So shut your face if you don’t like it. Just kidding! Kinda.
National Coming Out Day
Today is National Coming Out Day. Thank you, @lgbtnetwork and @nycschools, for supporting my school @gardenschoolnyc and @gardenstudents with LGBTQ+ ribbons. The kids who participated love love loved it.
Here are details from the day:
A twelve-year-old girl came to me with a drawing she had made on her art 🖼️ app of me as a woman. She was so proud to show me. It made me appreciate my feminine side. A boy talked to me about transphobia and discussed strategies to combat it. And @bats4k gave a heartfelt speech at our school's weekly morning meeting. At dismissal, one of my students was sure to say, “I wore my ribbon all day!”
I am one proud teacher, gay man, gender-affirming, inclusivity-loving individual. Sprinkles!
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