August 15, 2011


Sarah, age 4
Tuscon, Arizona (1979)

For this kindergarten photo, I told the photographer I wanted a "serious picture." But the more he tried to make me smile, the more serious I got. And I do NOT like this dress. I wanted to wear my fireman's hat, which I was usually allowed to do, as my parents weren't really invested in any particular gender expression.

I love this picture because of its emotional honesty: I'm not smiling because I don't feel like smiling. And no one was going to push me into feeling or doing something I don't want.

While this is harder to accomplish as an adult, it's always my goal.

At this age, I knew I was a little different, and had a nascent crush on my kindergarten teacher. But I didn't yet have the words for it.

I went on to be viciously bullied in middle school, and I hope those kids are all in jail now.

Today, I have a loving partner and a diverse group of friends, and I became a writer and a teacher.

Bigoted speech -- especially the phrase "That's so gay" -- is forbidden in my classroom. Consequences are swift and severe, if I hear it.

My message to LGBTQ youth is:
Respect yourself! And do not "ignore" the bullying, because it doesn't work.
It only makes you more vulnerable; more victimized.

Bullies can tell when you're "ignoring" them, and it makes them want to do whatever they can to make you crack. The onus for stopping bullying is NOT on you -- it's on the bully, as well as the adults in charge.

You must keep talking, keep complaining, and keep demanding that something
be done - UNTIL SOMETHING IS DONE. Look your principal in the eye, and be sure to mention Jamie Nabozny - who won a huge federal lawsuit against his school administrators for failing to stop anti-gay harassment.

Lastly, keep saving your money...
There are buses leaving every day for other cities, and you can be on them!

Sarah's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Karen Carpenter (singer, The Carpenters)

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"
Karen Carpenter Original Release 4-3/4x5-3/4 Photo (Appears To Be Cut Out Of Larger Image) #DSC07520Bani Finds Her Something (The LGBTQ Anti-Bullying Series)And It Was Full of Light!: Finding the courage to overcome homophobic bullying and hateGender and Sexual Diversity in Schools (Explorations of Educational Purpose)


Just Two Chicks said...

The statement "I hope those people are all in jail now," made me smile. Good point about not ignoring the bullying.

I'm a teacher too, and would like to call myself a writer... I wouldn't go that far. I've heard the phrase "That's so gay" used many times in my classrooms, and I've only taught Kindergarten and 1st grade. It's a little disconcerting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! We need to make "gay," used pejoratively, as unacceptable as any other slur. Kids should feel safe at school, and if they don't, it's our job as teachers and parents to step in.

Also, I was a total badass in the fireman's hat. Just wanted to put that out there.

:) Sarah

Unknown said...

Strong from then huh? COOL!

Anonymous said...

i'm a Bissexual 21 girl, i'm identified to you, i knew i was a little different at that age too!!. I'm glad i'm not alone anymore!!. And i'm implementig your advice to lgbt youth. Btw, my sociology proffessor told us that youth, are just prejudice, but because adults are whom teach us how discriminate, but anyways, we accept all types of lovers. Just let you know.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

In high school the counselors wanted me to do things to befriend the bullies - I remember being trained to be a scorekeeper for basketball, for instance. I was baffled by this naive attempt to ingratiate me to my enemies. The only basketball game I attended was Donkey Basketball, which I sort of enjoyed and wrote up for the school paper.