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.
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"