With all of my recent posts about coming out of the closet, you might wonder, why this blog is called The Closet Professor. It is simply because for years, I was out and proud. Circumstances, however, have changed, and this post is meant to explain that. I make every effort to be as honest as possible with you guys, and I am not in the business of misleading you. I felt that this post is particularly significant (maybe only for me, but there are others out there who can relate to my situation.
This is a post that I have been trying to compose for a few weeks now. It is certainly not an easy topic for me, but in the interest of being honest (as I strive to be as far as I can and keep my anonymity with you guys), I felt the need to tell this story and explain where I am currently in my life. After 8 years of being out and proud, with the attitude of “fuck ‘em” if they can’t accept that I am gay, I returned home to live with my parents for a year. My graduate funding had run out, the academic job market was in shambles, and I had a choice to make. I could either continue to work in the part time job I had, and get another job, leaving me little time to finish my dissertation, or I could move home with my parents, save some money, try to finish my dissertation, and hope to find a job the next year. If I was going to finish graduate school, my choice was clear. I had to move home.
Moving home was a very difficult decision because my parents had never come to accept my homosexuality. This was not likely to change, it was an unspoken agreement that I would end my gay “lifestyle,” and basically any social life that I had as long as I was living with them. Everything I did would be watched and questioned by them. I would be living in a very rural area (the nearest town was an hour away). As tough of a decision as this was, I decided I could take anything for a year. It would only be a year. So, I began my year of solitude with my parents, with only short excursions to visit a friend of mine a few states away, where I could be as gay as I wanted to be, while they were hoping that I was moving away from a gay “lifestyle” and closer to a heterosexual relationship with the female friend that I was going to visit. In other words, my friend was my beard.
As I said, I thought I could take anything for a year. However, things did not go as planned, as they so rarely do. My dissertation did not progress as it should have. There were problems with my dissertation committee. I had to restart with a new adviser. The job market did not improve, even with the President, economists, and all the other talking heads out there, proclaimed that the Great Recession was ending and the economy was improving. Higher education is the first hit by economic downfall, and the very last to recover. Politicians think that tuition can take up all of the slack of decreased budgets, but if no one can afford tuition as it is, how are they going to pay higher tuition? So I had to once again look for alternatives. I found a part-time teaching job at a local college. It got me out of the house, back to the classroom that I loved, and I had wonderful students. The adjunct class and a prescription for Prozac, markedly improved my mood. I decided to make the best of a bad situation.
I could not teach in public schools because none of my degrees were in education, so without returning to school for another masters degree or at least taking further education classes, I could not get certified to teach in public schools. So my options began to be thus: find a job in a small private school, move to live with my friend a few states away and get any job I could find, find a position within my field but not in teaching, or remain with my parents if none of these options worked out. Moving with my friend was not a very good option. I love her, but living with her would have driven me crazy. She was fun to visit, but not to live with. I really did not want to remain under the watchful eye and scrutiny of my parents. So those two options were mostly out the window. Finding a job marginally related to my field was also not a viable option because there were not jobs to be had because of the economy. So I began, reluctantly, to look into teaching at a private school.
Most of these school are small conservative schools, with a Christian oriented curriculum, and a morality clause in their contracts. If I was hired by one of these school, discretion would be absolutely necessary. By the way, these school rarely paid very much, about half of what I would have made at a full time position at a college. So I apply, and with my credentials, I get hired. At least, I am in a classroom again. I love teaching,and it is my passion. I just prefer to teach adults not teenagers. AD/HD and ADD is an epidemic in America. Those who teach and can deal with the stress that kids deal out to us everyday, are saints (I’m not referring to myself here, because they really try my patience most days). I tried to look on the bright side of things (as I always try to do. I strive to be an optimist.)
Then, just as I think things are going well, I have moved into my new house. I have a job, one doing what I love to do. Then I am informed, on the Friday before school starts, that my feminine behavior has been a subject of discussion. We were on another subject, dealing somewhat with the idea of me being liberal minded, when he says, "But this brings up another topic. We have at least two boys here with feminine tendencies. And since you do as well, several of the boys are going to try you. One came up to me last night and made a comment about it. I told him that he can't be gay and be a Christian and teach here." I began to fume. I didn't show it. I just responded that I can handle these kids. They will learn that they can't push me around or show me any disrespect. I won't allow that kind of mess and I don't have the time or the patience to deal with this type of foolishness.
What I really wanted to say was this: "First of all, I can handle my own. I am more of a man than most of the men and boys at this school will ever be. I can also shoot a rifle better and more accurately than any one of them, they can just try me. It is none of your goddamn business what I do in my personal life, as long as I appear to be an upstanding citizen and I don't flaunt my "feminine tendencies." Moreover, I am in no way feminine. My voice may not be the deepest, but once any of these students make me mad, I will turn into their worst nightmare, not a drama queen."
So, as it stands, I am back in the closet. I have to finish graduate school, make myself more viable to faculty positions in higher education, and move the hell away from this hell hole. The three P’s will get me through this time in my life: Pray, Positive thinking, and Prozac (not to mention “M” for masturbation, “D” for discretion, “F” for fantasies, and “B” for all my blog buddies out there who help me stay connected to my true self—you guys make the closet not such a lonely place. THANK YOU!!! I LOVE ALL OF YOU GUYS!).
Thank you all for reading. Your comments, suggestions, and snide remarks are always welcomed. For now this will end my “Coming Out” post (I may have one more in me though), since technically I am no longer out in my public life at home. I will gladly answer most any questions you may have, and will do my best to fulfill any requests for future posts on this blog. If there is any advice I can give or information I can provide, I am more than willing to do my best.
For a follow-up to this post, please see: It’s Not All Bad…