A Student Comes Out, A Teacher Responds
This is simple. This is about teachers, the kind we wish we all had, and the kind we wish everyone else had, too.
The students in this class were asked to write an essay about the "weight that I carry daily."
One student handed in this letter:
Dear Mrs. __________,I wish to write to you about the biggest thing I carry. I've been carrying this since middle school and it's been a huge weight on me since I discovered it. The knowledge of my sexuality has been with me for about six years now, and it was a burden for a great deal of the time. It wasn't until recently that I started to slowly lift this off my shoulders. I've carried this for so long because of fear. I'm afraid of certain people finding this weight. I'm afraid of them finding the weight and thinking differently of me. Thinking negatively of me. Hating me. That's why I carry it. I just don't want to be hated. Or even worse, kicked out of people's lives. I want things to stay the same, but I want to get rid of this weight. It's weighing me down and keeping me from greater things, but again that fear comes into play and makes me think differently. The fear forces me to burden myself by carrying it even longer. Thankfully I've been able to set down minute portions of it, by sharing the knowledge that I am not "normal" per society. I've received mixed emotions. Some couldn't care less about the knowledge. Some liked me even more for it. And ultimately, some detest me for it. But I care not for those that detest the knowledge. They can go off into their sad little world of bigoted hate. I couldn't care less for them. I've been able to shave off a great deal of what I carry, but sadly , a bit remains. The bit that is reserved for my family. They will be the hardest ones to share the knowledge with, for I don't know how they will accept it. . I have no idea if they will think nothing of it, or if they will reject the love I offer them, and disown me as their son, or brother, or nephew. That, like much of this cold, dark world, is unclear to me. And sadly, there is only one true way to know how this will turn out. The day I can finally remove this weight from me, liberate my world, is the first great victory in my life. That is the day i just can't wait to see.
_____________P.S. - The main reason I've waited so long to tell you this is I just felt uncomfortable writing you this letter, and that I didn't really know how it would be responded to.I apologize for any inconvenience my selfish feelings may have caused. Thank you for reading this. It's a grand step in my journey.
The teacher wrote a note at the end of the paper:
I am honored to be witness to this weight being lifted off. You are an amazing, dynamic, compassionate, 'with it,' young man who will give the world a gift just by you being you offering your love & spirit. If people choose not to be comfortable with your honesty -- their loss, my friend, their loss.
Like I said, we all needed a teacher like this, gay or straight. Tall. Short, thin, fat. Freckled, red haired, smart, not so much.
This is teaching.