To the class of 64
I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me; going back to school after holidays was always something I faced with trepidation.
The fear of a resurgence of the “Fucking Poofter” episodes, the fear of the ostracizing and bullying by my classmates, never left me.
Looking back now; I see this stopped me from risking any exposure of myself to anyone.
I was living a lie, but like a chameleon; I leant to adapt to this situation and only gave what people were ready to accept from me.
I had no experience making friends during my earlier years; the lack of this skill would continue to haunt me for many years. Getting close to other people was to me; fraught with danger; the fear of being hurt was a constant in my life.
This aloneness, was both; the safety blanket to protect me from hurt and, the reason why the hurts so affected me.
There was no one for me to be honest with at school and there was certainly no one to confide in at home.
Perhaps the worst of this, was that I didn’t really know myself. It is pretty hard to expose something about yourself if, you don’t know who or what, that self is.
I shared the same prejudices many of you had or perhaps still do; against anybody who may have displayed any indication of what, we would call today, gay tendencies. I am probably as guilty as many, for allowing those prejudices to infect my life.
There is no definite outward evidence of gayness, there is no one you can be sure is the same as you, there is no one to turn to without exposing something deep, dirty and disgusting about yourself.
It is so easy to hide!
How can you like yourself when you despise what your real self may be?
The fear was all encompassing, the loneliness was desperate and the self-hate was certainly not good for any sense of self-esteem.
There is a sense of unworthiness that never really leaves you. I can realise now how stupid this is, but it would take many years before I would get the confidence to trust myself.
I know many of you, were enriched by your experiences at school and there are times when I am envious of this and the relationships that have lasted for years.
But; for all its faults, its ups and; its downs; I can honestly say, I cannot regret too much about how my life has turned out.
The school of hard knocks can be an exhilarating experience.