Teenaged years can be difficult. Your life, in these years strongly revolves around peer groups and being accepted. It isn’t easy. Compounding problems at home can make this worse by not having a place, a sanctuary, to reprieve too. No breaks at home, no breaks at school. At school, I didn’t have those peers who understood the things I was going through in my home life. My peers never really knew me for the person I really was because I was gay. I couldn’t relate to other youth who were “jazzed” about going to prom, voting for home coming queen and king. It was quite isolating, I couldn’t relate to them and they couldn’t relate to me. Considering the times (late 80’s early 90’s) and the school I attended, which had religious over tones and conservative nature, I wasn’t about to “come out” in the setting that I didn’t feel safe in.
My home life wasn’t much easier with religious overtones and conservatism. To make the home life a little more complicated, my step-father was an alcoholic who was abusive and my mom had multiple sclerosis was progressive and made her bed-ridden after a couple of years from her diagnoses date. Many times, at home, I felt like the parent. I was confused most of the time and angry all the time. A special person did “Reach Out. Check In. and DID Save my Life”.
It was a teacher. She listened. For the first time, someone listened to me, did not judge, did not advise, but listened. After a couple of chats, I came out to her and she gave me a book called “One in Ten: Testimony by Gay and Lesbian Youth”. Oh my god! I wasn’t alone! There were other kids just like me! Another first. I felt part of something. Indirectly, but it was something I could hold onto and know that there must be something better than where I am at. It wasn’t her duty to fix any of my problems, but she did make it her duty to give me a safe space. That place was understanding, was caring, embracing of me as a struggling human being. It’s unimaginable to predict what I would have done or where I would be today if that one teacher was not there to “Reach Out. Check In. Save a Life.” My life.