What was I?

Getting information was difficult in the 1970s. It was all so confusing. My point of reference was the tabloid press. It was what my father and grandfather read and the only available resource. I knew I couldn’t ask them.

When an actor or pop singer was in disgrace for an unmentionable act with a member of the same sex, it was all so vague. I thought I knew that couldn’t be me though as I couldn’t act or sing and had no desire for the attire and makeup of the glam rock era.

In the playground, I heard the same derogatory remarks slung at boys from each other “you’re a bummer, a wanker, a homo and a queer.” The narrative had an intent to offend and insult, but I didn’t know what the words meant. Did one of those words describe me?

The narrative had an intent to offend and insult, but I didn’t know what the words meant. Did one of those words describe me?



It was about 2.45pm on a Wednesday afternoon in the early summer of 1974. I was 11 years old. Taking the Environmental Studies class was Miss Barker a temporary teacher. It was her first day and our first lesson with her.

She was a  pretty young woman in her early to mid 2os. Casually dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt with a v-neck. Her cleavage was pert and visible. The colour of the clothing and bra beneath did nothing to conceal that she had nipples like Tractor stater buttons.

One of my friends suggested he would like Miss Barker to run her fingers down his spine. He shivered as if the thought of it had made him tingle all over. The other boys we were sat with all eagerly joined in expressing similar opinions.

I knew I did not want her to touch me. Geoff the boy at the front who was athletic, having experienced a pre-teenage explosion of testosterone would be my choice.

I don’t know why but I didn’t share it with the others. I knew it meant I was different but I did not have a name for it; or anyone I could talk to about it. In that instant, I had learned something about me and I knew it would be my secret for some time into the future.

It would be nearly 5 more years before I found out, I was not one of those playground taunts; but that I had hit the jackpot and was all of them!

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