First days always fill me with dread.

If you ever want to know why I can always manage to put my foot in it – at any given opportunity, it goes way back to the multitude of “first-days”

The last week of August was always hell.

Except the one between primary and secondary school. That’s because I had, at the age of 10, decided that I didn’t want to follow the rest of my primary school classmates down the normal route of going to the secondary school that ours was a feeder for. Why? Well, every day of my existence at my primary school was filled with homophobic bullying. You see, I was unlike all of the other boys.

I played with the girls, I despised sports but was surprisingly good at skipping.

In my first month of primary school, I decided, that the boys’ uniform was far too bland and that the girls’ socks were much more in keeping with my sensibilities. Obviously, as a five-year-old, I had no means of obtaining my own pair of the crochet patterned socks, but I did notice a pair in the lost property. I’ve always had an eye for detail and a bargain bin. I snuck in one lunchtime and, I didn’t steal, I borrowed them.

I wore them proudly into the schoolyard, leaning up against the playground wall. I was working it. As far as I was concerned, I was the pretty minx in my mother’s magazines. That was the day my bully-free school days ended.

Whoever said your childhood years are the happiest of your life, clearly wasn’t a queer kid. You grow up quickly when you face that much hate.

Each “first day back” after the summer holidays became agony. That last week of the summer holiday, was the cruellest. I eeked out every last moment of freedom. Oh yes, I loved getting the new pencil case (from Woolworths) and matching it with my lunchbox (I was never allowed the My Little Pony one, due to fears of exacerbating the bullying problem). I’ve always been a strong believer in creating a brand, but despite my new classroom accessories – I, personally, was never allowed to rebrand. First day back would be groundhog day.

Then there was the summer of change, between primary and secondary. It was a summer of hope. I was going to go to a new school. Nothing to do with my old one. No one from my primary was going to go. Whilst my former classmates adhered to the feeder system,  I went my own road, backed by my ever, increasingly worried parents.

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But I was one of those damned queer kids that just wouldn’t or actually couldn’t conform. Once again I found myself hanging around with the girls, but not the Mean Girls – these were the year’s before it was “trendy” to have a gay best friend (even though I wasn’t out – or accepting of my own sexuality.

My football skills were woefully inadequate and the drama block was a magnet.

I was Baking Off before Bake Off.

By the end of the first day, I was literally dumped in a bin by a fifth former. That week I was “bin boy”, but soon that gave way to a slew of name-calling. One day my class decided to play “Did you hear?”. It was like an earlier version of Twitter. Someone would start a rumour and whisper into the ear of the next person. That day’s rumour – as I walked towards the form room, was that I had killed myself over the weekend. As I got closer, those rumours had flesh to bone added, the way I had dispensed with myself and how tragic it was for my family. People in class kept this pretence up most of the morning.

I just didn’t have the skills to deal with bullying. The “tell the teacher” mantra was inadequate and in the days of Section 28 – teachers just didn’t know how to deal with homophobic bullying.

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I showed my taunters that it hurt. I now wish I hadn’t… I wish I had owned every name thrown at me and with a rye smile and a naughty side eye added, “and?”

Inside I’m crippled.

I’m always that ten-year-old in my mind – constantly worried about being binned again.

Perhaps if RuPaul’s Drag Race had started a decade (or two) earlier I could have learned to read each and every person who called me a poof, a queer, a pervert or gay lord. I think that fear of new situations has remained with me, even into adulthood. The only way I seem to be able to get through the situation is to say something… anything… usually something totally inappropriate.

You see, inside I’m crippled. I’m always that ten-year-old in my mind – constantly worried about being binned again. So I use humour and self-deprecation as a way of dealing with new situations. You see, life gives us constant New Days – or First Day Backs and now… I can always be counted upon to say the most inappropriate things at the right time.

About the author: Jake Hook
The editor and chief of THEGAYUK. All in a previous life wrote and produced songs on multi-platinum records.

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