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efore high school, "homosexuality" and "hetero–

sexuality" were far-in-the-future ideas for me; the

labeling of classmates "lessie" or "queer" was

something that seemed to be mainly picking up on

the language of grown-ups. I knew I


different - that

there was a horror to the competitiveness that was being

trai ned into the boys and the passivity that was being

forced on the girls. And my response to it, a natural,

unanalyzed response - was something that could be

recognized by the other kids on· the football field, and

call ed names, and laughed at. I was trying then to be me -

but found out, grade by grade, that I was moving further

away from what the school and my


expected in a


I liked to put on puppet and magic shows for

neighbors and relatives, and really did enjoy playing sports,

until it seemed that the main object was always to establish

who was better, and I had to look down on others to ease

my second-stri ng feel ings of inferiority. And the way I

talked and laughed and wanted to cry sometimes all hit a

good distance away from how young men were supposed to

act. Maybe I could have changed - (it's such a hypothetical

question) - but I knew and rejected then the sell-out that

was being demanded. And I freaked at how others were

se ll ing out - last season's sideline sissies now carrying the

ball in "slaughter" at lunchtime recess; seventh graders

beginning the artificialities of the dating game in an effort

to seem "bigger"- imitating the eighth graders who set the


values in the school. A hike through the woods stands out

in memory: a friend and I had been with nature all

afternoon, and at a rest stop were talking about how we

would like to wear long hear and flowing clothes that only

women are allowed to wear in this (then, pre-hippies, even

pre-Beatles) society . But for him the sell-out had begun.

College career-man now, those latent faggy thoughts have

been long forgotten or denied, I'm afraid. Really afraid -

because of the power he's bought with that denial - power

he's going to use in trying to balance himself out now, by

straightening out his kids and students.

But it was in Prep school, at swimming practices and on

weekend trips, that I ran head-on into the full truth behind

the names I'd been called. Because along with the other

bullshit I'd rejected during the past years was an essential

credo of how young men were supposed to relate to

people: two opposite categories - girls to be called up and

spoken for and fucked, and boys to be competed against.

Unable to act out either script, I tried to develop

friendships with people I saw every day in this all-male

school. That was threat enough, in that it was covered up

by the expected dating of girls from other schools, that I

was wanting more of a closeness than could be scheduled

into the rigid role-playing of day student/night stud. But as

I began to understand my sexuality more as something I

wanted to share with people I loved, I first saw the

connection between "sissy" (defector from the male role)

and "homo." Add to this the fact that much of my