Are you gay?
Let’s start off with High School. As a 25 year old it feels like a life time away now. I spent 6 years at that school and since then 7 years has past. Nevertheless High School shaped me in many ways, some good and some, unfortunately, held me back, and still does to this current day.
Arran High is a small school with only about 300 or so pupils attending while I was there. A small school is great, more one on one time with your teacher, smaller classes, closer bonds with your class mates. For the first few years, this was great. For starters I will explain, our High School system combines the 3 way tiered system that the American and English systems use. We stay in the same school from the age of 13 to 18. We don’t have Junior High or Middle School. This means even more quality time with the same people you met when you were 13 for 6 years. Also by living on an island it means long bus trips to the school everyday. Fast forward 3 or 4 years. I’m 16, in the midst of my teenage years, going through some changes mentally and physically. Everyone changes at a different pace, for me I guess I was average, I didn’t shoot up all of a sudden to 6 foot unfortunately like some of my class mates. Felt like I was always playing catch up in that regard.
I was never a popular kid at school. I had a few close friends, we only hung out in pairs during the school day. Having one close friend who happens to be a guy seems to be consequential in High School. We would always hang out at the same spot during break or before classes started. Never where bigger groups of kids hanged out, and we always avoided the older students. You can’t always avoid them though.
There’s always a group of girls, in any High School that will try to get their opinion of you known to the world. It seems unavoidable and when you’re 16. Cliques always exist and normal human communication hasn’t appeared to have developed yet. We would casually walk around the school during our break and hear someone shout for a distant “Hey gay boys!”. I’d look back and see them follow us from a distance in the corridor, of course it’s them. The bitchiest girls in the year. They would do anything for attention. I look back and just ignore them and we continue walking, but they decide to continue to pursue us. I can hear them talking to themselves uttering words like ‘gay’ ‘poofs’ ‘lovers’. I lose my tempter and shout “Shut up!” in the corridor. Which worked, but they just snigger and laugh then walked by us. That was obviously what they wanted, a reaction. That was just the beginning. The friends you had a primary, aren’t there for you anymore. They would join in on the fun and shout “are you gay?!” in the High School grounds. You don’t respond because why would you. This is how you become a social recluse, you stop talking to people who verbally abuse you, but what else can you do? At this point I deny these accusations because actually, I did not know fully what being gay meant. And here comes the only child problem. As a single child you aren’t exposed to anything other than what your parents say and why would they challenge you on anything? Words like ‘gay’ ‘you’re sad’, ’boner’. You don’t know what that means? But you find out eventually to other’s entertainment.
During that year my one of my best friends from primary school speaks about me behind my back and then starts shouting out the gay comments along with the others. It really is a follow the crowd situation. I remain silent. This is only the beginning.
I lived in a small village by the beach, it’s a wonderful place. I am blessed to have spent my teenage years there. I had some close friends there who were in my year at school and a year or 2 below and above. I nice mix and outside the normal cliques of the high school environment. I felt safe with them. It’s funny how they disappear while I’m at school though. We would always be up to some mischief around the village, hiding at the ‘den’ in the forest, using laser pens to scare neighbours, have bonfires by the beach. It was fun. One of my close friend’s at the time, we will call him John, lived next door. We could shout to each other from our bedroom windows, use walkie talkies, laser pens as a means of communication during ‘bed time’. I felt truly part of a friendship group outside of school. Of course, outside of school, school is a different world. We were always friends, but he moved onto other things way faster than me. He wanted to go to parties and drink, i wanted to hang out like we always used to. He was moving on and i wasn’t. That is when i thought to myself… ‘why is he moving on? Is there something wrong with me?’. That is when school just got a lot worse. Remember how i said those bus journeys to school were long? Well they just started to feel a lot longer.
The bus to school, I’d get it every morning 7:50am. The bus of hell. One guy just hell bent on making my life shit. He was in my year, luckily only in 1 of my classes which was music… which was fine we just wouldn’t talk and I’d easily avoid him during the day at school. I couldn’t avoid him on the school bus. I’d sit quietly on the side or at the front just to avoid conversation. He’d always some how try to fit in “Ben’s gay!” in the conversation, either during or just as i was leaving the bus. I’d just stay quiet and not say anything. This carried on until he finally left school at the end of 4th year.
It was during this year where I started feeling attracted towards guys. This is where the confusion comes in. People at school must have been onto something. I had this friend during primary and high school he was the year above. We’d have these play fights and all of a sudden I’d feel attracted to it and I’d have to stop. I always thought to myself, i like this… but why? We lived in different villages so we hardly saw each other, we used to be close friends but grew distant as we got older. Being 16 was a struggle, the following years I will touch upon will focus more on home life and trying to be someone I’m not, hiding behind that mask.