Educating Gays

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[00:00:00] I often feel [00:00:03] lifted out of things, not somebody because I don't have to, I don't get the chance to express myself properly. I don't feel when I'm in class, that I can be myself constantly thinking more constantly checking myself, to make sure I don't spill the beans. [00:00:28] Being a queer educator is like walking a tightrope all the time, because you have to manage other people's insecurities about sexuality. And it might be insecurities about the own sexuality or insecurities about the relationships and interactions with you, as a queer educator. And so you are always running a sort of made a cognitive type, discourse, and you'll heed to manage every situation, that sort of thing. came out very strongly with the young men that I interviewed, and my thesis is that from the time that they were 13, or 14, even younger, for some of them between 10 and 12, they realized that their sexuality was transgressing some idea of normal, and that they were on the wrong side of it, not that idea of normal. And they developed these these ways of managing through talking it through in their own heads. And that was all the private knowledge, they keep all of it to themselves. And keeping that sort of knowledge private. And splitting it to a public persona that isn't connected to it is emotionally [00:01:43] devastating, [00:01:44] I guess. [00:01:46] Here in our station, I tried to kill myself. [00:01:55] Like I've noticed from Windows Live in 12 years old, one day, cried and cried and cried for hours as this as I see [00:02:10] it, I guess it was because I remember, [00:02:14] it was because there's a scar that I live in, I had a crush on. And I was so sad, I couldn't say any tell anyone, anything, which was really good, and you know, station. And I actually knew that I was gay, and actually, was really depressed and tried to kill myself. [00:02:53] I'd like to think that I'll identify myself as a teacher who happens to be gay, just like a teacher happens to be married, or teacher who happens to be heterosexual and single. So yeah, I definitely would like to think that I will be a good role model for gay people. Because I certainly wish that I'd had one occasion when I was at school that was out. And that I could relate to, that would have been really beneficial to me. So I will definitely make every opportunity to, to, to sort of be out in a positive way, and the school differently, because it's just so important that that people out, particularly when you're dealing with young people, so I've got some decent role models to look up to. [00:03:42] I trained as a secondary school teacher at Christ Church and 1984. And I was about 21, I think, yeah, 21 at the time. And then started here, Tom College in 1985, which was the biggest of the heated debate and the law reform. [00:04:05] And I didn't come out to my students. [00:04:09] At first I am [00:04:13] I ended up being on the front cover of pink triangle for a massage seen two fold. And the pink triangle magazine itself happened to be exhibited at that willing to trade fear. And it was one of those trades fees where everybody who visited had to go past every single store. And the second point was at that trade fair, there was a huge argument because the gay community got to stand there that it had misrepresented itself to give and not told the organizers that they were a gay stand, and we never arrived. And they seated out there was a huge outcry to try and get it taken down. And I remember turning around in the my school holidays and looking at today tonight, and the debate was being interviewed on me and my face, on the magazine flesh on national TV, or regional TV, I guess it wasn't it stays, I can remember dropping the dinner plate and thinking, Oh, god, this is going to have major implications for me when I go back to school. And of course it did. And what's what's now I can look back quite fondly on but at the time was really rather traumatic. And the students reacted in very different ways. [00:05:30] The students, which I taught, [00:05:32] didn't really seem to have a problem my sex wanted, they didn't talk to me for three weeks, which make teaching very difficult. But they eventually sort of came around and [00:05:42] and we got on at the younger forms. [00:05:46] just used it as a way of being able to abuse me and challenge the discipline in the classroom and around the grounds. And I could manage some form of control in my classroom, but I had to sort of put up with daily abuse from students, which I didn't teach from around the grounds, calling out fake at home, Oh, don't bend over. Now he comes to town type stuff. And it was very difficult because you feel very isolated in your school and you as a teacher, and you often don't feel that you can utilize the channels of discipline that might operate within a school, because nobody in a leadership position is even thought up and said, the sort of behavior is not okay. No, it's not okay to abuse somebody because of the sexuality. And so you tend to try and ride it, I tried to deal with it on my own. And that's probably wasn't the most, or the best way of managing it, you know, I pretended that everything was fine. And my classroom and around the grounds and so forth. And that sort of raised another issue. I also thought that by coming out in the school that suddenly there'd be lots of young gay male students come running up to me for support and help and, you know, I could do the positive day role model thing. And [00:07:07] from a distance, maybe I achieved it. [00:07:12] But I don't know who those guys students were, it was neither safe enough for them to approach me. And if they were saying with me, there was guilt by association, and then they were at risk in the school environment themselves. [00:07:23] The most difficult thing about being at school is hiding it, it's just, it can be really tough sometimes. And you also encounter a lot of homophobia. And people not using the word faggot, or queer or gay, and not really thinking about using the term. And you can't say, don't say that it's not sort of PC to say that sort of thing. Because you, you, yourself, and your, and people will mock you, and it's not nice being mocked. [00:07:57] I think, I think the biggest issue is that gay people education is, is having a voice and being included in an everyday discussion and activities. So when when teachers are teaching subjects, particularly like say, in the health area, where they're talking about relationships and marriage and, and six that they include gay people as well, instead of being a boy girl thing the whole time. Like in history lessons, if they, if they mentioned famous people in history that were gay, just as they mentioned, famous people in history that were straight, or, you know, which comes about when they are that they were married, or whatever. So I think, including, including the valuable and interesting history we have on gay people, and just making the curriculum far more inclusive of gay people, as they are making it inclusive for people of other cultural backgrounds. [00:08:58] There are plenty of support groups, and in Wellington, there are heaps. And I'm the only student to wearing to college, who goes to any of the support groups, the only student and a score of 1250 students. [00:09:15] You can't tell me [00:09:17] that [00:09:19] one out of every 1250 people, this guy that's there are more than that my school. But we don't, they don't, they don't put up any posters. They don't offer any support. They don't talk about it. And, and the classes that they came today we have a health and for form, and homosexuality was not mentioned once by any teacher. And that entire year, or was a third of the year. The rest of the year we do craftwork, but the entire time the teacher didn't mentioned being at all and its fourth home, and people are at this age are drinking, they are having sinks, and they're struggling with his sexuality and gay students need to, to be able to reach out and be normal. Because [00:10:25] a few, a few different. [00:10:29] You do shy away from things. [00:10:32] And if you can't get an acceptance, and if you don't have other people who are like you around you, it's very difficult. And it makes you more economical. I think. [00:10:46] Some people must go through college. [00:10:50] And we'll go through secondary school. And that will struggle with the identity because they can't they don't know anyone else who was like them. The only images I see on TV, and some of them quite frankly, are not very accurate. I'm not okay. I mean prance around and dresses like they're doing Priscilla, Queen of it, is it? [00:11:13] Not okay mean? I like that. [00:11:18] Well, as I saw, so myself at school, and also now as a stereotype breaker, whereas most people think that Well, a lot of people think that, okay, okay, guys are all feminine carry handbags, dresses, girls clothing, and so on. And, like, out of scope, be a part of it. And if you will just see. I'm he look, he's gay, but he's not feminine. And that just means a lot to me, because I don't. I knew I wasn't feminine. I don't want people thinking that I was. And lots of ways I think it's more [00:11:55] difficult. How ironic, you know, we've got everybody to Yes, we've got all that you ever asked for. You've got the message law reform, you've got equal rights under the human rights legislation. And here I am saying Well, actually, I think it's actually more difficult. One is because you're talking about young males who are saying lots of images of gay and lesbian people with transsexuals on TV as me as the hero provide the Sydney Mardi Gras, something like 57 American sitcoms that have all got gay characters in them. So they are able to see who they are at a much younger age than I could and mastered and when I was growing up. And they also can see all of those possibilities. But at the same time, these lyst lovely acceptance out there on the media screen and did it. Everybody's using the word faggot and the school ground, everybody's beating up on everybody else, because there's nobody sitting them down and talk to them about homosexuality, in terms of its social, its political implications, its context, its identity issues. And so they are still carrying it with them. But there's this enormous pressure that they need to identify who they are. And so you've got young gay males, knowing at 10 and 11, and 12. That guy, which is the difference, I think from when I was going through school, you could delay it really easily until you're 18 or 19. Or more easily, perhaps it's false to probably compare the experiences, but it's very different coming out in the 90s. And, and whereas people might think it's easier, there's more support. If I was still growing up in Masterton and 90s, there's no change. It's no different from when I was there. And I think I mean, that's represented and the fact that schools do not still broach these issues when when homosexuality is talked about in schools that so often talked about a within the sexual health curriculum. And within the within HIV AIDS education, or STDs, and RU and his homosexuality. You know, in the interviews with young men that I did, they spoke very strongly about the fact that they leave school thinking that they were going to die of AIDS, that was that was the only future that they had, and they express that very strongly. And so we need sexuality within the curriculum to come out of that context and needs to be dealt with the two because there are issues about safe sex, but issues of sexual identity and not about sexual behavior, you know, and we need to start talking about those sorts of things. We don't [00:14:41] talk about much really, in classwork, it's not sort of talked about at all, the only subject that it has talked about and as Classical Studies and that's simply because Romans and Greeks were brave and bisexual that they slept with whoever they want wanted to. And, and they did have a culture of of sleeping with people at the same sex and they were they were just liberated they didn't have any of this we taught that they don't have any of the the Christian preaching the the whole thing that six as a sacred act and must be for procreation and that six are sinful and with its discussed in class we don't [00:15:39] that that wasn't was a non issue for them. It's [00:15:44] an eyesore of a great at I think it's become too much of an issue in Western society. I mean, there is great gay people and they were their hero sexual people and they were bisexual people and their transgender people. And they were there were all sorts of people so get over it, it's they're just people, they're no different to you, they just have different feelings and emotions thing [00:16:11] guy and being at Teachers College I think is a real advantage because I've had so much experience of being an unrecognized hated minority group and having to deal with having to deal with it. So I guess I'm, I'm quite a human rights activist now I guess, in terms of just being aware of what other people are facing and and being totally inclusive for everybody. Not making assumptions about anybody's background identity or beliefs, values, or experiences and trying to treat everybody as equal and trying to help with you know, building self esteem from everybody from all walks of life and making them realize that their experiences whatever they are just as valid as anybody else's. So being gay differently gives me a big insight into into seeing all those things which I think if you're not gay or not from another cultural background having to fit into some other sort of lifestyle or way of life then navigate to face that so it gives you an interesting outlook [00:17:24] Okay, we'll pick winners and six home was it was a young was the youngest and my phone for quite a quite a few months. [00:17:38] I [00:17:41] was getting hassles in class and not about being gay but just hassles in general. So I went to the guidance counselor and really really depressed in it and to talk to the guidance counselor I've been to a freestyle through all through the summer or just co author of the school holidays or just slipped slipped out two or three in the afternoon every day Don't you just just to Paris in general right through the through the holidays in at school I just really depressed I was getting his website counselor in total and taught me a lot of time that ended up telling me you know, wasn't completely straight like I thought I'm gonna throw like girls girls boys at first because I was easier to say that then just say on I'm gay and he got in contact with the gay switchboard and I ended up going to ice breakers it all happen really quickly actually was what Thursday and in the Friday I was I was it ice breakers that was about young for for that they made an exception which was really good right know what I would have done if I had him [00:19:07] when I when I told my my friend without [00:19:11] me being sort of hundred hundred to 200 about it before I told him completely and then I've [00:19:22] actually taught him an English class one night [00:19:29] and he he was okay with it. And then he had a non non talks about it and it [00:19:35] was called [00:19:39] him my other friends I [00:19:42] told told about it so that they wanted hear rumors. Okay, I found it was better for me to tell them directly then for them to hear a rumor in the interim and asked me my friends talk about Well yes, my friends problems here. [00:20:02] When I told my mom that all sky [00:20:05] I mean, sort of went into a room and sat down we had a talk. I've got something to tell you. And not I told her that there was going in she just didn't say anything. Which I found really, really scary. And [00:20:26] then [00:20:28] I actually started crying because like she said no reaction or anything didn't say anything. And the solenoids for Monday night just just lift lift home for the day in camp came back later on the night. She sit down with me COO lips there are all older 19 floaters eight seasons, and I want to end and I don't want to live like this and [00:20:59] all that sort rubbish. And [00:21:02] yes, I still think Thanks, Mom. This is me you're talking about. And since then, she's got she's had for four years to get used to it. [00:21:15] Which is pretty cool. [00:21:18] actually ended up to to the hero parade last last weekend in Sydney, the day before I went up, I have a good time up there, which I thought was really cool. It's very unusual for women, to say something like that. [00:21:39] I have no idea how we're going to handle gay students. [00:21:43] When I when I go into schools, I probably be very nervous. And it will just just be quite scary to begin with. Because I'm quite aware of, you know, if I'm sort of out there as a as a gay role model, then it's quite likely that I'll have students come up to me and say, sound like I'm getting I don't know what to do when I'm gay and whatever, whatever. So I guess I realized I have to be very careful about what you do. Like we've been given instructions that when the raven were to be in a classroom alone with one other student. Yeah, we have to as teachers, we have to be very, very careful about your personal dealings with students. So it will be quite tricky balance to act, but not at all. I'll learn as I go and, and hopefully, hopefully, it will work good. [00:22:41] I think there's an advantage to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered students to see out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender teachers. And it took me a while to realize that even though gay students, gay male students didn't approach me while I was teaching lies out, they knew I was the and knowing somebody is the and knowing somebody is bouncing around being relatively cheerful and happy and being I hate using the word normal, but as a really, really positive fit that shows that you can live into adulthood. And one of the big issues in New Zealand is youth suicide. And for many gay, young gay men, they can't see that they can live and dead often be happy. And so for some for kids to see that in school was really powerful and positive. It also sort of raises [00:23:37] issues, I guess, [00:23:40] about [00:23:43] the idea of normalization, what so many gay and lesbian teachers do is appear to be as normal as possible. And I have a problem with it in some ways, because I think that the idea of normal and the lack of our school ability to manage difference of any sort is as crucial here. And so like, I could get away being a gay teacher, because, you know, I wore trousers. I dyed my hair occasionally. And I had my ups but I wasn't IVF the camp or a feminist and all that. And so there's still with the gay stuff that's coming out now total problem with [00:24:31] overt [00:24:34] or with the stuff that confounds Jean de [00:24:38] have been [00:24:39] corresponding with a young boy from the South Island who had real transgender issues. And he was basically almost killed by his peer group. He was physically pushed down in front of traffic and down cities. Because he wants to transgender. Now he's 14, he was 14, when he was first hearing those feelings. He ended up being homeschooled through secondary schooling. And those transgender feelings are still with him. My question is, why do we have to make? Why are our schools not able to make myself safe for students? Like that was to you know, why can those differences not be tolerated? [00:25:33] I definitely think I will end up going out of my way to actively tonight, pages. It's almost an addiction I have I guess, I just can't help myself. Every time I see some anti gay leader and letters to the editor, I'll be writing in a reply. And I think it'll be a wonderful opportunity to, to to promote inclusiveness and a better understanding of gay people. Because we, you know, we're still fighting about and the more people that fight the battle, you know, the more we can achieve, and I think education and young people is a good place to start, particularly from my experience, working with gay people through icebreakers, as it's those people that need help the most, and they're not actually getting it, because they are the ones that face the suicidal thoughts, and the depression and all these other issues when they're already going through 1,000,001 changes through adolescence. So to me, they're the most critical people to educate, particularly the young people who have same sex feelings, because they are the they are the people in need, as I see it.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.