Growing Up Gay In Bedford: Part 4
By Anonymous, with Chuck Connell
I am a woman who graduated from Bedford High School a few years ago. I am gay and have been sure of this since I was 14 years old. I am “out” to pretty much anyone who asks, although I am keeping this article anonymous to avoid unneeded publicity for my family.
I first started to be aware I was gay when I was 13. It was weird because I would notice another girl and think, “I’m not supposed to look at her like that.” Initially, I thought it was just a phase. I did not want to consider being gay, because it’s a topic my family and some of my childhood friends looked down on.
During my early years at BHS, many students knew I was gay (or suspected it) but just let it go. My family is well known in Bedford, and that may be why people did not make fun of me or say anything negative to my face. My senior year, I was more… I guess I’d say “obvious” about it. I talked about my girlfriend openly in the halls with some of my friends, and of course other people overheard this and spread rumors. Toward the end of my senior year, I recall one student who always had a bad word for me whenever we passed in the halls. Usually it was “dyke”, but sometimes other phrases that are not printable in this newspaper. Those kinds of comments hurt me every time I hear them. They come from ignorant people saying things to get attention, when, unfortunately, it is at another person’s expense.
I went to an all-girls summer camp for many years, and this contributed to my reputation. People in Bedford figured I went back every summer because it was an all-girl environment. This was not true at all; I just liked the camp. Also, I found no one judged me at camp, because people there know less of who you are in the outside world.
While at BHS, I think I only told one teacher I was a lesbian – my English teacher. She had been my teacher for three years and was always there to help me with anything I wanted to talk about. When I told her, she was shocked, but she continued to treat me well. We discussed the topic a few times. It was hard for me then, because I had not told my family yet. She reassured me it was OK, and said the people who judged me negatively were not worth the hassle. This has always stuck with me. The students who made fun of me and said mean things used to make me so mad. But my teacher was right; they are not worth the emotional distress.
I also witnessed name-calling against male students, for supposedly being gay. I could see how much it hurt them. Some kids were picked on a lot in this way. And the reality is some of these students were not gay. I had a group of female friends who were widely assumed to be lesbians, because they were girls who were good at sports. Some of these girls were gay, but some were not. I find it kind of amusing how people assume if you are a girl and have an athletic built, you must be gay.
My mother is as supportive as she can be. She has never put me down for being gay, but she hopes it is just a stage of my development I will get over. I tell her it is not a passing phase. I understand this is something that takes a while for a family to get used to though, so I can’t hold it against her for wanting me to be straight.
My last word on this topic for Bedford… Don’t judge people until you get to know them. It should not matter whether a girl likes a girl or a guy likes a guy, as long as the people are happy. Why put them down?
The primary author of this article wishes to remain anonymous. Chuck Connell is a consultant and writer in Bedford, MA. This is the fourth and final article in a series about growing up gay in Bedford.
Published in the Bedford Minuteman newspaper on September 29, 2004. Copyright Herald Media Inc.