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I Have a Problem

The music teacher found out that I played piano and asked me to play in front of the class. In a panic, I chose the most masculine piece I could think of -- the Marine's Hymn. Apparently, it wasn't butch enough.
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I have a problem with faggots.

"I look up in the tree. What do I see? I see a faggot trying to pee on me. I pick up a rock. Threw it at his cock." -- Balloon Boy and his siblings rapping in a YouTube video now removed from the site. (10/18/09)

The first time I was called a faggot was in first grade. A stray dog had crawled under our porch and had puppies and I wanted to take my favorite one to school for show and tell. I carried a small black puppy the half mile up our gravel lane to the bus stop, but the driver wouldn't let me on with a dog. Bawling and screaming, I ran back home carrying the puppy with the bus driver and my brother in hot pursuit. Mom met us at the edge of our property, took the dog and sent me back to the bus with the driver. Still crying, I took my seat and the high school jock in front of me turned around and disdainfully said, "Shut up, you stupid little faggot. Boys don't cry." The entire busload of kids laughed at me and showered me with a chorus of "Faggot!"s. It took me three days to find out what it meant.

I didn't touch that puppy again. I insisted we keep the small brown one instead.

I have a problem with faggots.

In fifth grade we did a production of Swiss Family Robinson and I was picked to play the father. I was proud to be chosen for such an important role and practiced every night. During rehearsal one day, I was giving it my all and using hand gestures to dramatically illustrate the character's dialogue. While I earned praise from the teacher, when I took my seat again another boy two rows back whispered "Faggot!" loud enough for the class to hear, but not the teacher. The class twittered and giggled at me.

I couldn't say the words anymore. I would stand on stage, my cue long past, the words frozen by that single, whispered word. Another boy took my place and I was relegated to a non-speaking role. I pretended to be sick on performance night so I wouldn't have to watch him do my part. Me. The faggot.

I have a problem with faggots

"Faggot Kid! You don't know what real marriage is!" -- a teacher at Glen Waverly Secondary College to a student who questioned why the teacher was ripping down posters for a gay rights rally. (10/20/09)

I started piano lessons in elementary school. I was a quick study and became quite advanced for my age. The music teacher found out from my mother that I played piano and asked me to play in front of the class. In a panic, I chose the most masculine piece I could think of - the Marine's Hymn. Apparently, it wasn't butch enough.

Walking to the bus after school, a classmate tripped me and sent me sprawling on the sidewalk. "Faggot," he said as he passed me laying on the ground as the other kids laughed and pointed at my scattered books and seeping tears.

I refused to play again until I was a high school senior even though I won several contests across the state. I made sure it was a love song I could perform with a girl - Somewhere Out There. I even dated her and tried desperately to make it work - to make the square peg fit the round hole - but I couldn't deny what I already knew. They were right; I was a faggot.

I have a problem with faggots.

"This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs 'there is no end to the war between me and faggot' and it's clear." -- homophobic Jamaican singer Buju Banton last week after an unknown assailant released pepper spray during a concert. (10/16/09)

When I was a teenager, my boyfriend and I shared three newspaper delivery routes for the afternoon Gazette. One day he didn't want to do the deliveries and stayed home and I had to deliver almost 200 papers by myself. As I'd finished up the job - proud of myself for handling it all on my own - a Ford LTD went past with a load of other students in it. As they passed someone threw a glass Pepsi bottle at me and screamed "Faggot!" as it shattered on my handlebars, cutting my arm.

I rode home leaving a trail of blood drops and quit the paper route the next day. That night I thought about suicide for the first time. Who'd miss the faggot?

I have a problem with faggots.

"Everyone in the military says 'faggot' and 'homo' every 10 minutes. It's like a synonym for 'buddy.'?" -- Quote from a soldier in an Advocate cover story on gays in the military (November 09 issue)

I stayed at a homeless shelter only once. Three men raped and beat me, calling me "faggot" over and over and over as they shoved my head into a bucket of dirty mop water until I quit struggling. I stared at the pockmarked concrete floor of the utility closet while they took turns fucking me and hitting me with a broom handle until I lost consciousness. Bruised and bleeding, I came to myself and crawled into the hallway where I met one of the attackers walking out of the restroom. "Get on your feet, faggot," he said to me as he hit me across the face.

I spoke to the police. They did nothing. Men can't get raped. Since I was a "faggot," I'd probably begged the attackers to rape me.

That night I attempted suicide.

I have a problem with faggots.

I've forgotten how many times I've been called a faggot; the memories have blurred into one long mesmerizing stream with various incidents standing out more sharply than others. I wish I could forget them all.

I have a problem with faggots.