The Swallow

The Swallow

A gay boy’s flight of fear:

Knowing you’re a second class citizen isn’t the best feeling in the world, living everyday life knowing that most people around consider you disgusting, sinful, or just the complete scum of the universe. Every day you hear insults, things people don’t really have a second thought about saying. You hear teachers, friends, peers, siblings, and ever parents saying things that just rip your heart out. You can’t do anything to stop it either, after all, who would listen to someone like myself? This is something I will experience for the rest of my life.

Growing up, I never knew I was different. I thought I was just a normal kid created by a loving hand the loving hand of a loving caring creator, in the city of Kimberley, that would grow up to do something great, at least, those were my ambitions. It was not until sixth grade when I began to notice that I was different. During sexual education, the topic of sexuality was brought up. The teacher went into a discussion of the “normal” sexual habits of people. A man would be with a woman, and that was final. A man being in a relationship with another man, or a woman with a woman would result in, “horrible consequences from God.” I found this concept hard to grasp in my mind, I kept asking myself, “Isn’t God supposed to love everyone?” “Why do I feel closer to guys than I do girls?” I was in fear that I was going to burn in eternal hell fire.

It wasn’t until the next year, in seventh grade, that I realised that the feelings I had would make me homosexual by the definition of the word. I still thought that it wasn’t a big deal; how foolish I was then. At that time I had two very close friends, I never really was the popular kid. I told them both at the same time that I was gay, thinking that no one would really care, but I thought they should know. Their reactions were not what I had anticipation. Donald, who was two years older than I was, stood up and spat in my face. Mary just screamed, “Eeew!” and stormed off. Their reactions left me confused and betrayed. This was the first time I truly felt ashamed to be me, to be who I am.

Later on, throughout the year, I found out that Donald and Mary had begun to tell the school about my homosexuality. As I would walk down the hall, people would stare at me with the look of being repulsed by my presence. People would try to trip me as I walked by, would run into me intentionally, and scream things such as “Fag!” or “Queer”,” Moffie” at me. One day I was walking home and three kids pulled me aside. They pushed me, saying, “Why don’t you fight back, faggot?” I am not much of a fighter, so I just listened in pure shock, horror and pain. Those three kids then began to get more aggressive, one punching me in the stomach. The others pounding their fists brutally into my head, chest, and arms. I do not remember much after that, however afterwards I went home, cleaned myself up, and went to sleep and dreamt I was a swallow migrating to a land of acceptance. A swallow all alone on a long journey to who knows where. This happened multiple times, too many to actually keep count.

As the year’s progress, things got worse. The beatings got worse as well as the harassment. I was so ashamed of what was happening at school that I would steal money from my mum to buy cover-up at the CVS we lived near to cover the bruises. One kid decided to take a knife to my arm, although not cutting very deep, it still left a scar. Later that same week, on a Sunday in May, I was at the playground near my apartment. I saw a lot of smoke coming from a nearby building, it looked like someone was grilling so I didn’t really pay attention. Very soon afterwards I heard my mum scream from outside, “Steve!” I ran home to see smoke coming out of the window in the room that my brother and I shared. At first, I was scared, seeing smoke pouring out of your bedroom window isn’t the most calming experience. However, the thought came into my head that I would be moving afterwards. I didn’t know exactly where, but I knew I would be moving like the swallow in my dreams I was going to migrate, so I smiled. I felt as if I was finally able to be happy, I was leaving that horrid school. I would gladly trade all my belongings to get out of there, and that’s what happened. Free, free, free on the wings of the swallow, free, free at last.

After that, I finished my year of school, knowing I was never going back was a great feeling at the end of the year. During that Summer I moved from Barclay to Kimberley, happy that now people would not know who I was. However, I was afraid. I was so afraid to step foot in the school as I was thinking, “What if one of the people I meet at this school finds out who I am? Will all that I just left repeat itself? Will someone finally just kill me?” Would there be another Donald? I was so afraid to start school I grew physically sick. Eventually, the school did start, and no one suspected anything. I began to make friends, and I after a few months, I found out that they were accepting as far as I could tell of who I was.

In November I told them that I was gay, none of them cared. However, in December, I found out that one of them was going to tell people after an argument we got into. I was so afraid that I threatened them over  Instant Messenger. They called the cops, I reluctantly admitted it out of pure fear, and within a week I had been expelled from that school on December 15th to April and had to attend a night school program at the high school that they had in place for people who were expelled or those who were different.

Ironically enough, as I came back, people didn’t know what had happened to me. The only people who knew were the person I threatened and their friends. After that year, in 9th grade, I began to befriend the person I had threatened again. To this day we are still close friends, as he understood the fear that I felt from the slightest possibility of what happened to me repeating itself. I still kept it a complete secret from everyone, though.

In 2008 is when I began to become even more depressed. Thoughts of suicide grew more common in my head as the days went on. I couldn’t deal with the hatred that constantly surrounded me. I eventually got to the point where I had planned out how to do it and when to do it. Then, someone, I found out about completely changed my thought process. Although it sounds strange, most people do not understand why it changed my life for the better. As I grew more suicidal I found out about a soon to be the Pop sensation, Lady Gaga. Although her songs may seem superficial to the non-listening ear of critics, they thought me to respect myself, to never let other people convince me that I was a lesser person. For the first time in my life, I actually felt as if I belonged somewhere. Over time I became more accepting of myself, and I cared less and less what other people thought.

Over the 9th and 10th grade, I came out to everyone. People who cared in the slightest about who I was being completely ignored. My friendships with people grew stronger, and I became more optimistic in general. Although still remaining so afraid of new people and situations that I get physically sick, I have grown to accept who I am, and believe that I am not a second class citizen, disgusting, or any of what many people do think. Moving from Kimberley to Cape Town was one of the hardest things I had to do. Leaving all the friends I loved to meet possibly worse people was not a very high thing on my priority list. Luckily for me, people in Cape Town were just as accepting. I have the best friends I could ask for, and even though I still deal with hateful comments multiple times a day, I couldn’t be a more proud or happy person, and I am now dedicated to making the world a better place for people like myself.

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