1976, the teacher begins his first roll call of the year, my full name is announced…Teena Gay Kelley. “Here,” I reply with the proudest of voice I had.
1978, same scenario, my full name is announced…Teena Gay Kelley. A few snickers from other children, a drop of my teacher’s face and a , “here,” I reply with the lowest of whisper in hopes no one would know who said it.
1980, same scenarios except this time, I hear a teacher talking to another teacher, “Can you believe her mother named her that? Poor child.”
1983, same scenarios except…I decided to make a joke of it. “Here it goes everyone, I am the new girl in school and inevitably, one of these teachers will call out my middle name…get ready for it…yep…(pause as if I knew exactly what was about to happen)”
“Teena Gay Drake.” Young, first year teacher of middle school, who could pass for being ‘considered’ to be a Gay Man or one whom everyone in the world, knew his sexual preference. (Which to be honest this still freaks me out that we label people based on their sexuality/preference/private stuff. IDK but does anyone else want to be labeled by how you like to feel pleasure? Okay…I don’t want to make anyone mad so this part will be omitted, maybe).
His faced turned blood-red as the snide remarks and poking fun at me had begun. He peered over his glasses in the most apologetic way. Between fake laughs, I glanced back at him as to say, “I knew it was coming…It is okay.”
I continued this phase of my life throughout my teaching career. I began with my introduction, “Hello! My name is Mrs. Teena Gay Drake, but you may call me Mrs. Drake.”
I would always reinforce how no one wants to be called names. Therefore, your slur usage of the word ‘Gay’ will not be permitted in my classroom, due to the fact of it being my middle name and all. I would allow the students to giggle if they so please, but the precedent was clearly set, this was an equal, kind, loving, nonjudgement classroom and it would stay that way.
As I reflect back to several of my students, I can remember feeling their pain as they would be made fun of because he or she was different. The boys who were considered to be feminine would come to me and say, “Mrs. Drake they say I am Gay? Why? What does that even mean?”
Many of the girls would embrace the label and act similar to myself. They would chime in to poking fun at themselves.
Yes, believe it or not it was only a few years ago that middle schoolers didn’t understand ‘why’ they were labeled. And, yes, many understand what the title means now, but they are unsure of why the heck people, especially adults, are so persistent and hateful about it!
Let’s be honest…if you have a 6th grader you are not sitting around pondering whether he or she is desiring to have sex with anyone, let alone the same-sex.
So the next time you are quick to judge, take time to pause and think…do I really care whether someone is Gay or not? Regardless of the definition.
If they are ‘Gay’ defined as happy or ‘Gay’ defined by sexual preference… Do you really want to know their sexual preference? How does this even directly affect you?
Do you know I was told not to write this because I might offend someone? If I am offending someone then good! I am tired of poking fun at my name because someone said it stands for a label! I am tired of hiding my beliefs because someone else might disagree.
Because resistance or a huge vibration will create change and change is inevitable. Gay by definition is happy & joyful. Gay has become by definition a choice of sexuality. Who provided the world with this label? You…whether you find the term offensive or celebratory you have defined it.
So my answer is clear…”To be Gay, or not to be Gay? I choose Gay! I am taking back my title, my mother gave me the day I smiled laying in my crib, when by the ‘textbook rules’ wasn’t possible.
I was named after my Great Aunt Gay. I was named to be happy and share love.
IDC what other people’s sexual preference is…but I do hope it brings you joy. (But I am still unconcerned, of your choice, as others might want to follow my lead, on this subject).
As we wrap up the month of June which is entitled ‘Pride Month’ whether you are apart of it or not, please remember…it truly does stand for…Celebrating being proud to be Happy, to be free, and to remember “Love will always win!”
YOU ARE LOVED! You are worthy to feel good. You are FREE to be GAY with me!
Instead of tearing people down and allowing misconceptions to blur your vision of the true meaning of the rainbow, attempt to allow love and the illumination of the vibrant colors melting one into the other, to AMAZE YOU!
You will quickly realize how fun and Gay life can be!
Changing the world with one happy, Gay, thought at a time
Educating the world to
Need a little extra help getting over a hurdle? We are offering a new service…So excited! Email: Livelove.firstname.lastname@example.org or Teena.email@example.com
Open to thoughts, comments and happy remarks. Snide remarks are accepted as well, if you feel the need. Although I am not very tough and I will probably cry I will respectfully read all of them and respond if so need be. LOL. No seriously, I do cry sometimes.
God Bless EACH OF YOU! Thank you for reading my thoughts. My greatest wish is for you to find your happy trail. That you will live- like today is your last, love- with every cell in your body, and when the road gets rough you will hold on tight and CARRY ON!
Written by: Teena Drake