On this episode of Gay Mass, I got a call from my friend John – discussing his life in a small town, isolated from other gays, a tarot reading on his love life, and general discussion about the latest in gay news, culture and more.
I kind of know what it’s like to grow up in a small town. Although I am a Dallas native, I spent summers in East Texas at my grandmother’s house (my mom’s mom’s). I loved it there. I loved the small town feel, the fact that everyone knew everyone else and it was tight-knit. Of course, the flip side of that was, it was a small town, and EVERYONE knew EVERYONE and it was so tight-knit that it was sometimes hard to make inroads.
But for a bi-racial, gay kid, in the early and mid-eighties, it was difficult. I remember making friends with this kid once, we met while out on our bikes riding around one summer. I think his name was John? We hung out for about a month and he would always come over to my grandmothers house and we’d play in my room there or do whatever out and about. One day he invited me over to his house and his grandmother, with whom he lived, gave us some beans and bacon. Remember, this was a small country East Texas town, that’s how other people ate although my grandmother made real meals, enough to feed an army. Anyway, I ate it up and left. The next day, around noon, John came over to the house as usual so we could go hang out. But this time, he said he couldn’t play with me anymore. I asked him why. He said, because his grandmother said I was 1/2 nigger. Those were her words of course but he was just parroting what she had said about me. I said ok. Bye. He said, bye. That was it. It was hurtful but I just pushed it down, went to my room and played with my Transformers alone.
Another time, a few years later, after I had made really good friends with my neighbors, we were all kids the same age, we were going to go to Becky’s a block away to swim in her pool. When I got there, Becky came out and said they could all go except for me. I asked why and she said because I was part black. They couldn’t have that in their pool. Everyone knows that right?
All of my friends went on and swam and I went back home alone.
Those are, of course, only a FEW of the negative experiences I had there, but outside of them, I really enjoyed life in a small town. When I would go home after the summer and back to Dallas to go to school, I missed the slow and easy way life moved there and how nice (most) people were. There was a politeness and a gentleness about it that I think everyone should experience.
However, being gay, and bi-racial in a small town is really difficult. I feel for kids today that are a minority or some sort living around a bunch of “majorities”. But I feel that that drive to “get out” of that small town really does light a fire under a lot of us to do something big with our lives and to just long for more than what a small town can offer. Although it has it’s charm, it has far more drawbacks and if you’re a gay kid or racial minority and finding it difficult to live in your small town, know you’re not alone. Just “get through” your teens and as soon as you are 18, get the hell out, and live life as who you were meant to be, not who you are expected to be.