I’m From Dubuque, IA.

by sarah a.

There’s something you should know about me: I’m a liar.

Don’t judge me. Because if the first thing you should know about me is that I’m a liar, the second is that I’m a teacher, and the third that I’m a lesbian.

I teach at a middle school, and most of the girls are in their boy crazy stage. “Chris Brown is so cute!” they say, and I lie and say sure he is. And when a student comes to me in tears over the death of a sibling in a gang fight, he asks me if life is going to get better, and I lie and say, yes it definitely is. Students ask if going to college will guarantee them a good job and a better life, and I lie and say, of course it will. “When are you getting married?” they ask me, and instead of saying, “when it’s legal” I lie and laugh and say I’m too busy caring about them. “I saw you at the movies with your friend, Ms. A” they say, and I lie and don’t correct them.

“Where do you go to church?” the other teachers ask me, and I lie and say I’m looking for one. “Was that your boyfriend at the concert?” they prod, and I lie by not telling them that “he” is a “she.” “I’m so glad we don’t have any of them homos in this school. They’re gonna ruin this country” they say over lunch in the teachers lounge, and in fear for my job I lie by staying silent and walking out of the room.

“Too busy to date then, are you?” my father asks me on his way out to the garage, and I lie and say that I’m focused on work. “Just hasn’t found the right man yet,” my mother says while she puts dinner on the table and I lie and say he’s out there somewhere. “How long has it been since you were in a relationship?” my sister asks me when we take my nephew to the park, and I lie and say senior year in college. “That friend of yours seems like a nice girl” my aunt comments on an email, and I lie by not telling her that the nice girl and I are having amazing sex.

“I’m getting married!” my friend says, and I lie by not telling her I think she is making a huge mistake. “We really need to get together, it’s been too long. I’ll call you soon.” An old friend says, and I lie by not pointing out that, no she probably won’t. “Don’t you miss those good old times?” a guy I knew in high school asks over Facebook, and I lie and simply agree.

I go out clubbing and dance with cute girls. And sometimes we talk, or grope or kiss, and when they ask me to call them, I lie and say that I will. I cuddle in bed with my girlfriend and she talks about the future and a beach wedding and kids and she asks me if I’m scared, and I lie and say that I’m not. And then when it inevitably ends and we go our separate ways, she says we’ll stay friends, and I lie and play along. And when my friends come over with Ben and Jerry’s to tend to my broken heart, I lie and say that I’m not heartbroken, that it’s no big deal, that I’m not discouraged. When my married friends say that the right person is out there somewhere, I lie and say that I’m sure that she is.

But then when I’ve left my classroom, and walked out of my school building, when the rest of my family is 3 rooms away and my friends, gay and straight, have all gone home, my brother comes over, or calls or IMs, and after saying hello, he asks, “So how was your date with that girl from the thing?” and I tell him that it was great, or crap, funny or lame or whatever it actually was, because–and this is what keeps me going–I don’t have to lie to him.


  1. How great to have someone you never have to lie to.

    And I think we’re all liars sometimes. Not because we’re bad people, but because we feel like we need to. Fortunately, things are getting better and the need to lie is becoming less and less.

    Great story.

  2. Sarah,

    I’ve read a lot of stories on this site. Your story is one of the best yet. Your writing is beautiful and your story is heartbreaking. It’s crazy how many lies we all tell, and I hope that you find you’re able to tell less of them as the months go by.

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m going to hit ‘submit’ on this comment, and read your story again. And again. And again.

  3. WOW!!! What an amazing piece, by far the best I’ve read here. I’m so glad you at least have your brother to talk with; I hope one day you and I both won’t have to lie to anyone.

  4. That was excellent. Definitely one of the best written and most poignant. I hope, someday soon, you’ll get to decide if you want to keep lying because it’s easier rather than feeling like it’s necessary.

  5. For a while now, I’ve been thinking about coming out to my brother. Just now, I was having a particularly intense argument with myself about it, when I decided to see the new story of the day. And there was yours. It really made me realize what I should do.

    Your story is fantastic. And so real.

    Thank you.

  6. Yet another reminder of the many ways in which, to protect ourselves and keep our identities a secret from those who would do us harm or wish us ill, we must lie and deceive those we love or who we trust/should trust us. I don’t know if I’ve ever read it in so many words before, but the daily routine of hiding ourselves from others can be quite a struggle and a challenge.

    A very perceptive and honestly written story. I’d love to hear and see more :-)

  7. Oh, wow, hard-hitting. First thing i’ve read on this site, i’m now looking forward to everything else!

  8. Amazing story. You have a gift, my dear. Fly to Austin and eat Ben and Jerry’s with me. No lying necessary.

  9. Hello,

    I just wanted to let you know that even if you are a liar, you are still a beautiful person. I love you.

    There will be a day were in all these lies will no longer exist. Where we won’t need to lie because all will be okay and no more difficult questions will be asked.

    It may not be in our lifetime, but it will come.


  10. I wouldn’t call all of these lies, like not telling your aunt about your sexual is just being normal.and you’re not telling her that your having bad sex you’re just not talking about it. There’s a difference between not saying anything and lying. That said there’s times when silence infers agreement and complacency. That is a problem although its not a lie. What you’re doing is wrong! Don’t avoid telling your coworkers about your romantic orientation when it comes up. And if you don’t agree that “homos are ruining the country” then say so. People don’t always need to hear what they want. They need to hear what they need to hear, which is that people like you and me are quite normal and healthy and that being gay is not very much different than any other aspect of someones life… and that’s because it is only one facet of it. Stand your ground because you’re right! I believe also that by sharing your preference with the children if they ask isn’t wrong. If it’s okay for a teacher to say when shes ready to marry a man then it’s equally acceptable to say when you’re marrying a woman. Children also benefit when you expand their tolerances. I think a large part of the hardship for homosexuals coming of age is that they haven’t been told that its okay to be gay and so when they realize they are that way by fate or nature or god (whichever you believe) then its harder and unnecessarily difficult for them when they have no role-models because we’ve been silenced and we’ve hidden ourselves from them.
    Anyway I don’t mean to rant. But please you’ll be doing the world a favor by showing it how natural and normal gay love can be. A large part of the close-minded bigotry comes from the ‘mystery’ surrounding gay relationships. You can do your part by not hiding and not letting yourself be victim of that kind of silence. It will only make things harder for you. I know from personal experience. And it seems you’ll be a lot happier and stop blaming yourself. I think you’ll be surprised by how accepting people turn out to be. Good luck,

  11. I too am a teacher in Dubuque, IA. My gay brother-in-law passed this along to me. I see how hard it is to not be completely honest with your students and colleagues each day. But there are many gay teachers and principals in Dubuque. I work with at least two gay colleagues. It’s not something we talk about… but it is known. I can kinda relate to your angst, when I first started teaching at a catholic school I was a single mom who was never married. I would talk about my child and my students would ask, “How do you have a child if your not married?” I answered as honestly as I felt I could by saying, “Not all families are the same.” After answering I would feel a little bit of worry that maybe they would tell their parents and the principal, but it never happened. Maybe you should try elementary education… I think the staff is more accepting. Hopefully someday you will be able to say the truth.


  12. Wow! I thought I’d read every story on this site, but somehow I missed this one. I’m very, very glad I stumbled upon it — this is a fantastic story.

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