Being a gay 6th grader sucks.
It was particularly bad for me in Mississippi in 1985. Life sucked at school, it was horrible, every day I was tortured, it was just horrible. “Sissy”, “faggot”, “gaywad”, it never ended, never, ever ended. There was this one kid in particular, his name was Jason too. We’re going to call him Evil Jason. Evil Jason would come and find me every day at recess, and he’d pick me up over his head and he’d body slam me. And then, he’d turn around and sit on me and fart. This is not the life I thought I should be living, it was horrible.
And it got to the point where I sort of checked out at school, at school, and I would go to my momma every day and say, “Momma, please don’t make me go to school.”
And she would say, “Jason, honey, life is hard. And you just gotta grin, gotta bear it, you gotta go through it.”
And I said, “Okay, Momma.”
Well all of this changed one day when my teacher, Ms. McNeice, in the 6th grade, Ms. McNeice, she said, “We’re going to do an oral book report.”
And the oral book report was supposed to be on an autobiography and you got to play a character from the autobiography and give the book report as that character. And I thought this was going to make me a star. This was going to change the whole world for me, I was so, so excited. But I didn’t have a book. And one day my momma took me to a garage sale and I looked across the way, and there was this book. It was red and in fancy letters across the top if it, it said, “Mommie Dearest.” I was so excited. I walked over and I looked at it and I turned it over and it turns out it’s by Christina Crawford who is the daughter of screen legend Joan Crawford. And it was a tell-all about how she was abused and treated horribly and I of course related to this. So I took the book, paid my little 25 cents for it, took it home, read it cover-to-cover, I knew it was the book for me. So I go to my momma and say, “Momma, we gotta go to KMart, we gotta get me a wig.”
And Momma knew about the book report, so she was like, “Jason, honey, don’t you think it would be better if you played a boy character?”
And I said, “Momma, the boy characters in the book, they just suck. Christopher’s just tied up in the bed the whole book. Momma, it’s for school.”
So I get this busted blonde wig from KMart and much to her chagrin, I go into her closet and pull out the high heels, get a little dress, and then I go to school. Ms. McNeice lets me go down the hallway to the bathroom, and she lets me get dressed. So I get dressed, I put my busted curls on, and I look in the mirror. “You are fabulous.” Then I turn around and walk to the door, I put my hand on the door knob and go, “This is the dumbest thing you have ever done in your entire life. What were you thinking?! This is insanity, they’re gonna crucify you, you can’t do this!”
And then I heard in the back of my head, “Jason, honey, this is what we do, life is hard, you just get through it, you just walk through it.” So I said, “Okay, I’m gonna do this.”
And I open the door and I look down the hallway, and you know how like in horror movies when the hallway gets really long when you look down it, that’s how I felt in that moment. Hallway is really long and I start to walk through the hallway, with my high heels clicking. And I think, “I am Christina Crawford. I am Christina Crawford.” And I start getting a little more comfortable with the whole thing. “I am Christina Crawford. I am Christina Crawford.” By the time I got to the door, I was Christina Crawford. I opened that door, I looked at all those people who called me “sissy” and “faggot” and “gaywad” and I said, “I am Christina Crawford and you are very lucky I’m here today because I’m a very busy woman.” And I launched into my book report.
And as I’m doing this book report, I’m telling my story as Christina Crawford, I start to get angrier and angrier because I start to realize this book isn’t about this mother and daughter abuse, this is about me being abused by all these kids. And I get furious and I start to get angrier and angrier and angrier, and Evil Jason is sitting in the front row and I grab his desk and I look at him and I say, “How would you feel if you were me?!” And our little eyes locked for just a few seconds and I really think in those few seconds he saw me for who I was. And he heard me for the first time.
Now I wish I could say life changed, and life was wonderful after that, and it was fairies and roses and unicorns, but it wasn’t. But I walked away from that experience knowing that I was going to be fine. That life was going to be just great.
And, I got an A on my book report.