I’m From Cedar Hill, TX.

by Michael S.

Satellite overhead image of Texas from Google Earth 2022

I’d always believed that art imitated life. I never realized that sometimes, life imitated art. Such was the case one day Sophomore year, when I came to school and saw something familiar on the wall. It was a page from a journal. My journal. It’d been torn out and taped on the wall.

Suddenly, I remembered what I’d just seen on Dawson’s Creek a couple weeks earlier. When Jack’s poem was posted ALL OVER SCHOOL. I’d lost my journal, and thought it was probably under my bed at home, which was fine, because then nobody could see what I wrote in it.

My parents knew already, and were supportive. There’d been rumors for two years, ever since I’d told a friend how I felt about him. But this…this was different. This was…monumental.

Before I knew what was happening, I was finding pages taped up everywhere. And not just the originals. Copies. Scores of copies.

Fast forward a week or so, and I’m in a public speaking class. Class hasn’t started yet and one kid (who I’d never liked, and never liked me) sat atop a desk next to a friend of mine, and started reading from a paper. I recognized it immediately as a letter I’d written to a boy. With nothing but instinct burning inside me, I snatched the paper out of his hand and ripped it to pieces, stuffing the pieces in my pocket. The kid acted as if it was an atrocity, as if I’d taken something from him. I proceeded to do the only thing I could think of. I flipped over the chair he was sitting on, sending his very short self to the floor, with the desk falling on top of him. The teacher heard the ruckus, and demanded to know what was going on. I simply sat down, looked the kid in the eye, and said, “he fell.” He didn’t bother to correct me.

Some time later, I was called to the principal’s office because the two boys I’d written letters to (who just HAPPENED to be be MORMON brothers!) had complained. The vice-principal made some comments about disrupting the “learning environment,” and asked why I’d done it. I was dumbstruck.

“Why don’t you ask the people who stole my journal and copied it and posted it all over the school?”

She asked if I’d “lost” the journal on purpose. I told her I had not. She didn’t believe me, and asked if I’d ever served a Saturday detention. I told her yes, but she couldn’t give me one for losing a journal. She said she could.

I told her I didn’t think it was fair, and she asked which parent I’d like her to call.

Now, normally, being a HUGE mama’s boy, I’d have her call mother. But mother was out of town on business, so I had her call dad. Dad, who, as a typical dad, is gruff, strict, and doesn’t take bullshit. Or lip. (Texas boys, you know what I mean!)

Dad was at work. Where? Oh, nowhere special, just one of the top ten newspapers in the country. See, Dad was an editor at a paper which the President (and millions of other people) read every morning (among others, of course). And as soon as Vice-Principal mentioned detention, he asked for her name. I even heard her spell it over the phone to him, then ask him why he needed the spelling. His response? I could hear him over the phone.

“I want to get the spelling correct for when I write this story for tomorrow’s edition. Now, is that Principal, or Vice-Principal?”

Her face went white. Which was serious, I think, considering she was not. She muttered something, he muttered back, and she hung up the phone, and sent me back to class. An hour later, I got another summons. I returned, and she said there would be no detention, and that I should just try to keep an eye on my possessions from now on.

I smiled, thanked God for my dad, and went back to class.

I can’t begin to recount everything that’s ever happened to me based around my sexuality, because there’s a lot. I’m a very opinionated, very vocal person, and I guess I got this from my dad, but…I don’t tolerate bullshit either.

My parents surprised me, and continue to surprise me, by their support and their UNDYING love. I once asked my mom how she could love me and my brothers so much. She told me as simply as she could. “It’s called unconditional for a reason. THERE ARE NO CONDITIONS. PERIOD.”

In college, I became an activist of sorts, joined some groups, marched in some parades, and learned more about the history of my community, and more about myself, than I could ever have learned in school or from a book. Life is all about how you react to it.

I firmly believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and believe me, I am the strongest today that I’ve EVER been.

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