On the playground we are taught, as evolutionary survival, that it is important to be like everyone else, to find acceptance into the group dynamic. From pre-historic to ancient-times, and beyond, avoiding being ostracized meant avoiding death. This evolutionary hold-over is what pushes queer youth to hide our authenticity from others, keeping our interests, past-times, and loves from friends and families. Doing so stagnates the formation of a queer identity, rooted in beliefs, attitudes, and values.
I grew up in a suburbia that wasn’t ticky-tacky little boxes, but a nostalgic Mayberry: students walked to school, left campus to eat lunch in the village, and formed cliques based upon clothing labels; there was a dairy to buy milk fresh from the cow and boutiques that were hobbies for doctor wives. The school district heavily focused on academic success and rigor, not grit or character; children were taught to be students and not to interact with educators. We were academically prepared but street smarts were not taught between Great Expectations and chemistry. The few gay boys that were known easily fit the mainstream suburbia of backyard pools, in ways I never could. I sabotaged acceptance by defensively rejecting the labels and tokenism they appeared to willingly accept. I deliberately kept to myself, denying myself a confidante, by refusing anyone I could divulge to because I was scared that if anyone knew my real fears, secrets, and thoughts, they’d not like me. I was different and I knew it, but didn’t wish to be separated from the herd. By exaggerating what didn’t fit homogeneity I created a smokescreen of descriptors against isolation, hoping no one would the gay. I allowed peers to silence my identity and interests – a little for all but not everything to one; and no one to me.