SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2007        Personal Memory Ethnographies

Wendy Kelly

Violence, She Told Me, Isn’t The Answer

A young boy came by and whispered the word “faggot” in Steve’s ear and ran off.

The anger builds up inside of me and I react by wanting to backhand them.

Steve swung at him with all his might to violently teach him a lesson, tensing up to try to make it a clean and painful blow. I knew that when he tensed up someone or something was about to get hurt by Steve’s own two hands. Every one else thought it was funny that he was “getting his feathers ruffled.”

 I’m African American and I’m gay.  Everyone loves to tease me about it.

It was all a game to them to cause him physical and mental pain. I could feel the intensity of Steve’s muscles as I pulled him from beating the boy. His whole body flailed trying to break away from my grasp. I gripped harder. I was the always the one stopping him.

Wendy keeps stopping anything from happening.

I knew that he wasn’t playing around. He meant to try to injure the boy who made fun of him.

It’s my lifestyle. I’m gay. 

I never agreed with how he lived his life and how he delt with the animosity that was directed towards him but that still never made him less of a person, as my classmates assumed he was.
As I pulled Steve away I could hear him breathe harder as he was determined to “hit the bull’s eye” as he made his way to his opponent.

I hate it when they won’t leave me alone.

His breath became harsher and quicker as he slapped and tried to punch the other boy. Steve’s chest heaved up and down from the intense exercise that he was putting himself through. This meant that there was about to be damage done to someone.

It’s who I’ve chosen to be.

I was afraid to let that happen, and if it were to happen I would feel sorrow for that person who had received the blows.

When the others in the class heard the noise and banging that resulted from the struggle to survive they cheered for more. It meant that they were going to see a great fight. As soon as I turned my back, someone would go and harass Steve.

What Wendy did for me was a lot.

 I would hear a shout from the harasser as Steve was about to inflict his wrath upon him. Even though the harasser brought this on himself, I felt the need to save everyone from the pain that was flying around the room. Shouting, for me, almost always is a call for help. Shouting, for Steve, was a way for him to get everyone to just leave him alone and be quite. It was also a form of victory if the opponent was screaming and shouting, for the rest of the class it was something to laugh at as they watched the beginnings of a fight.

One out of the many times Steve went to settle the matter how he knew best, I didn’t intervene. I thought it should be the teacher’s job, but to my disappointment he never knew what was going on despite all the yelling from the crowd of students.

The teacher saw me this time.

The one time I never stopped him.

But all he did was yell at us. The students.

To “stop it and settle down.”

I went back to my desk and saw Wendy staring at me with a sympathetic and disappointed look on her face.

A couple of years before my friend was being tortured by our classmates, gay couples were getting married. In the year 2001 Dutch gay couples were wed. Quite a few people that had not been so public about being gay/lesbian were now suddenly open about it. Everyone was coming “out of the closet.” Then, a Federal Constitutional Marriage Amendment was introduced in the year 2003 stating that same sex marriages were not allowed.

 I saw my friend Steve later on after my sophomore year in high school and he was still tortured about being gay. He seemed really hurt by it and I was hurting because I wasn’t there to help him anymore. When I was there it was easy enough for me to step up and defend him even though I didn’t agree with his choice of sexual preference. I didn’t think it was necessary for everyone to pick on him because that would drive him further away and that’s not what we should be doing.

Everyone loves to tease me.

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