My name is Myk Browne. I am 17 years old, a high school senior in Napa, California and a resident of Vallejo, California.
As a gay high school student, I am subject to the inobjective criticism of not only my peers, but of society as well. I live in a world of great expectations. Being categorized as popular, intelligent, occasionally witty and, according to some, attractive, I have been raised within the barrorious confines of the arbitrary stereotypes proliferated by the blind, closed-mindedness of society. After 15 times around, having tired of conforming with the demands of my environment, I made the conscious decision to "break the mold": I came out. Having been aware of my sexual orientation for years prior, the outwardly spontaneous declaration of pride came as little more than an internal confirmation of my acceptance of my orientation.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for those on the receiving end of the "surprising news." My parents, being the last to hear, were silent-but-accepting (though my sexual preference has thence never been raised as a topic of conversation). A small number of my close friends were pleasantly apathetic upon hearing the news. The misfortune lies in the reaction of the greater population -- those people who did not know ME, if only for my orientation.
My sophomore year began with verbal abuse spewed carelessly past the blood-stained lips of my inhumane peers. This form of abuse, however, I quickly learned to ignore. But one thing led to another, and the verbal abuse soon turned to physical attacks. Shoves against lockers; pushes from behind; slaps in the face all became routine early my sophomore year. I reported the incidents to the Sophomore Dean on numerous occasion but, being at an obscenely overcrowded public high school, little action was possible and no action was taken.
The climactic beginning of a repetitious chain of events took place one day as I was walking home from school. A car passed me and, whereupon its passengers took view of me, shouts of "Fag!" and "Fucking queer!" painfully filled my ears. I ignored the shouts, eyes filling with tears, and walked on hoping that the assault would remain verbal. However, much to my horror, the car stopped just up ahead. All five of is male passengers approached me on foot, and began to shove me, yelling like animals, and spitting in my face. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my back, and I collapsed to the ground, realizing I had been kicked. I watched as the pavement rushed upwards to meet my face, and lay crying and bleeding as my attackers kicked and punched my crippling body in broad daylight, not three blocks from my house. The attack lasted only a few minutes, and the boys quickly returned to their car and sped up the hill, leaving me shattered in the gutter.
For the remainder of my sophomore year, assaults on either myself or my property were all too common. Verbally and physically I was abused on a daily basis at school. The windows of my house were shot out with pellet guns on two occasions. The windows in my car and both of my parents' cars were shattered. I received threatening phone calls too numerous to count. My friends were threatened. My family was threatened. My life was ruined.
As destructive as these events were, they were not the most damaging to me. This was: Rumors about me were spread around my town. Rumors of my having sexual encounters with young children. Rumors of my molesting boys my own age. Rumors that ruined my "reputation" in a town where I was once a role model. I was a coach for the local Little League. But after these rumors found their way to the ears of the Board of Directors, I received a call from the President. He told me that for my sake, and "for the sake of the League," it would be best if "someone like you did not work for the League." The season prior, I had been named Coach of the Year.
I am two years older now. As I prepare to close this chapter of my life, I stop to reflect on the past two years that have brought me to this emotional state. I am happy now. Happy because I was forced to endure more than my fair share. Happy because due to my refusing to surrender, I am able to now live open and honest without shame. Happy because I am stronger now. I am a complete person, because the two sides of me -- the popular, intelligent, occasionally witty and, according to some, attractive side and the cautious, reserved, fearful, gay side -- now live together, as one person.
I look forward to college. I look forward to new experience, and new people. I look forward to sharing my life's experience with someone new ö--maybe someone in need. I look forward to sharing my strength, and exploring my weaknesses. I understand more now than I did two years ago. I understand a little bit more about society, and a lot more about myself. And just as I do not live in my dark, quiet, uncomfortable closet anymore, I also do not live in fear anymore. I am not afraid to be myself. I am not intimidated by the insecurities of others, which are so often acted out in physical violence.
I am not sure why I started typing this letter. It has something to do with reading Adam Colton's interview, though, I am sure. I have never shared any of this with anyone, except my brother. My parents are not even fully aware of all that I have endured. Certainly none of the physical attacks. Those I have carefully covered up with painful deceit and time away from home. But somehow I feel that it is important for me to share this. Just as Adam came a long way after his experiences in high school, so have I transgressed a great deal. I think that, in this moment of inelloquency, I want to share with the queer youth that may read this that, while high school and adolescence may seem unbearable and emotionally destructive, please do not give up: through perseverance and dedication to yourself you can become whatever and whoever you want.