When I first volunteered for a local non-profit, I recall talking about Lawrence, MA to someone whom I had only met there. When I addressed that I felt I had been not been treated well for being openly gay living there, I was vehemently silenced for even asserting my own experience was unpleasant. It appeared entirely unacceptable to actually express what I had felt to them, as though expressing these feelings were somehow shameful, and wrong.
The most interesting about it was that I really wasn’t trying to speak about Lawrence in the first place. I was trying to speak to my experience. It was something, despite others telling me otherwise, I had never asked for. I never wanted to be called this pejorative. It is a pejorative that directly correlates with stereotypical views of gay men (hypersexual, easy, and feminine), but this could also apply to that I am white (see #2 post in response to #1).
I do not shoulder Hispanic or Latinos for what I contended with (I supported Felix G. Arroyo for Mayor of Boston, and his father, Felix D. Arroyo for Suffolk Register of Probate, Ramón Soto for Boston City Council, and Dennis Benzan for re-election to the Cambridge City Council, after all). I do not shoulder the city of Lawrence as somehow responsible for what I had to contend with (look at 1996 for views within the entire country). But it did happen there. It happened there, period. It wasn’t my fault that it did. Never was, and never will be my fault for the actions of others.
Most of this took place at the James F. Hennessy and Alexander B. “Big Bruce” Schools. It was not simply, just the other boys, who said these things to me, but also many of the girls also.
Not everyone from Lawrence, or lives in Lawrence, is a bad person. There were people who did not call me those things. Because I lived in Lawrence, I did deal with serious discrimination outside of Lawrence for living there. I had nothing to do with certain decisions of other people that helped creates the city’s poor reputation, so I haven’t felt in being responsible for trying to change it. I didn’t became a bad apple, so why would I need to be active about it? I lived in Lawrence, and I turned out all right.
Still, it doesn’t change what I had to deal with living there, or anywhere else, at the time.