STANDING at the counter of the student services office, trying to set up an appointment with my guidance counselor, I’m suddenly and rudely interrupted by none other than the most obnoxious, overbearing, flamboyant drama queen in the entire school. Christian Michaelson storms through the door and dashes directly to the counter, slamming a poster-sized photo down in front of Miss Aimsbury… and me, of course. One hand on the photo, holding it firmly in place under his palm, he raises his other hand dramatically to his chest and holds it over his heart.
“I’ll have you know,” he cries dramatically, “I will not be intimidated by this pornography!”
His statement, albeit startling, is quickly forgotten when I look down at the picture and see that Christian is indeed presenting the principal’s secretary with an 11X14 inch glossy photo of an extremely tasteless (and hot), depraved, licentious sexual act. To be specific, it’s a blow job.
Miss Aimsbury gasps and reflexively backs away from the other side of the counter, shielding her eyes as she does so. “Mr. Michaelson!” she shrieks.
“I’ll have you know,” Christian begins again, “this photograph was what greeted me this morning—moments ago, actually—when I opened my locker! You know, the locker to which you assigned me a confidential and top-secret combination. The same combination that nobody other than the staff in this office has access to.
“And I’ll also have you know that in addition to this lovely—” he pauses for a moment, staring at the picture and smiling briefly “—um… this lovely photo, there was also some rather unflattering graffiti. And not very original, I might add.”
“Mr. Michaelson,” she repeats, seeming at a loss for words.
“It’s a hate crime!” he declares. “And I want something to be done about it. Now!”
Flustered, Miss Aimsbury turns completely away and heads for the inner office. “I’ll go get Mr. Daniels,” she says, her voice barely audible.
I look into Christian’s eyes, then back at the photo. He cocks his head slightly to the left as he stares down at the picture and then repositions it on the counter, assessing it. “Looks like a Colt centerfold, wouldn’t ya say? Or is it Inches?”
I frown and shrug my shoulders just as our principal steps up to the counter. Quickly he snatches up the porn and crumples it into a ball.
“That’s evidence!” Christian protests.
Daniels rolls his eyes. “What is the meaning of this, Christian?” he asks. “What is it this time?”
“I want to know when you’re going to do something about this perpetual bullying! It is constant, and I’m being verbally and physically attacked—assaulted and brutalized every single day of my life while you sit idly by and do absolutely nothing!” Dramatically, he reaches up and wipes the back of his hand across his forehead. “I just can’t take it anymore!”
“Christian, when were you attacked? Give me a time and a date. And I need the name or names of your attackers.”
“Why just yesterday,” he squeals, his voice rising yet another octave. “Darren Watson and Troy Cooper repeatedly snapped rubber bands at me in my English Lit class.”
“And did you inform your teacher?”
“I did no such thing, sir!” Chris answers matter-of-factly. “I’m reporting it now to you, the school principal.”
Daniels sighs. “Any witnesses?”
“Sir, I’m giving you proof. You’re holding it in your hands. Look at it! Look at that smut they’ve plastered in my locker. They wrote all over the inside door panel with permanent marker. They called me a ‘FAGGOT’!”
“And you assume that the perpetrators of this act were the same boys who hit you with a rubber band?”
“Rubber bands, sir… plural! Over and over, and they laughed at me. They mocked me and ridiculed me, and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of this relentless abuse, and it must stop!”
Daniels looks at me for a moment, puzzled to see me standing there. “Did you have something to do with this, Stevens?”
I shake my head. “No, sir. I’m just here to schedule an appointment with Mr. Tanner.”
He turns back to Christian. “Mr. Michaelson, this is the third time this week you’ve been in here with a complaint. We’ve investigated these alleged incidents, and frankly there are no witnesses to corroborate your claims. How do I even know that you did not deface your own locker?”
Christian’s mouth drops open as he angrily places his hands on his hips. “And why would I do something like that?” he asks indignantly.
Mr. Daniels stares him directly in the eye. “Oh I don’t know. Perhaps for attention. Perhaps because you’re bored. Maybe because you always have to be creating some kind of drama. Honestly, I’m getting tired of this. I’ve got real issues to deal with, running this school, and I don’t have time for this nonsense. If I see you again in my office, it will be to expel you. Do you understand?”
“Mr. Daniels!” Christian shouts.
“I said, ‘Do you understand?’”
Christian’s face is turning bright red, and I can see the anger and embarrassment sweep over him. “You haven’t heard the last of this, sir,” he states in an obviously threatening tone. “I’ll take it to the media if I have to! I’ll call the ACLU!”
“You go right ahead and do what you feel you’ve got to do, but if you’re back in my office again, you’re out of here. And if you ever bring a disgusting picture like this into my school, I’ll kick you out permanently. Now, good day!” He turns and suddenly storms back into his office.
“The injustice!” Christian cries, and he turns and stomps out the door.
I wait at the counter for a few moments, wondering if Miss Aimsbury will return. Finally I see her peer around the corner from the inside office. When she’s comfortable that the coast is clear, she returns to the counter to validate my pass, and I head off to class.
NOBODY at school knows I’m gay. Well, nobody except my best friend, Trina. I’m not like Christian. I’m not loud and extroverted. I don’t wear all those flashy clothes and walk around swishing and sashaying. I’m not in the drama club, and I’m not a male cheerleader. Most of all, I don’t like being the center of attention.
Even if I did decide to come out at school, I’m positive I would not associate with Christian Michaelson. Personally I think he’s the sort of queer who gives homosexuality a bad reputation. He’s a neon sign, a walking billboard for every over-the-top stereotype that’s ever been ascribed to gay men.
Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me that he gets picked on, because frankly, he asks for it.
I’m in the cafeteria, sitting at a table with Trina, and I tell her about the incident in the student services office. “It was crazy,” I say. “Chris was, like, out of control. He was making these sweeping girly gestures with his hands, lisping all over the place.”
She raises her eyebrows just before stuffing a french fry in her mouth. “Bryan, that’s just Christian. He’s always like that.”
“So you don’t think he’s flamboyant?”
She shrugs. “Sure, of course he’s flamboyant. I just don’t see what’s wrong with that. Personally I think Christian’s a riot. He’s very… Nathan Lane.”
“Oh brother,” I reply, rolling my eyes. “I can’t believe he took that porn picture down to the office and showed it to Miss Aimsbury.”
Trina snorts. “I’d have loved to see the expression on her face.”
“She’s gonna need counseling now,” I say, laughing.
“Dang, I wish Daniels hadn’t thrown it away. I wanna see it.”
“Oh brother,” I sigh. “You want me to buy you a porno mag?”
“Hell no,” I retort. “If I get my hands on any good porn, I’m keeping it for myself.”
“Seriously, you’ve got to admit that was pretty mean for someone to sabotage his locker like that,” she says.
“Well, that’s if he didn’t do it himself. Daniels may be right. I mean, how is someone gonna get a hold of his locker combination?”
“Didn’t you say that Troy Cooper was one of the kids Christian accused?”
I nod in reply.
“Well, Troy’s girlfriend Gina is doing an internship in that office for her vocational tech class. She works there like four or five hours a week.”
“Oh come on,” I say, trying to sound like the voice of reason. “Why would Gina be involved in some conspiracy to torment Christian?”
“People are jerks. Especially homophobic people.”
“Well, I think that’s a stretch,” I admit. “Troy seems pretty cool, and he’s never done anything mean like that to me.”
“Hmm,” she says. “But maybe he would if he knew about you.”
“Treen, come on. Giving gay porn to Christian Michaelson is not exactly mean. It’s like giving candy to a trick-or-treater.”
“Well, I think if someone broke into your locker and posted a graphic sex pic like that, then wrote nasty homophobic names all over the inside, you’d be a little freaked.”
“Yeah, maybe, but ya know what? That’s never gonna happen. People aren’t gonna pick on me like that because I don’t go around broadcasting my private life. I don’t shove my sexuality down other people’s throats.”
She looks at me seriously. “I think you need to be shoving something down someone’s throat, actually. Maybe if you did, you’d appreciate a cocksucker like Christian a little more.”
I don’t know whether to laugh or be offended. I just sit there and eat my cheeseburger.