By Jaclyn Jermyn
I took your class, Gay and Lesbian Studies in the spring of 2014. It was my second semester of college and by week three, I was was in over my head. It’s not that the subject matter ever confused me; you were clear and concise and I felt my heart hurt more each week that I showed up 5 or 10 minutes late to your lectures. I felt guilty. That’s never the kind of student that I was. That’s never the kind of person that I was.
What you didn’t know, actually what I didn’t know, was that I was being abused.
I was never a morning person and arguably it was sort of my fault for choosing a Monday morning, 9am class. I remember those mornings. It wasn’t that I was oversleeping all the time. It was that I wasn’t sleeping at all.
When there’s someone that you think is looking out for you and they tell you that it’s better for you to stay home, you stay home—for weeks on end. Sometimes he was there with me. Often he would leave—to hang out with friends or to go to class himself but it became increasingly hard to get up, to shower, to put on clean clothes and drink some coffee and get out the door.
When I could, I felt better. I would come to class and listen to your lectures or to the guest speakers and I would realize that I saw something of myself in the way that they spoke. I would come home and try to vocalize that feeling. I would get laughed at for even considering that I wasn’t straight.
Vic, I need you to know that I’m not a terrible student. Those half-assed papers that I passed in on queerbaiting and Billie Jean King were written in the middle of the night while a drunk boy who stunk of cigarettes berated me and threatened to leave me.
I need you to know that you just caught me at a bad time. You only had a shell of a person sitting in front of you. And if I could do it over, I would.
I would come out as queer a month after the semester ended.
I would leave my abuser for good two weeks after that.
You don’t know me but I know you.
And I feel like you need to know that I made it through.
Your former and grateful student,