Letter to an Old Teacher

Dear John, I don’t doubt you remember me. I’ve been getting in touch with some people from high school and that led to finding your church’s Web page and you. I had no idea before now that you went on to become a minister.

It’s important to me to let you know the impact that knowing you had on me. I should tell you that I consider the sexual relations between us in my freshman year in high school to have been sexual abuse. It took me a long time to understand that that was the case. I was just turning 15 years old if you recall when you seduced me.

At the time, I was coming into awareness of my sexuality, also still reeling from my parent’s divorce and the switch in custody that led to me to live with my father and go to the school where you taught. All in all, a pretty tender time.

In your role as advisor to the drama club, you held an important status to me. Also, it was pretty clear you were gay and that was really important too. I didn’t find the sex we had pleasurable. It was clear that something was very wrong with the scenario.

I painfully recall after the first time us going back to the high school for an evening drama club meeting, and me walking on ahead first so it wouldn’t seem like we were coming in together. I was so scared thinking that anyone could see what I had just done in the expression on my face. As we entered the building I turned around and saw you popping breath mints into your mouth. I was left with my naive worries about “dick breath” as you took care of your own needs.

At the time and for years after, I told myself that it was an unfortunate way for me to first have sex with another person, no real warmth, no real caring, but that I went into it with my eyes open. How repugnant of you to couch the experience in terms of my “education” about sex and about gay life, both of which I was so curious to know about. How clever of you to go into the bedroom first and to leave it up to me to come in after you if I wanted. That seemed to really make it my decision.

But that isn’t entirely accurate, is it? In fact, the power difference between us was immense. You were a teacher, in a position of status and authority in my world. You were an adult. The first gay person I ever knew to be gay. You were a linchpin in our drama club, which was so important to me and something I sought out to make high school bearable for me and fun and give me a sense of myself.

So in fact you used that power difference to reel me in. It was so clear it was bad. Especially as I barely talked to you for the next three years. I can’t imagine what it was like for you and I’m not really interested in trying. I do hope you regret it. I do hope that you know that it has impacted my life, not for the good, in many ways. I do hope that your spiritual life has given you insight into why you would want to sleep with boys, why you would harm them like that. I do hope also that your spiritual life has given you the strength not to do it any more.

It concerns me that you are still in a position of authority at your church—running the youth program!—and still capable of abusing it. I caution you to take care with the legacy you leave to the next generations of gay people. How horrible for your legacy to be a continuation of the cycles of abuse.