I picked myself up from between the school bags that had fallen on me and ruefully looked around while shaking my head as I watched the guy disappeared down the hall laughing and carrying on to his friends.
I sat there for a moment surrounded by the school bags that had fallen on me thinking about what it meant to be called a poofter. Sure it was an insult in the sense of how it had been said to me. But it was true I was gay, I did suck cock and do the things that people taunted me with.
It was damn confusing really because I was happy with who and what I was, it was just society that had the problem, or seemed to have the problem with me. I got up and dusted my self off, gingerly flexing my elbow that had impacted with the wall as I made my own way down the corridor. Strangely I felt no particular hurt or anger from this episode of random violence that I was subjected to on an almost daily basis.
Instead it started my mind thinking about what it meant to be gay and what society really thought about people like us. The school was particularly homophobic, well I reasoned to myself, it was to be expected since it was an all boys Christian school. The Bible told us apparently that homosexuality was wrong and that I would be damned in hell for all eternity because of who I was.
But I felt differently about that, I never thought of myself as particularly religious, I went to chapel with the rest of my year group and called myself a "Christian". If God so hated homosexuality I thought, then why did he make so many of them. It was a puzzling thought and I remembered a particularly vitriolic sermon the school chaplain had delivered the previous year.
The sermon had basically slammed our entire school for coming second in a recent swimming carnival and the minister had called us all poofters and nancy boys for not trying hard enough. The tirade of abuse went on for nearly half an hour and in the end he had managed to make everyone in the school feel that homosexuals were so evil that they almost should be shot on site.
This was not the only example of my school's ingrained homophobia. I remembered a great English teacher in my first year of school. One day when we arrived at class the headmaster was there instead of the teacher. He closed the door and started to ask us about how we were treated in this class. He told us that the teacher was mentally ill and had been forced from the school. We found out later that he had been seen walking from a gay club in the city by another teacher who was driving by. He was fired the next morning and we were told that he had a sever mental illness and was a pedophile who was against nature and God.
In many ways the abuse that I got at school was tacitly sanctioned by the school. We had a rule about bullying - "Bullying is forbidden and does not happen at this school". But in reality I was different and the school knew it, they thought that I wasn't enough of a man so I should be treated like hell and when guys beat me up they turned a blind eye to it. I wasn't even out of the closet, I tried my best to fit in and pretend like the rest of the boys, but I suppose that your true self does shine through.
I broke out of my thoughts and made my way to the rest of my classes for the day, but my mind was not in the lessons. The teachers sensed that I was not in the mood for answering questions about trigonometry and made me try to figure out a really complex equation on the board. I groaned to myself as I got up as some of the boys in my class snickered and made cat calls at me.
"Maybe he would be better knitting", one whispered loudly enough for the entire class and teacher to hear. The teacher gave me a withering look, "Just get on with it boy". I didn't even have the support of my own teachers. I finished the equation quickly, because it was something that I had been studying for a while and quickly walked back to my desk to hide.
The teacher who seemed surprised that I could understand such a complex equation seemed disappointed that I had not failed and he could not ridicule me. Stuff them I thought to myself, when it comes round for my exams I'll beat them all and walk out of here and never think about this hell hole again.
The bell rang signaling the end of the class and I quickly grabbed my books and dashed for the door, but in my haste to escape and go home I didn't notice that one of the footy team members had slipped his foot out and I crashed down onto the floor. My books scattered around me and the whole class including the teacher laughed at my predicament.
My face went beet red and I scowled at the teacher as he winked at the guy who had tripped me up.
"Be more careful will you, those books don't belong to you, they belong to the school", he chuckled gleefully. My mind was racing and my head was pounding as I got up turned to the teacher and swore at him under my breath.
"What was that" he asked as all the previous mirth left his face and is eyes turned narrow and hard as ice?
"Nothing", I muttered staring at him keeping full eye contact, "I was tripped by Martin, Sir" I spat out with more venom than I thought I possessed. We kept eye contact as the entire class stopped moving and a surprised silence sprang over the room.
"I don't like your attitude boy", he spat at me, "you need to learn some respect for your teachers, report to the headmaster's office right now".
I couldn't believe the unfairness of the whole situation, here I was being sent to the head's office for being tripped up by some idiot, this was just too much for me to bear and I exploded.
"Look, Sir," I said condescendingly, "I was tripped up by Martin, I did not trip over myself, and it was not my fault, stop treating me like I am some idiot and why don't you show me some respect.
The entire classroom gasped at my outburst and as soon as I had said it I knew that I had really overstepped the mark badly and I knew I was in for retribution now. The teacher's face went redder than I had ever seen it contrasting with the grey hair that sparsely covered his head. He rushed over to me and roughly grabbed my arm causing me to wince in pain and try to pull away.
"Don't you touch me, that's assault and I'll have you charged" I yelled at him. He snarled at me making his grip even harder and pulled me out of the classroom into the corridor. I was very worked up by this stage and was yelling at him to let me go, as he dragged me towards the headmaster's office. I was surprised at just how hard he had grabbed me and the pain it was causing me, as I had no idea that this middle aged man had such strength.
Along the way teachers and students stopped and stared at us as my yells and screams attracted a lot of attention. Just outside the headmasters office he turned to me and said, " I'm going to bloody well make sure that you are expelled from this school you sniveling little poofter, you and your kind have no place in a good Christian school". He twisted my arm even harder and I yelped in extreme pain as my entire arm felt like it was being ripped from my shoulder.
At that point I heard someone else yelling, "get your hands off him George, and stop that immediately". I was pulled round with his arm still gripping my arm causing tears to fall down my face to see Cass standing there with fire in her eyes breathing heavily.
"How dare you touch one of the students like that and say those sorts of things, what the hell is going on", she breathed out. Finally he let go of my arm and I sagged against the door, tears streaming down my cheeks with my left arm almost hanging by my side throbbing .
Cass had obviously seen and heard the threats that he had been making and was beside herself with rage. "That's it I've had your pathetic insults and outlandish behavior towards the students", she continued.
"You have no right to treat anyone like that and you should not be in this school". She squared up against him staring right into his face as he snarled at her, "Mind your own business, this is between me and this insolent fool, keep your nose out of it".
Cass looked at me and sked what happened. In between gritted teeth against the pain I told her everything from how I had been tripped up at the end of class and how he had grabbed me and dragged me along. Her face furrowed in concern and she pushed past him and opened the door into the Headmaster's outer office. The secretary was sitting there with a look of fear and concern on her face as the three of us burst into the room.
"Call the school nurse and have her come down right away, this student needs medical attention", she said in a commanding voice and the secretary quickly picked up the phone and dialed.
As she was dialing Cass turned to the teacher and gave him a withering look. The door to the Head's office opened and he came storming out eyes ablaze staring at us and roared, "What in God's name is going on? I have two members of the school board in a meeting and they are not impressed to be interrupted".
Cass quickly told him what was happening and the teacher started butting in with hi version while I sat down in one of the leather chairs and tried to make the pain in my shoulder and arm go away. The head looked over at me and the corner of his lip turned up as he sneered condescendingly at me. "I might have known he would be in trouble", pointing at me.
Cass started to argue with him and her voice grew louder and louder until finally she yelled, "George assaulted him not just in front of the students but in front of me as well, I saw and heard it all, and if you don't do something about this right now I'm calling the police on Josh's behalf.
The atmosphere in the room suddenly became even more heated and the Headmaster nervously peered at me, "There is no reason for that Cass, now all of you come into my office and let's see what we can do about all of this, George into my office NOW!"
The door to the office opened and the school nurse came in holding an oxygen canister in one hand and the emergency first aid kit in the other. She walked straight in and asked who was injured. I stifled a giggle, even with the pain and the ridiculousness of the situation of the school nurse thinking that the headmaster or an important guest must have had a heart attack or something judging by the equipment she had bought with her.
The headmaster took charge and motioned for the nurse to have a look at me whilst the he, Cass and George went into his office. The door remained open while they were talking or more precisely shouting at each other and I could catch bits and pieces of the conversation.
The school nurse skillfully removed my shirt from me and starting to examine my arm and shoulder. Already the shoulder and upper arm was turning red and swelling badly which probably accounted for the extreme pain I was experiencing. I winced as she tenderly prodded my arm and shoulder and told the secretary who was still cowering behind her desk to get some ice and a tea towel for me.
I hadn't realized that with my shirt off the small little love bites that Tim gave me earlier in the day were exposed for all the world to see. I was starting to feel very nauseous from the pain and my head was swimming so I closed my eyes and sunk back into the chair. I suddenly felt like I was going to throw up and quickly opened my eyes to stop my head from spinning. The nurse looked up at my face from where she was kneeling on the floor and asked me if I was all right. She knew that I was a diabetic and asked if I had taken my medications that day correctly. I nodded my head trying to move my neck as little as possible to say that my meds were fine and my blood sugar level was not the problem.
I closed my eyes again and only opened them when I felt the coolness of the ice against my skin. I was sweating heavily by now and the waves of nausea were staring to fade away. She patted me on the head and smiled at me, "I don't think anything is broken, but you have badly strained your shoulder and I think that there is some muscle damage, just to be sure I am going to organize for you to get an x ray and see a specialist just in case".
I nodded and closed my eyes again. When I reopened them Cass was in the chair next to mine holding my hand looking at me. " Nice love bites", she grinned at me trying to take my mind off the throbbing in my arm. "I've called Jo and she's going to come to the hospital and talk to you about what happened". I recalled that Jo was a lawyer, but I never knew what kind of lawyer, but I suspected that it was something to do with social liberties and equal rights issues.
I could still hear the Headmaster and George arguing in his office as Cass and the school nurse helped me out of the office and towards Cass's car. As we walked students and teachers stopped what they were doing and stared at us as we passed. I was shirtless, a tea towel filled with his held to my shoulder being supported by Cass and I am sure that it made a very unusual sight. Tim rushed up to us as we walked past the music centre to the car park with a look of horror and panic in is eyes.
"Oh my God are you all right josh, are you all right", he babbled almost incoherently. I t took all the strength that I had left not to burst into tears and try to hug him, but I managed to keep my cool and just nodded. Cass quickly filled him in on what had happened and a look of pure white hot anger spread across his face.
"I'm going to kill him, I swear I am going to kill him for that", he angrily spat out between clenched teeth. The school nurse gave him a sideways glance and then looked at Cass. Cass nodded her head very slightly, but I caught the unspoken meaning of the action and knew that the school nurse had just put two and two together.
When we got to Cass's car and I was settled in the backseat, Tim jumped in beside me and helped me to keep the ice on my swollen throbbing arm. The school nurse told us we would go back to her office and ring the hospital to tell us we would be coming as she walked away. As soon as she was out of site Tim leaned in and gave me small kiss on the lips and gently stroked the side of my face and hair. He took the hand on my good arm in his and we went off to the hospital.
At the hospital I was taken away from Cass and Tim for X rays and all sorts of different people to prod and poke my shoulder and arm. I was finally given a painkiller and left alone for a while when Tim, Cass and Jo walked into the room. Cass explained to me that if I wanted Jo could represent me as my lawyer in taking action against the school and the teacher that had assaulted me. At that moment I was very unsure of what to do and so was quite indecisive. So far the police had not been called, but I was perfectly within y rights to do so. Because I was a minor my parents had been called and my mother would be at the hospital as soon as possible.
Cass told me that the school had suggested that if I took any action against the teacher or the school I would be expelled for insubordination to the teacher and I would have to site my exams somewhere else. Jo interjected that this tantamount to blackmail and if the school did that there would be a very strong case against them that in all probability I would win. Tim took stroked my face and told me that he would support whatever option I decided to take. I squeezed his hand and my heart felt like it would explode with such love and warmth that I felt for him.
Jo explained that in order for me to take any action in the future she had to call the police and have them take statements and photos of my shoulder and arm. I was scared by the whole thought and just wanted for the whole day never to have happened. But I knew that this was only the beginning. My final exams were in a little over three weeks and I knew that the school would expel me if I did take action. I was 18 next week and then I could take whatever action I wanted without having to involve my parents.
Jo suggested that it was better to keep my options open and that I should talk to the police and go through all the issues even if in the future I decided not to proceed with any action. In the end after talking to the three of them I decided that I would involve the police and then decide later what I would do.
Jo also said that there was no reason for me to tell anyone that I or Tim was gay, as the insinuation that I was gay and the assault was enough for a legal case. I breathed a sigh of relief and Tim agreed that he was not ready yet to tell the world that he was gay.
My mother arrived during our conversation and she was flushed with concern and worry. Once she had heard the story about what had happened she was furious, not just with the school, but with me as well. Cass and Jo tried to calm her down a bit and Jo explained that I was willing to press charges against the school. My mother was panic stricken by this and wailed about what would the school do to me and that I would be ruining the rest of my life I did that.
Mum looked at Tim who had moved away from me when I had arrived and asked why he was there. Tim went a deep shade or red and started to mutter something when Cass broken in and told her that he had helped her get me to the hospital, and since he was one of my good friends had been kind enough to stay there.
Mum nodded her head smiled at him and said thank you for being such a good friend, for once she seemed genuine in her thanks to him and told him that he should come around for dinner one night. I smiled to myself because I wondered what she would have said if she knew that Tim and I were boyfriends.
My mother stayed the rest of the afternoon whilst I was interviewed by the police and had numerous pictures taken of my shoulder and arm. The doctor finally came around and told me that I had done no major damage, apart from some deep bruising and some small muscle tears that would take a few weeks to heal. I was grateful for that piece of news because I was right handed and it was my left arm that had been hurt. E said the pain was from my shoulder joint which had been pulled very hard and could have dislocated my shoulder if the pressure had gone on much more.
I looked down at my arm where the teacher's hand had been and could see distinctly the bruises forming where his hand and fingers and gripped me so tightly. I was allowed to go home at about 6pm and had a few quick minutes saying good bye to Tim while my mother went to bring her car to the front of the emergency room.
"I'm so proud of you, you know", he whispered in my ear as we hugged, " and I love you very very much".
WE both broke apart as I heard my mother's voice calling me and walked outside. She offered Tim and lift, but he said he would get a lift back to the school with Cass and Jo as his car was still there.
I felt terribly empty as we drove away and my mother started to talk to me and try to convince me not to take legal action against the school. She also said that my father was at home waiting for me and he wanted to talk to me. My heart sank as I knew my father was going to be absolutely furious and would be a real pain in the neck. My shoulder and arm were still sore even though I had been given two pain killers, and my head was pounding with fear about what y father was going to say.
When we reached my house there were three cars parked on the curb that I did not recognize and I wondered who was there. My question was answered very quickly when I walked in the front door and saw my father on the sofa facing the door and on the other sofa, my school headmaster, the teacher that had assaulted me and two other men in suits sitting on chairs from the dining room. They were all busy talking in serious voices and I could tell what was going on.
My eyes narrowed as I took in this sight and I gave my father an angry and withering look. The men got up from their seats and my father coughed nervously and motioned for to site down beside him. My mother clucked around them asking if anyone wanted tea or coffee, being the perfect hostess while I stood rooted to the spot. My father again told me to sit down, but this time in a more demanding voice and I continued to stand still not moving.
"Josh, these gentleman have just told me about your disgusting behavior today at school and how you assaulted your teacher before falling over and hurting your arm. They have also told me that they have been visited by the police and have said that they will not press any charges against you if you cooperate with them fully. They have been gracious enough to allow you to finish your schooling and forget all about this disgusting incident, he continued.
I was absolutely furious at the outright lies that they had told my father, more than that I was furious at my father for believing that I would assault a teacher. I stood there motionless fixed to the spot staring my father down for several seconds before I said or did anything else.
"Get out of my house you lying bastards," I growled at them, "you know full well that he assaulted me and did this to me, get out Get OUT and take your school and shove it, I'll bloody well see you all in court where you can rot in hell".
The entire room fell silent and I stared at George as his face went white as he realized that there was no way that I was going to let this slide or let him get away with this.
The Headmaster stood up and looked at me, before speaking in a somewhat calm voice considering what I had just said. He told me that if I dropped the whole thing no further action would be taken but if I pursued it I should be prepared to accept the consequences.
I looked him right in the eye and told him that I had more than enough witnesses to back my story up and if he ever did or said anything that was tantamount to blackmail I would have my lawyer sue the crap out of him and the school. My father was dumbfounded by my behavior and the conversation that was occurring because he obviously had believed the lies that they had told him. His face gave off a look of anger, frustration and horror all at once and he had no idea what to do.
All of his life he had shown respect to people like this that represented power and position and he had never ever raised his voice or complained to them.
I continued to stand there and with my good arm I pointed at the door of the house and told them to get out and not come back.
"Josh, be reasonable, these people have made an offer of good will to you and judging by your behavior today you should be accepting this, my father whined in a voice half filled with anger and held filled with fear.
"No, I said, I expect him, pointing to the teacher to be fired for assault or the school will be implicated in the issue as well.
The headmaster looked at me shook his head and said, "Meet me in my office tomorrow morning before school and I think we can all reach a compromise.
I said and did nothing as all the men got up and left leaving me alone with my parents. My father by now had regained his usual demeanor and looked at me sourly.
"why can't you just be like everyone else and not make trouble for us".
I exploded at him and we started a shouting match to end all shouting matches, I ended it by telling to go to hell and stormed off to my room slamming the door behind me.
I sat on my bed thinking about what I was going to do and whether I should press charges or let it slip. I picked up the phone to call Jo so I could discuss it with her, but my father was on the phone already. I listened quietly as I heard him talking to someone. I realized that it was the headmaster who was telling my father that I should drop the whole thing and no further action would be taken by the school. I listed with my anger growing as my father promised that he would convince me not to pursue it.
I carefully replaced the phone and thought about the events of the day which had to have been one of the worst days of my life. I thought at least that it couldn't get any worse, after all no one knew I was gay, and Tim and I were still together.