My name is an insult -
the worst one that there is
- not a four-letter word that can get you sent
to the principal's office if you say it.
It's the meanest thing you can call a person
but no one is offended when you say it.
No one except that rare, very liberal teacher
who occasionally asks them to stop
in his own quiet voice.
But even he knows
in his own quiet way
that too many people say that word
for one scolding
to make a difference.

My name is an insult -
a cruel insinuation
a sick, perverse joke
a sick, perverse lifestyle
limited to the flamboyant stereotypes on TV -
the gay caricature
feminine and bitchy
lover of drama
but always happy
and goofy
and amusing,
the silly Jim Crow-homo.
The TV people don't like to show the ones in pain -

the ones who know their name
and know it is an insult
and hear it as an insult
hour after hour
day after day
week after week
Will the school year ever end?

I don't want to rape you
or even flirt with you
or even talk to you
if you don't want me to.
I am at your mercy.
All I wish is to be left alone -
to live life as I please
and not be bothered
if I want to lovingly
hold the hand
of the boy I love.
You and your girlfriends may make out in the hallways -
erotic between-class dry-humping -
but I may not squeeze
lovingly
the hand
of the boy I love
for fear of your hatred.
I am at your mercy.

And always when I hear my name,
Eyes down, eyes down.
Sitting silently and still as stone
never speaking up
in my own quiet voice -
never telling them how it stings each time
they sneer my name.
Dear God, they might suspect!
And always in the locker room,
Eyes down, eyes down.
Careful always to look away,
I warn myself
even when I have no desire to look.
Eyes down, eyes down.
Oh God, they know my secret.

Oh God, they're going to beat me.
Oh God, they're going to kill me
like they killed Matthew Shepard
And call me by name -
that rotten, awful name.
I once had a name
that wasn't an insult
that my mother gave to me.
What was it?
I seem to have forgotten
just as they have.

I am not a human.
I am not a face.
I am not a soul
that can never be replaced.
I am but an insult -
the worst one that there is.
I endure each day
in my own quiet way
and go home
to
slit
my
wrists

.
.