Being out as a writer = being out as a teacher

With the first day back to school on the horizon, I’m beginning to worry again about creating a balance between my writing life and my teaching life.  Of course, the time I spend on my novel will be significantly decreased, which will present the most obvious challenge.  But, it has occurred to me that I face another challenge this year—exposure.John

Now that I’m blogging and will soon be launching my website, my students will have more access to me, as a person and a writer, which does influence how they view me as a teacher.  I may even decide to use my blog in my Creative Writing class, if possible.

First of all, although I’ve never been in the closet to my students, I’ve never made a big deal about my sexuality either.  In my mind, that’s not the point.  I’ve always wanted my students and my colleagues to get to know me first, see that I’m more than my sexuality.  Being gay should make no difference in my ability to be a good teacher.  Although there have been disheartening moments—10th grade boys snickering at Brokeback Mountain, that sort of thing—I’ve never felt unsupported at school, especially by my colleagues or the administration.

Although I know that I have students and parents who disapprove of my sexuality  based on their religious beliefs, so far no one has confronted me about it.  In fact, I’ve been able to have good relationships with students who I know disapprove on religious grounds, but treat me with respect all the same.  I love that this happens.  I’m excited about the fact that people can disagree, but get along and even learn from each other.

In my mind, the greatest wisdom comes from appreciating and respecting different viewpoints and understanding the importance of their co-existence in the world.  The only real enemy is a desire to conquer and sublimate other individuals perspectives.  Think, Orwell’s Big Brother.

That being said, as I become more transparent at school through my blog, my website, and possibly, maybe one day my novel, the more I fear running into people who don’t respect my perspective and will attack me for it.  It’s something, eventually, whether at school or out in the world, I’m going to have to learn to deal with.  I’m just not looking forward to it.  I thrive off of harmony, not like some, conflict.

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4 Comments

Filed under Random Thoughts, Teaching and Writing

4 responses to “Being out as a writer = being out as a teacher

  1. Ginger

    John,
    You have always been an amazing man. That is the first thing anyone who meets you will know. Who you love is equally important.
    But I have a philosophy, I breastfeed my babies, but not in public. Before I had kids, I never walked around with my boobs showing to the world, so I wasn’t going to do it while “milking.”
    There is much conflict on that matter as what you are wondering how to handle in your working public eye.
    If you feel comfortable with your life and want everyone to know, they will probably respect for telling them. BUT, work and your personal life need balance and a healthy respect.
    I hope you find the balance you need. If you use your blog in your class, they will all know. If you are ready for it, you have my supprt!

    • johncopenhaver

      Yeah, it’s going to be an interesting journey to figure all that out. Many of my more observant students know already (after all, I have a photo of Jeff by my desk), but sometimes things change when its “published,” even if it’s just on the web.

  2. My novel, out last February, had sexual content that surprised some. I’m noticing, though, a new ease in the world because I feel less hidden. This is completely surprising to me and continues to be so.
    John, your students are so lucky to know you–and your adventuring, artist self which is finding expression in this blog and elsewhere, is just another part of that conversation.

    • johncopenhaver

      Marisha, we’ll have to talk more about how people are reacting to your novel. That’s really interesting to me. I’m reading it as a respite between bouts of editing, and I’m loving it!

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