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Yes, I’m a Gay Teacher!5 min read

It’s no secret, I’m gay. It never really has been…well maybe in College…but all my friends swear up and down to this day that they all knew I pitched for the homo team, from our first meeting in our freshman dorm {Nevills Hall, represent!}.  I’ve always felt that when it came to work/school and my career that I would be “out,” but I never walked into my classroom waving the rainbow flag. Rumor mills are the same in every school across America; there were whispers, suspicions, and if it ever came up, I would never deny it.  I’m an out, proud gay man but I never wanted it to be the focus. I was an English teacher who was gay, not the gay English Teacher. 

When I first started teaching and for most of my decades-long career, things were very very different. This is before we got the Marriage Equality Act passed and before “Will and Grace.” These were somewhat tough times. Matthew Shepard was killed less than five years before I started teaching. You had to be careful. Case in point: a gay male friend of mine was outed at a school he was teaching in. Almost overnight he sensed the tide turning against him. He couldn’t outright be fired just for being gay…but there were little things that started to unravel — like the janitor abruptly suddenly stopped cleaning his classroom. Parent complaints multiplied,  seemingly overnight, and after years of consistently stellar reports, he received lower scores on observations. He resigned midyear and found a lower paying job where he was much happier.

Wide Awake

Most of my memories and experiences as a teacher have been overwhelmingly positive. Looking back there are some that might not have been so positive.  Sometimes parents try to get too close to a teacher or fish for information that is none of their business. My outgoing, friendly personality often interprets as being an invitation for them to pursue a friendship.  Hiding myself on social media was just as much hiding from the parents as it was for hiding from the students! More than once during a parent/teacher meeting, a parent would lean in and say, “Mr. D we should go to (insert name of gay bar here) and have a drink.”  I would answer, “Your son is failing English Honors, you know that’s why you’re here, right?” 

Another time, on the last day of school, I was packing my car and ran into a parent in the parking lot. We got to talking and I mentioned that I was leaving on a cruise later that day. “Oh, is it an Atlantis Cruise?” she asked, adding a wink. {Atlantis is a private travel company catering to LGBTQI+ community.} I answered “No, but I have  been on more than one of those and they are fun.” Gotta give the people what they want!  Sometimes that goes well, like on this occasion, but sometimes it bites you in the ass.

A “well meaning” parent suggested to the principal that I favored the gay and lesbian students because I too was gay.  My amazing principal at the time answered her flat-out “Let me make this clear Mr. DeDominic’s sexual preference is not up for discussion, nor does it in any way influence his lesson planning, grading or treatment of students.  This meeting is over.” BOOYAH!  

Tonight, NYC gets ready for ONE NIGHT ONLY!

Another not-so-fun time was when a parent was banned from contacting me  and ever entering my classroom after leaving me a message stating that if I failed his daughter, “there will be trouble and you will be sorry you fairy.” Those words were perceived as a threat and I was on edge for a few days. In the end, said daughter handled in her missing work, aced a paper and wound up with a C+ for the marking period. It was only a progress report that said she was in danger of failing! Jeez! 

These last two stories really do make me smile, one in a nervous kind of way. At a high school I taught, on Valentines Day, for $1 you can buy a “lovegram” — meaning members of the chorus will serenade that special someone in class. This was a “non instruction” day since students are in and out of your 45 minute class nonstop, singing to each other. It’s actually super cute.  In walks three seniors, costumed, ready to sing. I quieted down the class and was then told, “No Mr. DeDominic, this one is for you!” Ok I thought to myself, this is nice, I am close with lots of the students, they eat lunch in my room…thinking nothing of it…until they start singing the song. The song chosen was “No One” by Alicia Keys, as in “no one, no one, can get in the way that I am feeling for you…” AWKWARD. I am sure my face said it all because 30+ juniors were living their life listening and watching. Thankfully the tension was cut from way in the back, “which one of you thirsty hos sent THIS song to Mr. DeDominic, he likes DUDES! And probably old dudes, look at him! you still have to write the paper that’s due tomorrow – waste of your dollar!!!”


Lastly, one day a sophomore girl named Rayne* walked into my room. Rayne, to my knowledge, was out of the closet at the time…walking from class to class, hand in hand with her girlfriend. She walks in, asks if she can ask me a very personal question, and I say sure.

“Mr. D, are we family?” she inquires, smiling ear to ear.

“Yes Rayne, we are family.”

 “I KNEW IT! My gaydar is on point. Everyone insists you and Mrs. _____ are a couple because you are together all the time but I knew!” 

I calm her infectious enthusiasm down letting her know that while I am out and proud I am not the GAY ENGLISH TEACHER. She lets me know in no uncertain terms that she has my back, because that’s what you do for family. 

It’s good to know that sometimes you are lucky enough to find gay family that has your back!

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