My Anti-Racist, Anti-Homophobe English Teacher

There's a HUGE brouhaha raging in my hometown right now because the principal of my high school "let" the black kids have an all-black assembly to discuss Ferguson, Eric Garner and Black Lives Matter during the last few days of Black History Month.

In a mostly white community, it is not going well. But the straight, white teacher who stood up for me as "the only gay in the village" back in 1994 is also fucking shit up for the black kids in 2015. This is what being an ally, being a teacher, being a hero looks like.

My High School English Teacher is an Anti-Racist, Anti-Homophobe Hero

My junior year high school English teacher also ran our high school's version of a state-wide anti-drug program called "Snowball." But he ran it a little differently. Where most other schools used it as a weekend for kids to get together and talk about how "not to do drugs," he used it as a weekend for kids to get together and talk about all the different challenges in life that might possibly lead us to "do drugs," (or self harm, or commit suicide, or any number of bad things).

As a result, we all opened up a whole hell of a lot more, since the point of the weekend wasn't "JUST SAY NO!" but "what's bothering you and why?" The year I aged into being a leader, being the first and only openly gay kid in school (1994), I was part of a workshop that talked about homophobia, identity and bullying. That night around the bonfire, I felt like a rockstar, with no less than fifteen other kids in my orbit, talking about some version of those issues.

On February 27, my high school held a Black Lives Matter assembly, part of Black History Month, that was an affinity group just for the black kids that had experienced anti-black racism. The backlash was swift, pointed and brutal. White people (I'm white) immediately made it all about them, how they had been excluded, how this was "reverse racism," and how this was THE WORST THING SINCE SLAVERY!!! (emphasis added)

Since then, there's been a lot of back and forth, a lot of this and that, but I was truly inspired that the man who stood up for me, 21 years ago, stood up in front of the school board and risked his job to say this:

"Not everything is about us. Not everything needs to have our stamp of approval, much less our participation. Can we just check our white privilege for a minute?" said OPRF English teacher Paul Noble. "I don't know why a white affinity group is necessary to make a black affinity group palatable."


I am so floored that this man who stood up for little gay me is still standing up for black kids 21 years later. These are the teachers we need. These are the allies we need. WHY THE FUCK DON'T WE HAVE MORE TEACHERS LIKE THIS???