An Apology that’s Never Been Too Late

On growing up, on accepting one’s own homosexuality finally, through the years, translated…

Since my return from Paris a decade ago, I’d worked as an English substitute teacher in a middle school temporarily. The course I taught was open for first and second year middle school students with excellent grades in their ability to understand the English language. Back then, there was a student, A, very tall, looked like a gentleman, enjoyed sitting in the corner of the room, had almost, NO interactions with the rest of the students. Once I’d partnered up the classmates for a dialogue practice. A disregarded his assigned partner, held tightly to his book, sat in his assigned seats, refused to move. I’d asked, what’s wrong? He’d replied coldly, “What’s it to you, you GAY!”, this sort of an insulting, emotional reply, caused the entire classroom to feel dead instantly, and all the other students turned their heads, to look at A, and I, who was, in shock. A’s emotions came out of nowhere, and I’d, stared at him, without a single word.

While I was young, I’d not hidden the fact that I’m a homosexual from the world, but, I’d felt, that it wasn’t necessary for me to disclose that information about myself to anybody. And the students would from time to time, ask me, “Teacher, are you, gay?”, because I’d behaved, differently than the “norm” that’s dissonant with what’s in their knowledge and understanding. I’d usually stated, “I don’t have a boyfriend right now” or, “Wow, so, you’d noticed”, answered my students half-jokingly. And yet A’s strong, “you GAY!” had become, that sharpened knife, stabbed, toward me, I was, so ill-prepared. That day, I’d still carried on in class, but the atmosphere was, changed, and, as A lifted up his head from time to time, I saw that hatred in his eyes when he looked at me, like I was, his arch nemesis. As the class was over, he’d turned down my concern; the very next week, he’d, dropped my course, and, as I’d, bumped into A around the school, he’d dodged me intentionally, and he would maximize his voice volume as he saw me with his other classmates, and screamed out into the air, (actually, I knew, he was, directing it towards me) “Sissy”. A semester later, I’d left this school, and, A’s behaviors toward me, became, a mystery ever since.

Last month, I’d gone to a café in Taipei with a friend to catch up. Half way through the conversations, he’d picked up his cell and texted me, “Shang-Der, the two guys sitting on our right had been looking at you, and whispering to one another, they looked suspicious, perhaps, they have a crush on you!”, I’d turned my head to look, they were, handsome looking, boys, about age twenty, one of them stared at me shyly, and managed out a “hello, teacher!”

The A I’d bumped into a decade later, without that pride and that gloominess draping over his face, and, had that smile. I’d turned around, chatted with him for a bit, learned that he was studying in the foreign languages department of a grad school, with high grades, and, he’d filled up his spare time too. Actually, in the short over ten minutes’ conversation, I’d completely, forgotten about that incident ten years ago, we were, reminiscing over the past.

Before I left, A told me, “Teacher, I’d been, following you, as you’d come to my college to lecture, I was there, in the audience…”, then, the other boy continued, “Teacher, you are, his idol!”, looking at A, I’d recalled, that look of disgust on his face as he, screamed out at me, it was hard, for me to believe, that it’s the same as the guy I’m talking to right now. “For real? Then, you shall, pay for our table then!”, I’d joked with him, and, I saw A starting to blush, and, to cover his own embarrassment, he’d pulled his friend, walked out, and stated to me, “Teacher, I’m truly glad, I’d, bumped into you again. I’ll treat you out at another time.”

My friend started wondering about the relationship between me and A then, as I’d told him, half way through my story, my cell phone started ringing, it was A. “Sir, I wanted to apologize to you, I didn’t know any better, I wasn’t at all respectful toward you, I’d, called you a really, awful name, and, it’d, haunted me all these years.” And A didn’t explain why he’d done what he had to me; specially, toward the end of that message, I’d started smiling first, then, started, crying my tears because I was moved, “Teacher, the one you saw me with is my boyfriend. We’d been together three years now, we’re very good to each other. Next time, I’ll take him to have a meal with you. Bye.”

So, this young man’s behavior is finally explained, as the instructor bumped into him later, back then, the teen probably had issues accepting his own homosexuality, that, was why he’d, projected it toward the instructor, and, after a decade of so of growth, the student slowly came to acceptance about who he is, and he’d felt bad for calling the instructor that name, and, he’d had a time, to find closure for the bad things he’d said to the man, by this, chance-encounter with him at a café. Things have a way, of working themselves out…


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