I chose to write under a pen name, R. E. Bradshaw, because I was a school teacher, at the time, and I write lesbian fiction. I was unable to offer help to gay students, while employed in the public school system, could not even offer a toll free help line #, for fear of losing my job. I never allowed students to say, “That’s so gay.” I found it offensive and told them so, but I couldn't tell them why.
The school I just resigned from shut down the Gay Student Association last month, before it could get started, because the administrators were afraid of community backlash, even though the faculty and student body were supportive of the new group. That, in itself, was a public declaration that the gay students were "less than" the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Multi-cultural club, the DECA club, the chess club, the drama club, the robotics club, the young republicans, you get the picture. What do you expect from a state that has Sally Kern? (Sally is the woman who said homosexuals were more of a threat than terrorists.) By the way, in case you’re wondering, I resigned because the mold in the building was killing me, but that’s another post.
Once out of public education, I felt such relief when I was finally able to say out loud, I am a lesbian. Imagine how empowering it would be for a child to know that feeling. If I, as an adult, felt “less than” equal to my fellow faculty members, because I couldn’t put a picture of my wife of 23 years on my desk, because I had to lie to my students when they asked about my private life, because I couldn’t take my significant other to any of the faculty parties, because my wife could not share in my successes in public, because even though we've been together for all these years and raised a wonderful young man, we are still not considered a family, etc, then imagine how horrible it must be to be labeled “less than” as a child.
I did not have a romantic relationship with a woman until I was 26 years old, and still it was a confusing to me. I lost friends, family members, and almost my child, because I chose to love a woman. I was the exact same person I was before I slept with a woman, but somehow I had become, “less than.” I finally came to terms with it by saying to myself, “If the powers that be gave me this beautiful person to love and who loves me, then who am I to argue with fate.” I can’t imagine being a child and trying to figure out his/her sexuality and being hated for it.
Therefore, for all my fellow teachers and others, who work in situations where you have to hide who you are and who you love, for all those kids out there who can’t be themselves because of fear they’ll be terrorized by bullies, for those military brothers and sisters trapped in the DADT web of deceit, I am stepping up. I won’t hide who I am. I will continue to use the pen name, because I have a following under that name, but to anyone that asks, I say…My name is Vicki W. Thomas and I am proud to be a lesbian.