"Times Have Changed" for this Out Teacher
Guest post from Greg Hutch.
It's two weeks before school starts and I am sitting in my classroom updating the photos in the frames on my desk. These frames used to be filled with pictures of my dogs, of me playing my instrument (I am a music teacher), or of the various other things that I have enjoyed in my lifetime. Today, they are filled with loving pictures of my family, including my son and partner who I raise him with. Times sure have changed…thanks to our son, Clark.
When I began teaching in 2002, times were very different and I never spoke about my personal life. I did not date, I did not go out, I just focused on being a great teacher. That is how many of us started out- "If I just do my job well enough, I will have a strong argument to fight for my job if anybody finds out…" Those times were terrifying, actually. I remember in 2004 when I finally dated somebody who was already out of the closet, he had bought me a book called "One Teacher in 10: LGBT Educators Share Their Stories." It was a compilation of essays written by teachers who had gone down the path to living out and proud as teachers long before I did. I read all of them and hoped that I would someday be able to write about my own story.
Greg (above, left) and Tim with Clark
Tim and I met in 2006 and he moved to my area, also working in a public school. Our area is divided by a river, the "East Shore" and the "West Shore." I grew up on the west shore and knew that people just don't cross the river for anything except for work or for driving from the west shore to HersheyPark, which is the biggest tourist destination in our area. For almost ten years, Tim and I drove from where we lived and worked to the other side of the river any time that we wanted to eat, shop, go to the movies, or do anything in public. The west shore was a safe place for us to avoid running into our students and their parents and it helped us avoid awkward questions in school.
Then came the phone call. I was sitting at a restaurant enjoying a post-band camp meal and drinks with the band staff, including a former student who was there to help out, when I got the call saying that a little boy had been born and that his mother had chosen us to be his parents. Right there at that moment, everything changed for me. "I'm going to be a dad! Here is enough money to cover the bill…I have to go!" Twelve hours later, I had a perfect, beautiful little son to care for. The years and years worth of questions that I had tried to avoid suddenly became unavoidable.
Two years have passed. The questions do not come up anymore and more importantly, the outpouring of love and support that I have had from the whole community that I teach in has been a true blessing that I am so grateful for. We have former students coming into our home to babysit, Tim and I are able to go to each other's events, and people ask us regularly about our son. There is no more running to the other side of the river (well, accept that we live there now, for reasons that have nothing to do with hiding), there is no more avoiding questions, and we are able to proudly display our family wherever we go…even in pictures on our desk.