Growing up as a teenager( in the 1970s), I had an increasing sense of being different from almost all of my peers. Subconsciously, I somehow knew I was attracted to other boys; but I knew to exhibit any overt signs of this were dangerous; and, having had the painful example of one physically slightly “camp”(and thus perceived as gay)boy tied remorselessly to the cloakroom railings, as I had the misfortune to myself see, I had enough sense of self-preservation to avoid that cruel fate.Luckily for me I was not perceived as camp(in the sense of being, in that perjorative to women word, “effeminate”) so managed to survive unscathed, in this regard, through being perceived, I suppose, instead, as “geeky”, academic; possibly as a little eccentric. One strange concomitance of this was that, subconsciously aware as i was(of my difference of sexual orientation from the socially and psychologically policed “norm”), I deliberately if semi-consciously, cultivated a sublimated difference; which was (at least, slightly) more socially acceptable. I calculatedly altered my slight Liverpool accent and TALKED differently: “Wirral Scouse”, as its sometimes called, usually perjoratively again, being the (only marginally) nearest equivalent. This was mainly unnoticed and uncommented on, unless, perhaps, it may been seen as part of my general difference of demeanour, general shyness and unsocialibilty (this being in the Sixth Form).
Today, this sometimes causes confusion and people’s inability to pigeonhole my accent(as people DO like to pigeonhole); I relish, ONLY when experiencing any reverse snobbery,or when people think I am not from Liverpool , explaining that I went to a fairly tough comprehensive school. I still(today) run risks,ironically, obviously, in any disclosure of the (above) true reason for the displacement of one difference for one other, slightly more socially acceptable one. At this juncture, I must stress that I am in no way a class snob: I did not change my accent to appear “middle class”: I did it to express my difference POSITIVELY and CREATIVELY, if in a sublimated and indirect fashion.
This way of coping in the mainly homophobic and heterosexist 1970s in a Liverpool comprehensive school may, quite likely, not be unique; and is surely not confined to Liverpool Comprehensive Schools!
I hope that gay children and teenagers today have less fear and less of a need for such circumlocutory means of,in some(indirect)way, being themselves. And I hope, be it in critical theory/thinking, or in daily life, we CONTINUE to move beyond class as the sole definer of inequality, seeing that individuals, AS individuals, may experience discrimination, for ANY reason, including(but not EXCLUSIVELY because of actual or perceived sexual orientation).