Life has become quite painfully grown up of late. Although I'm in a school I really like, the demands of my job plus two recent moves and two family deaths all in quick succession have left my brain feeling quite overstretched.
Working as a teacher has meant that I feel a demand to be on top of my game at all time, all the while projecting a persona that is somewhere between Maria Von Trapp and vinegar tits from cell block H. Quite frequently I get treated as a lesser form of lifeform by male students purely for being youngish, female and dressing in a way that doesn't hide that I'm female. I'm always covered up, but I made a decision that when I became a teacher I would not become beige, I would stay a faggettey femme.
Nevertheless when I've had a series of hormonal teenage boys whose eyes are on my breasts or arse and not on the board or my face it becomes draining. Little comments will be just about audible when my back is turned. I still have the stripper-sonar ability to know when some lechy entitled dickhead is getting perilously close to me without having to turn around. Boys will be boys you may say.
Recently though I've started to catch myself feeling responsible for it, and constantly angry and worn down by the constant feeling in the air of being seen as less important because of being a woman and more to the point a particular type of woman. On days when to cheer myself up and feel a bit happier about myself I've put on a pair of nice heels, lipstick and sexy underwear under my day time drag and walk with a bit more swagger and it generates more hormonal boy attention I feel physically sick and like every other adult would just see me as a floozy who's asking for it if I speak out.
Thankfully I'm not in the grey backward land of Rotherham where it was suggested jokingly to me "You know that lad in your class only treats you like that cos he fancies you? Tell you what, come in a hijab tomorrow, then he'd leave you alone!" by a fellow teacher.
Being a femme who isn't read as queer by straight people unless I choose to out myself I'm in a privileged position of being able to choose when and if I want to be out to students. Being white, able bodied, educated and not facing grinding poverty I get the chance to choose my moment and know that the world won't fall around my ears if it all goes horribly wrong. I hate lying by omission and now I've started being quizzed about whether I'm married or have a boyfriend actively lying to students.
There are some ideals and principles that I just don't want to sacrifice. That life only "gets better" for queers through visibility and toughing out discrimination and being out. It only gets better for the students I teach (some of whom are clearly not straight or have same sex parents) when they see that being different is normal. I want to be out but I'm simultaneously scared of the potentially worse discrimination I could get from my students who come from more conservative or religious backgrounds. The ones who refuse to do Shakespeare because they found out the actors were all originally men and two men playing Romeo and Juliet is disgusting to them.
This feeling is only going to change by challenging these thoughts daily, that actually I can walk into work being who I want to be and not have to hide. Which will take time. In the meantime there is Hedwig and Ivan Coyote's sage like wisdom.