Photos: Samuel Clemens Long

By: James Clark

If the curtains of the Meridian High School theater stage could talk, they would probably call me a whore.It’s true; however, it was all for a good cause.I ran a service during my high school career of helping my questioning male peers determine their sexuality. I would offer them a few minutes in between classes or during lunch to sit with me behind the stage and make out for a 5-minute length max (occasionally longer depending on the guy).I of course had a small fee. In exchange for it to remain a secret I would ask for my patrons to do one of three things. 1) Complete my physics, algebra, geometry, or chemistry homework. 2) Create a cheat sheet system for my agriculture development “safety first” test. 3) Agree to stop harassing me about my sexuality.They would normally choose option one or two. God forbid, they would stop sexually harassing and bullying the gay kid they just made out with in central Texas.I called it, “Operation Kiss All, Tell None, Until I am Offered a Book Deal”.When I left high school I was ashamed of the small business I ran. Not only was I unsure how to do STEM problems, but I also felt I had prostituted myself.My freshmen year in college I took a trip to Chicago and helped provide shelter, food, and contraception to homeless male prostitutes.  There I learned something much deeper about myself: I was brave, and I was a survivor.Through all the bullying in high school I found a way to be at peace with my identity. In my small rural community 40 minutes outside of Waco, I wasn’t the only gay person. There were in fact, according to my own record, 22 gay male peers that sought my services over the course of 5 years in middle school and high school.  I was just brave enough to be open about who I was.I found a creative solution to tell off the bullies internally.To all my male peers that mocked me for being less manly: I kissed boys (probably you – it was a very small school), played the clarinet, and learned how to change a tire all in one year. To all of my female peers that mocked my sexuality it’s no longer a secret: I probably kissed your boyfriend.