There was a skinny boy in my high school whom some people might not have remembered. He was tucked into himself and quick-shuffling through the halls, trying to be invisible so that he wouldn’t be a target for cruelty. He was not one of the fortunate ones. Not one of the pretty ones. Not one of those mean ones who seem taller standing on someone else’s face. No, this boy had shabby clothes, and the kind of thick, bushy, flaming red hair that kids pick on you for, and lovers later are amazed by. The reason he was a target was because he was so deeply, naturally effeminate. With me, he was free to be delighted. I can picture his way-too-white bony wrists cocked against his little bird chest, and a girlish ankle twisted “just so” behind him. He never had the chance to grow into his infectious, buck-toothed grin or his queenie cackle. He never grew up to find his pride, as we all have. This kid suffered so much queer-bashing for being differently-gendered, in the 10th grade he finally ended the abuse with a noose around his neck. He had never even kissed a boy.
I have thought of you for 27 years, Howie.
*You were such a joy*.