Serenity Prayer by Rafael Santiago Jr
“Like most effeminate boys, I was mocked constantly in school. For me, the torment began in the third grade when I started to hear, again and again, that I was a “girly-girl.” Every year after that it got worse, but, because I was ashamed, I waited until middle school before I asked an adult to do something about the teasing.
It was then that Guillermo, a cousin I hardly knew, moved to my hometown and enrolled in the seventh grade. His buddies, a small group of some of the most disliked boys in my class, decided they would call me “Esmeralda.” It had always been the popular kids who teased me, so it was more than I could bear when my cousin and his friends started mocking me too.
When his mom came to visit mine one afternoon, I complained that Guillermo always pretended that I was a girl. It seems odd to me now that I chose Aunt Aixsa to ask for help—everybody said that she thought of me as a “straight-up little faggot.” But, when I told her about my problem, she offered me a tough Latina stare.
“Ralphy,” she said, “You’re not a girl. Don’t let them say that to you. Come here, come here—whenever people call you a girl, go up to them and prove you’re a man. Just pull your penis out of your pants.”
I’m still a soft-spoken and graceful male who is sexually attracted to the male form and who is still working out his problems with people like my cousin and his pathetic friends. I’ve long since learned that even so-called “masculine” and “bi-sexual” males too often shun effeminate males: no femmes allowed. Just like my classmates, they don’t see me as a man, despite the obvious. Therefore, I continue metaphorically to follow my aunt’s advice in life and art.”