So, I wrote an essay for Kevin Jenning’s new book One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium: LGBT Teachers Talk About What Has Gotten Better…And What Hasn’t (Amazon link here or Beacon Press link here) — and Salon.com decided to showcase it to call attention to the book’s publication. Of course, I was excited– though I THOUGHT Salon was excerpting the essay and instead, they published it in its entirety.
The feedback was mostly terrific — lots of former students wrote to say what it meant to them to hear my story, what it meant to attend ARGS (where I teach) — such heartfelt and gratifying responses. Of course, there were lots of negative reactions too, mostly those left on Salon, readers who thought I was bigoted against the South, a condescending Northern snob. And I have to say — it felt strange to have people drawing conclusions about me who know nothing about me. And then, there was the one email sent to my school email address, about how I wasn’t “born gay” and how I could benefit from “straight” therapy. Straight to spam, that one!
Worse, perhaps, was the way Salon decided to “market” the essay–with the tagline “”After 21 years in a private school in Cambridge, I took a job in the South. It was not what I expected.”
First of all — that isn’t a true statement. I taught for 10 years in Andover, MA, 3 in Cambridge, MA and then 7 at VCU (in Richmond, VA) before I took the job I currently hold. Salon didn’t ask me if they could put those words in my mouth. And they slanted my essay in a way it wasn’t meant to be slanted.
Still — as a writer, it’s pretty exciting to have my work featured on Salon.com — though I wish I had known the way in which it was going to be featured before it happened. (No one asked my permission, though the publicity director at Beacon Press notified me that my essay was going to be “excerpted” on Salon.com around publication time).
If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link to Salon. Enjoy– and let me know what you think!