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Mark D. Snyder

By Mark D. Snyder
Mark Snyder is the founder of, an organization of activists and bloggers that seeks to continue the legacy of queer resistance of our dominant culture through media campaigns and protests. Mark is a former employee of The Boston Alliance of LGBT Youth, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Greater Boston PFLAG. Through BAGLY, PFLAG, and SpeakOut Boston, Mark has shared his childhood struggle to overcome homophobia and oppression with thousands of students, teachers, and community leaders.

he sun’s summer rays and the shadows from the trees danced on the wooden floor of my parent’s bedroom. I stood in the doorway of my mother’s closet, which used to be a section of the hayloft when our house was still a barn. I carefully studied each dress, blouse, and of course the shoes. She is a hearty, countrified woman, so as I slid my scrawny little body into the world of clothing in front of me, I had to navigate through an endless array of disheveled tapered jeans, plaid flannels, and sweatshirts.

In the dark, back corner of the closet, I found a flowered dress. And after a tireless search, I located a pair of matching heels. I threw the ensemble on the bed and headed towards her dresser for a braw and pantyhose.  Soon I was dwarfed in a flowing summer dress and heels. I skated into the bathroom, without lifting a foot, so I could see myself in the mirror. I smiled. I danced in place. I lip-synced to New Kinds on The Block. I took off the heels, and twirled around so the air would blow the dress in every direction.  I lifted the dress up to create skirts, tied belts around it, and transformed it into a variety of styles, modeling each one for the mirror.

That is when I heard the bellow of my name from downstairs. “Luuuuunch is reaaaddddy,” never sounded more terrifying. Within seconds, the outfit was returned, and I arrived at the table in my favorite pair of short purple shorts. Legs crossed, foot swinging up and down, I delicately ate and discussed the day with my mom. After lunch, I went outside to play with my animals and explore the woods.

I had to feed and take care of the chickens and pot-bellied pigs. The lamb needed bottle fed, and she cried so loudly for her meal you could hear her down the lane.  My imaginative world involved quite a bit of responsibility! I had to give my imaginary “tourists” rides on my bicycle “tram” to show them the mountainside and the local “zoo.” I had to give them talent shows on my swing set, and introduce them to the delicious fresh watercress growing in the stream. The days flew by, each ending with a joyous skip through the yard and into the house for dinner.

And then fall would sweep across the countryside.  It brought with it cool, crisp air touched with the scent of falling leaves. The fields turned brown, and the animals retreated to their warm stalls. School busses zoomed across the curvy roads slowing down only for the occasional horse-and-buggy, and the dust from the dirt roads swirled and dirtied everything.

In fall, brute men in orange, camouflage styled coats and hats would invade my quiet refuge on the mountain. I promised my animals I would do my best to protect them. My dog was grey, tan, and white, and I had always feared that he would be mistaken for a deer.  We had school vacation for the first day of each hunting season – doe, buck, bear…  Then, on my way down the mountain to wait for the school bus each morning after, my father and I would see the prized animals they killed, bloodily hanging from metal poles in front of hunting cabins. 

I would sometimes tremble from the moment I left my house ‘till the moment I returned back home. I was always the first child on the bus, and as each student boarded I felt more isolated. They did not talk like me, or dress like me. While they showed off their hunting fashions and gadgets, and their sports gear I would try to sleep or finish my homework.  Little spit balls would hit the back of my head, occasionally accompanied with a “City boy!”, “Fag,” or “Sissy.”

I kept to myself most of the time, trying to both not read as particularly feminine while also not repressing it too deeply. I was surrounded by an aura of androgyny for much of my schooling – but that is enough to get you killed where I am from. As I grew older, I struggled to strike a balance between being myself and avoiding harassment. I tried some of the less aggressive sports, but failed miserably. I tried fishing, but I quit after one season. I took two kinds of karate, and quit once I knew how to defend myself.

My high school years began in seventh grade, and they were wrought with torment. My lockers and desks were defaced.  I was spit on, kicked, punched, mock raped, choked, and – worst of all – excluded from the few friendships I had maintained throughout elementary school.

In the autumn of my ninth grade year things began to change. The day was like any other – a boy had been kicking the back of my heels between classes as I walked through the halls. Another had taken a gulp of water from the fountain and spit it into my hair. I sat with my head down during study hall, and finally the bell rang, giving us permission to board the bus. I sat in the middle so that I was close enough to the driver for safety, but far enough away not to be tagged as one of the dorks. I wasn’t one of the dorks, after all. I was the fag.

My dad forgot to pick me up at the bottom of the mountain, so I walked slowly uphill towards my house. I took the shortcut  through the woods, and my dog greeted me halfway there.  I walked into the house and found it was empty and quiet. As if a string was pulling me in the direction of my parent’s bedroom, I headed up the stairs. This time, my gaze was locked onto my father’s side of the closet. It was tidy. Each dress-shirt was perfectly ironed and organized by color. I reached above them and pulled a small wooden box from the shelf... (continue reading)

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Candygirl said:

Love your tattoo! ;)

Posted at: September 6, 2008 6:35 PM

Chad_Kosmos said:

I thoroughly enjoy this, and it's nice to know that there are other proud sissys. i thought i was the only one, you're story helped me feel better about my life. thank you.

Posted at: January 28, 2009 4:27 AM