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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.

I sat on the edge of their bed and removed the black pistol from the box, along with a bullet. The gun was loaded and I held it to my head as tears streamed down my cheek. I could smell my mother’s scent on the bed, and see my father’s ties hanging on his closet door.  My mind ping ponged between a longing for nurturing and understanding from my parents, and the torment of my school life. I imagined my funeral, what my family would be doing - crying and praying. I imagined what might happen if I failed, relegated to a life in a florescent-filled hospital room.

I put the gun back. My animals were outside crying to be fed, and so I ran outside to tend to them like I would have any other day.

Weeks passed, and the mountain was soon covered in white. The trees hung over the lane. The icicles flirted dangerously with scratching our cars.  I was allowed to skip school more often because of the dangerous driving conditions on the mountain, and one day I announced to my parents that I would quit at the end of ninth grade unless we could think of another option.

My parents reacted as they did to everything – with no visible emotion whatsoever, but with support and logic in their tone. “The school doesn’t provide college preparation,” my mother quipped, “we should look for another school.”  For the next few months, I toured other nearby schools with my parents. I was willing to try a Christian school, because I thought that maybe the kids would be nerdier, and therefore more accepting. In addition, I figured that their uniforms would help me to conceal my penchant for “city clothes.”  However, I soon learned that the Christian schools were very strict about whom they let attend – and my Lutheran parents were interrogated about their liberal theological philosophy. 

We decided the best choice would be for me to attend a public school about an hour’s drive from my home. Lewisburg High School was in a small, quaint college town. Heavily republican, but much more “refined.” The students knew what the GAP was, and there was even an active choir program.  The board of my first school eagerly approved my departure, and the board of the new school welcomed my arrival (they were going to make about $9,000 from the deal).  So for the next two years, my parents paid their taxes to my first public school, and a fee to my second.

I kept to myself, and quietly formed friendships with my cousin and her friends. I had someone to eat lunch with for the first time in years. They even let me talk about fashion and pop music with them! But the new school was not without its challenges. The jocks, and the hunters were still there – ready to pounce if I was ever in a group of less than two people.

On Valentines day, I was called to the office to receive my rose from a secret admirer. I knew when the boys started laughing that it was from them. When I returned to my desk there was a picture laying on it. A boy had drawn it just for me – a bloody deer head next to the words “Hunting is Life.”  My friend Jenny helped me draw a retaliation picture, a humorous spoof of a PETA ad, and we put it in his locker.  The next week there was a death threat on my car windshield.

Once I turned sixteen, I drove myself to and from school. I never went to any school dances, sporting events, or the likes. I preferred to get into my car, lock the doors, and turn on my music for the drive home to the seclusion of my mountain. At home, I devised a plan to “get out.”  I took my SAT and wrote an essay to Emerson College in Boston explaining my need for the safety of a diverse city life.  They accepted me into their school, and my parents accepted and supported my plan.

The first week of college in the “big city” was a total culture shock. The ruffling of leaves was replaced with sirens, and people screaming. The number of students in my dormitory rivaled the population of my hometown. Like many students, one of the first things I did was get wasted. I got drunk with some of the other students, and began to cry. I cried for four hours throughout the night. I mourned the trauma of my childhood, and I cried with joy for my escape. And by morning I was ready to create a new life for myself, one in which I would never return to live at home, and one in which I would keep my 8th grade promise to myself - that when I left our rural community, I would do everything I could to fight discrimination.

That Bostonian autumn was a beautiful one. It represented for me not just the onset of another season, but the potential for hope.  I attended a local training about how to share your life as an LGBT person to others. At the training people shared stories not too different from mine. A boy behind me told me about a support group in Boston for young LGBT People – BAGLY.

My first meeting at BAGLY was terrifying. It was the first time I had sat in a room filled with other gay people, not to mention gay people my own age.  My self-imposed androgynous cover of my feminity reared its ugly head. I can’t say I tried to be masculine because I knew from my failed attempts at sports that would be more disastrous than just staying under the radar. I was afraid to cross my legs in the men’s meeting. I did not talk much. When I did, I lowered my voice a little.. (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