I hate small towns, I thought to myself the other day, well actually for the past 4 years to be truthful. I have spent most of my life living in small towns with an occasional sojourn in the burgeoning metropolis of Hamilton. It was reinforced for me the other day when I was tagged in this post http://goo.gl/a43u09 it was tongue in cheek but it hit home. Like a lot of my posts they start with an idea and then I just let the words fall onto the page, but not this time, conflicted, confused (certainly not constipated) I cogitated upon just what I hate about small towns. As oft I do I came to the conclusion that I just don’t fit into small towns. Why you may ask well take your pick there are a lot of reasons but I think above all else, I am not a crowd pleaser, there is vey little in my life that fits into the aurea mediocratas , also known as the golden mean I don’t often sit in the middle.
Let me paint a picture for you, small town New Zealand is most often conservative save for a few exceptions. One is generally pigeon-holed by the sports you play, the alcohol you drink (or not), and if you wanted to paint a target on your back then express an interest in the arts. If you as a male sang, acted, danced you were labelled as gay, queer, a faggot, all the hateful insults that one can think of were hurled at you. Now the narrative of being labelled gay was hurtful, and that in and of itself is a whole story, but it was just another way for the bullies to dehumanise me (and all the other victims). Such dehumanising is part and parcel of the whole process that bullies through the ages have used. I used to think that my greatest sin was that I did not play rugby, but as I write this I have come to a different conclusion, you see even if I was a first 15 player, didn’t sing or any of the other things I still would have stood out and been a marked man.
My greatest sin was that I believed in something and I made public stands about what I believed in. I was generally polite and respectful, well read and mostly considered in my interactions with others, a classical nerd perhaps? I did all of these things because I enjoyed them, I enjoyed being polite, respectful, being of service. I also had a Catholic upbringing and a contemporary expression of an individual faith and relationship. I liked doing the right thing, I didn’t need external validation then and I don’t need it today.
If it could get any worse than it was already it did, my father was an active unionist and a supporter of a political party called Social Credit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit_Party_(New_Zealand), which for many people was a party of protest but for my dad it was about equality and justice which he linked with economic policy. In a small town like Morrinsville that was heretical, a pinko, commie liberal unionist as well as a funny money supporter. I was tarred with the same brush although I had no objection to being so tarred as I shared many of his views. However all of this came at a high cost, the constant bullying and harassment, calls from farmers making threats because of Union action, (my dad was in the Dairy industry). Being beaten up at school, they never really needed a reason, just that I was different. This oppression broke me for many years, I did not carry on with study although there was not a culture of tertiary study in our family. I had no self esteem and started looking for external validation.
I found my self seeking approval in the church, trying to do the right things say the right words, be conservative in my thinking and actions and painting a façade of goodness light and love where the reality was dark and dismal. I think at this point I will leave this post and follow it up as it is a lengthy narrative that I am retelling and I am probably losing some of my readers here.
I will end here by noting that I still live in a small town however many things have changed but not the overwhelming feeling of being trapped.
Till next time