By Eric Ramer
I’ve seen a lot of my friends post about their experiences growing up in Santee, and I feel like it’s time I share mine. I was born and raised in Santee, I had a pretty normal childhood for the most part, that was until I hit junior high and high school.
My sexuality was always a very weird subject for me, I knew I was different but I was scared and afraid to come to terms with being gay. “That’s gay” or “you’re a faggot” we’re common terms thrown around at my school that had negative connotations behind them, so of course I was not gonna come out skipping and happy go lucky, I was terrified. It got really bad my 8th grade year, I remember coming home and going on my computer to check my Myspace and I saw I had a new friend request, I click the page and it’s a page saying “Eric is a Faggot”. They posted my cell phone number to the public saying absolutely disgusting things. I was in 8th grade, let that sink in, I was terrified people would find out, Who would want to be friends with the gay kid? These thoughts and more were racing in my mind. I was so embarrassed and ashamed for a long time of who I was and hid it as best as I could. I responded to the page saying we called the cops and they are tracking the IP address and luckily they took the page down, but by that point the damage was done and whoever made the page was successful in what they were trying to do.
Meanwhile, during this time Prop. 8 was going on. I saw a lot of true colors from parents I thought cared for me, but they didn’t want me to get married to a man even if I loved him? Why? I remember seeing the signs in their front yards so clearly “Yes on Prop. 8, protect marriage” I remember just wanting to hide even more who I was because I didn’t want to disappoint them. Fast forward to the summer after my freshman year, I was in summer school and I lived right down the street so I walked everyday. Because of my dark hair and tan skin I was commonly mistaken as being Hispanic. I remember one morning walking to school and a group of guys were driving down the street with a megaphone and when they saw me they yelled “Beaner!” and threw a handful of change at me. I remember thinking “Well jokes on you I’m not Mexican” but then I started thinking what if it wasn’t me they did that to, what if it was someone who was actually Hispanic, imagine the damage it could of done to that persons self-esteem. My high school experience wasn’t all bad until I joined cheerleading. I had quit my high schools lacrosse team to be on the cheer team. A huge 180 of sports if you ask me. That’s when the bullying got bad again, I remember walking down one of the hallways in between classes and hearing someone yell faggot. I remember just feeling so tired and discouraged from it all. I got made fun of constantly for being on the cheer team, constant remarks and little jabs made by some of the football players during their game, not all of them but some. I denied all allegations, because in my mind I knew I could just deny, deny, deny like I always had been and can deal with what people would say, but thinking about coming out and how I would be treated after that was far scarier because it was unknown territory for me. I’m thankful I surrounded myself with good people in high school who taught me to understand that their opinion of me means nothing. For that I will forever be grateful. The cheer world was what saved me, I found a group of people who accepted all walks of life, who looked past skin color and sexual orientation and loved everyone for who they are on the inside.
I think it’s important that we share our stories to learn and grow and to understand that it’s our responsibility to teach everyone to be more compassionate and accepting of others. That is why I will continue to fight for equality for all, my hope is one day no child will have to grow up and go through the same experiences I did. Until then I will spread love and acceptance to all.
Eric Ramer resides in Santee.