I said goodbye last week to a pretty important part of my life. I had been teaching at a school on the other side of the city for the past five years. It’s a wonderful school with wonderful teachers and wonderful students. I taught a lot of incredible kids there and got to know a lot of fantastic teachers. After five years – the longest I’ve been at one school so far in my career – I decided to try and find an assignment closer to home. I managed to land at a school much closer to home – about five times closer! Saying goodbye to my Queen Victoria school friends was hard, but I guess sometimes life makes the decisions for you. Being closer to home next year will mean more time with my kids before and after school.
This week has been a momentous one for LGBTQ rights in America. Here in Canada, same sex unions have been legal for a decade, something that makes me even more proud to be a Canadian. In my mind, I’d like to think that the types of people who have fought so hard to de-marginalize the LGBTQ community are the same types of people who would stand up for kids like Marshy who are different from most of society. I have had a few friends who I didn’t know were gay for years after first making their acquaintance. They kept that part of their life a secret for fear of ostracization and hate. I don’t blame them. As liberal and welcoming as we Canadians like to think of our beautiful country, we still have a lot of work to do. I’ve got the Marshmallow in my arms right now, and looking at his beautifully delicious cheeks and fused fingers, he’s not going to be able to keep his Apert a secret. For him, I wish for a welcoming and loving society that will wrap its arms around him and keep him safe.
Game of Thrones is a hugely popular show right now and although I am not a fan, I have felt compelled to watch for fear of ridicule. I actually find it a bit boring – 50 minutes or so of boredom followed by a final 5-minute roller coaster ride. Still, I love Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister, the most interesting character of the show. I’ve been a fan of him (the actor, not the character) for quite a few years now, ever since I saw him in The Station Agent, a wonderful little 2003 film. Both that film and his current starring role make frequent reference to his stature. It makes me so happy to see how successful he has become, but I also shake my head when I think of just how difficult his childhood must have been. I’m guessing at all of this. I suppose I could do a quick Google search and maybe find out that his childhood was amazingly free from bullying, but I would have a hard time believing it unless he grew up on Mars. When’s the last time you saw a new television star who wasn’t a typical tall, conventionally handsome/beautiful white person?
Remember that early 1990s rap hit “I Wish” by Skee-Lo? I loved that song. Everyone loved that song about wanting to be taller. It was silly, it was safe, and it was fun. I imagine Peter Dinklage hearing that song on the radio one day while he walked down the street in New Jersey. He would have been in his mid-twenties, his theatrical career already started. Through the headphones of his Walkman, the DJ plays this new hit. As the first line – “I wish I was a little it taller” – hits his eardrums, Peter stops in the street. People were already staring at him, but now the blank look on his face makes him even more noticeable. He knows people are going to tease him about the song. Some idiot is going to see him walking down the street one day and pull up along side him, cueing up the song on his tape deck, thinking this action will be some sort of tribute to him. And yet, this was probably just one of thousands of bumps in his road to success, just another possible source of ridicule, just another weapon people could use to keep him down. In the end, Peter Dinklage won.
If anyone knows Peter Dinklage, tell him the next Tyrion Lannister is in my arms right now. I hope he doesn’t shoot me with a crossbow when he grows up.