THE QUIET ONE

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The one who keeps his distance, growing up with a secret, and why it is important to find your spot under the rainbow.

By JASON MASEKO

Growing up, I was always the quiet boy. In class, I was the kid who rarely had his hand up, and in my neighbourhood, I was that boy who watched his friends play from my seat on the pavement. As other kids shouted out answers, or ran for a ball, I’d sit and watch, present but so afraid to participate. 

Today, pop culture calls shy, quiet, distant kids like me the boy next door. The term comes with its own endless definitions, from the pretty boy across the street to the reserved but brilliant kid sitting in the corner of the classroom. But, missing from each of these definitions are the reasons we keep ourselves at a distance. At such a young age, I didn’t have any words for it, but now it’s clear: I kept myself away because of that age-old fear of being seen for who I am. And on top of that, being judged for it. 

As mysterious and distant as we are, boys next door are really just boys who weren’t given the chance to be themselves.
Being the gay black kid, it isn’t difficult to see why. I grew up in a relatively intolerant home…

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