John teaches Grade 11 at a high school in a big city. He has worked in the school since he first graduated from teachers’ college 3 years ago. John is gay and he has never told any of his colleagues. Because he is only 25, his colleagues assume he is not dating a woman because he has not yet fallen in love. They tease him good-naturedly about other young, female staff members and on Monday mornings, they often ask him if he dated anyone over the weekend.
Because of his “secret”, John has never felt comfortable with his colleagues. He always feels out of place at work and avoids talking about his personal life in any way. He is always afraid that if he opens up a little, he will let something slip. His colleagues think he is just shy and maybe a little too serious.
Recently, John met someone and has started dating. John is very excited about his new boyfriend and thinks he has fallen in love. John and his boyfriend see each other every weekend and talk every night on the phone. At work, it is increasingly difficult because he is so often put on the spot by his colleagues’ friendly teasing. He has found that more and more, instead of just smiling and laughing along, he actually has to lie about his weekends to cover up his new relationship. His stress level is mounting and he is increasingly uncomfortable at work.
The school year ends and John spends a beautiful summer traveling with his boyfriend. For the first time in his life he is feeling comfortable expressing himself openly as a gay man. As the summer winds to an end, John anticipates the beginning of the new school year with trepidation, knowing it will be much more difficult for him to stay in the closet and hide his identity.
When John walks into the staff room on the first day, he finds that a new teacher has joined their staff. Nadia is an experienced and confident teacher who recently moved to the community with her partner. Nadia quickly charms the staff with stories of her family – her spouse Rita and their three children – and their efforts to settle into their new home and community. John quietly watches the reactions of his colleagues as they discover that Nadia is a lesbian. He can see that they are initially startled and hesitant, but seem to be able to put it aside and adapt to their new colleague.
The next day, John approaches Nadia during a quiet moment in the staff room. He tries to downplay it as he tells Nadia about his summer vacations with his boyfriend. Their eyes meet for a second and John can see that Nadia has understood that he is also gay and has felt isolated. As the days progress, John and Nadia get to know each other and John feels stronger and stronger. Eventually he finds the courage to casually mention his boyfriend during a conversation in the staff room one day. He can see some of his colleagues gulp and look down but they quickly move on.
John and Nadia talk about approaching the principal and asking her to bring in a facilitator from a local community group to offer anti-homophobia training to the staff.