Growing up I had a tremendous fear of men. For whatever reason, and reasons I’m still not certain, I was terrified of adult men. I struggled in elementary school to make friends with other boys, but once I did, the friendships became easier. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until middle school that I finally could feel comfortable around adult males. I attribute that to the care and compassion of the male teachers I had.
My sixth grade PE teacher, Mr. Burton, was one of those adults that really drove the fear out of me. At first glance, he was an intimidating character for an eleven year old. Yet, I remember him teaching a variety of sports with quietude, patience, and encouragement. That class and that year was a turning point for me because I then craved being around other guys. I was able to spend the night at a few friends’ houses, soaking in the adventure and the games we would play. With each success, I gain a little bit more confidence in my friendships.
I had numerous male teachers that inspired me, encouraged me, and developed me into a young man who worked hard, gained integrity, and took responsibility. They are quite a contrast to the man who took those things away from me by molesting me. He robbed me of innocence, confidence, and maleness that I was blossoming into. Masculinity is a powerful attribute and one that should be used to build up both girls and boys into the men and women who they desire to be.