John Myers is a favorite among many Yahoo! Network Contributors. In this interview, details some of the passions in his life including music, sports and writing. He offers his insights on some difficult subjects. He speaks about his career as a teacher, a profession that has lately come under heavy fire. In addition, he fields questions regarding his life as a gay man. Though you may not agree with everything John says in this interview, if hasn’t already, I believe at its conclusion he will have earned your respect.
1. Are you a teacher by profession?
Yes, it’s my main source of income if that’s what you mean.
2. What do you teach?
I teach ESL, that is, English as a Second Language. It’s my job to teach kids that don’t speak English to speak, read, write and understand it.
3. Is this in a private or public school?
I teach in a public school here on Long Island.
4. What do you think about what is happening in Wisconsin and other states with regards to teachers, unions and budgets?
That’s a tough one! I’ve only been a teacher for 8 years and in that time I’ve become very defensive when it comes to my profession. I think that the average person has a lot to say about it because they feel they pay our salaries, at least here in New York. The average person who does not know a teacher personally thinks that teachers have it easy, with short days and lots of vacation time. Believe me, that’s not the case at all. I work 12 months out of the year because I don’t make enough money to last out a summer vacation. Of course there are good and bad people in every profession and in one way or another, we all pay everybody’s salaries. With all the so called “importance” towards education, there’s an awful lot of complaining about teacher salaries and cutting school budgets, which makes no sense to me. Teacher’s educational requirements are stringent and should be akin to the education a doctor, a lawyer, or maybe even an architect, yet we typically earn far less money than any of the people in those other professions. We are tasked with educating our youth, a very important role in society, yet we are treated with vitriol and cost cutting. No one blinks when a lawyer charges $150 an hour for consultations, but God forbid if a teacher makes $100 grand a year. I think our true priorities are wacked.
Was that enough, lol! Sorry if I got off on a soap box.
5. When did you know that you wanted to be a teacher and what were your reasons for wanting to pursue that profession?
Well, I had a former 15 year career in banking, which I grew to hate, and at the age of 35 I decided to quit. At the time I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I went to my local university to grab one of their course catalogs. I perused their programs, making lists of all the things I thought I’d want to do. I narrowed the list down to teaching ESL specifically. I guess you could say I had an awakening of sorts in recognizing my own talents and likes, and I found a career that melded the two.
6. What was it about your banking career that you grew to hate?
The selling! When I first started in the bank, I was a teller. Through the years I worked my way up to manager and with each step it became clearer that every person that came in front of me I was expected to sell them something, whether they needed it or not. It became so bad that at one point I wasn’t allowed to help anyone who came in with a question or a problem. I was made to have them use a service phone in the lobby for their help even though they made their way to the bank to get it. I remember a specific customer, an older woman who had an error on her checking account. Even though the bank wasn’t busy, I had to walk her over to the phone for help because if I helped her I’d be wasting the bank’s time.
7. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I was in the 10th grade. I kept a journal as a kid and I even had a notebook where I wrote down reviews of the books I had read.
When I started writing for then AC, I did it because I felt a calling to do so, to be heard. Over the years I’ve gained readers, fans, and respect for my writing and I think I’m getting better at it, too!
8. Was Associated Content, before it was purchased by Yahoo!, the first site that you published your work online?
Yes, I’m sorry. Actually Helium was the first site I’d written for, but soon afterwards I found Associated Content and felt it was a better fit for me.
9. Currently, do you write for other online sites or do you stick to publishing on Yahoo! Contributor Network?
I write for Examiner, as well, and occasionally some pieces for Textbroker, but the Yahoo Contributor Network is my primary medium for writing.
10. How do describe your overall experience with the Yahoo! Contributor Network?
I simply love it, the latest glitches notwithstanding. With the Yahoo Contributor Network, I have the freedom to write what I want and gain an audience for what I put out there. What more could any writer want?
11. Have you been satisfied or disappointed since Yahoo! took the reigns?
I’d say neither at this point. Yes, like I said before the glitches throughout so far have been an annoyance, but overall I think the change is an exciting one and I hope for bigger and better opportunities as the site grows with Yahoo.
12. Do you have an opinion about the site’s forum?
Yes…I’m not liking it too much. I was never much of a forum poster. As a part time writer, I simply don’t have any to spend in the forums, although I have on occassion. The last few times I went there, I had a hard time finding a thread on the topic I was looking for. It’s happened more than once and I found it hard to believe there wasn’t one already on the topic I was searching for. I think it was just harder to find, so I just gave up.
13. You don’t shy away from who you are so can you field some gay questions or should we not go there.
No, that’s fine with me!
14. When people read your work, it is apparent that you are gay. When did you discover that you were gay?
Ooh, that’s a tough one! I guess I actually realized it at about the age of 17 or so. I learned later on that it was there all along, but because of society and its so called norms, I suppressed it.
Without going into details, I can remember things from when I was as young as five or six that tell me I was always this way.
15. Once you realized who you were, did you resist it for awhile or did you embrace it and just move forward?
I’d say the latter. At the time, I was in my first year of college and had had a girlfriend for two years. Being away from her lead me to come to terms with who I really was.
16. Did your being gay lead to any friction between you and any of your family members?
No, not really. Once they all found out, the topic was kept mum and I layed low for awhile, staying away from family functions and stuff. Eventually, once I began a long relationship with a special person, it became a total non-issue with them. They loved him as if he were part of the family and now since he’s gone they still all love me the same.
17. What, if anything, is the hardest thing about being gay?
I’d say just the fact that it’s still such a hot button issue in the general society, and as such it’s the one stereotype that’s still okay for a lot of people to harbor and treat with disrespect. I’m lucky, though, and the ones younger than me are even luckier because it’s more a part of everyday life now than it ever was before.
18. From your writing, it is clear that you love music. Has music always played an important part of your life?
That’s a big YES! Music has always been an integral part of my life, present for all of the moments, good and bad. Music to me is a source of reflection, escapism, and pure joy!
19. Is there any genre of music that you do not like?
There is definitely something in every type of music that I find pleasing, but if I had to choose one particular type it would be opera, lol!
20. You are a sports fan aren’t you?
Yes, you know it, although lately I’ve been too busy to keep track like I used to.
21. What sports are your favorites?
Hands down, my absolute favorite sport is hockey. I love the NY Rangers!
22 . You said that you live in Long Island. Did you grow up in New York City?
I was born in the Bronx and moved out here when I was almost 8 years old. After high school, I moved back to the Bronx for about a year and a half. I’m actually hoping to go back to the city to live very soon.
23. Have you ever attended a New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders hockey game?
It’s funny you asked me that. Every year, my Christmas gift to all of the members of my family is a ticket to a Rangers game. All seven of us, and some close family friends, are big Rangers fans. This year, for the first time, I was able to score tickets to a Ranger/Islander game at the Garden in March, but because of a mix up, I’m the only one that won’t be going. I once went to a game between the two teams years ago at the Nassau Coliseum, and all I can say is that it was CRAZY!
24. Are you or were you a fan of Nick Futiu?
Wow…I haven’t heard that name in a long time! Yeah, I loved the guy!
25. Who would you say your favorite New York Ranger player of all time is?
Ooh, it’d have to be Mark Messier. He brought the Cup to New York and I’ll always remember that!
26. I believe you have a special fondness for the New York Jets. Is this true?
Yes, long suffering fan!
27. Were you saddened with the way their season ended this year?
Of course…as a lifetime Jets fan, I expected the worst and by the end of the first half I knew!
28. Next year is the year though right?
Right! (he says sarcastically!) I think that’s why I don’t follow sports as closely as I used to. I hate the disappointment! (Luckily I’m also a Yankee fan, so I’m also spoiled!)
29. Who is your favorite all time player for both the New York Jets and the New York Yankees?
Hmm, good question. For the Jets I’d say Richard Todd and for the Yanks it’s have to be Derek Jeter. He absolutely rocks all the way!
30. Without worrying about hurting my feelings, what was your opinion of the page view races?
LOL…well, they got a lot of people excited at the time and I enjoyed watching. For me personally,, I’ve never really had a competitive spirit, especially since I don’t always have a lot of time to write and compete with so many great and prolific writers out there, so I went along primarily for the fun.
31. What articles of yours on the Yahoo! Contributor Network would you most want people to read of yours?
My favorites are the ones about everyday life, ones I like to call “social commentary.” They’re always fun to write and usually they strike a chord with those who read them. Pieces like, Invasion of the Mens Department: Who’s to Blame? and my recent one about Weight Watchers: In the End It’s Still a Diet come to mind. My articles about my dad and his death are probably the most heartfelt pieces I’ve ever written, and so they are definitely worthy. Tribute to a Father: Part I and Tribute to a Father: Part II. Of course, many of the pieces I’ve done on gay issues all make for good reads, including my series with Becky Whitmore, Understanding Homosexuality a Respectful Dialogue of Opposing Viewpoints: An Introduction. The journal of my breakup with my ex, Diary of the Break Up of a 20 Year Relationship: Part I and the pieces I like to call, The Gay Mans Single Files: Part I , which are about my experiences at being single suddenly at the age of 43. The Johnny Driver series, Collected Works: The Misadventures of Johnny Driver, Season 1 and Collected Works: The Misadventures of Johnny Driver, Season 2 is another one I’m very proud of and I think more people would like it if they took the time to read it.
32. Is there anything else that you would like to add to this interview?
Actually no…it’s been a really nice interview, much different than ones I’ve done in the past. I enjoyed it and I’ll probably think of something else once we disconnect, but that’s life, lol!
John Myers Yahoo! Network Contributor Page