Gay Voices (The Huffington Post)
January 10, 2013

I'm a big believer in positive reinforcement. When I was in sixth grade, my teacher talked me into signing up for the basketball team that he coached. I was lousy, but he kept a patient eye on me, corrected me when I was wrong and instilled in me both the belief that I could do better and the desire to do so. The next fall, when I entered seventh grade, I signed up for basketball once again, and just between us, I was still pretty lousy. But my new coach was a different breed than my former coach had been, and he had a completely different philosophy. Instead of encouraging me and reminding me what I'd done right, he derided me and criticized me in front of my fellow teammates. Eventually, shamed and humiliated, I left the team -- and ultimately the game altogether.