It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that someone pronounced my name correctly without being advised on how to say it.
It was my German I class, and my teacher was Dr. Krupp. It was strange, but refreshing, to not have a mini panic attack when the teacher was calling roll. I always knew to just say “here” once the teacher paused and vehemently squinted their eyes at the attendance sheet and looked up apologetically. I did enjoy that luxury, but disliked the school overall, so I transferred after that year.
After that, I went back to requesting being addressed by my last name: Laurent. I don’t know exactly what it is about my first name, but no matter how many times I would tell someone those two little syllables, they’d find ways to butcher it. I would say GeChonne, pronounced “guh-shawn” in English (although “geh-shone” was closer to its correct cultural pronunciation, and I did prefer it), and they’d give me a “guh-cho-nay” in reply. Where that third syllable came from, I don’t know, but everyone was always able to find it but me. I wasn’t young anymore, so I no longer hated my name. My culture was something that I got and I accepted the fact that other people just wouldn’t get it the way I did.
It wasn’t until sophomore year of high school that I took writing seriously. I was at a new high school, and had long been tired of participating in the visual and performing arts.
There just comes an age where you start being honest with yourself.
As an actor I was mediocre, much too stiff, and not passionate about it. As an artist, although I might’ve been considered good when I was younger, my skills were much too juvenile past an elementary level. As a singer, while I loved it so much as a kid, I just did not have the juice. Or the drive. Or the charisma. Holding a note isn’t the same as having talent, and that’s ok. Singing did heal me of my stuttering speech impediment, but I’m convinced that was its purpose, it served it, and it was time for me to move on.
So I moved on to writing. I was always decent at it, but no kid likes to write for fun. From writing I delved into spoken word, so I was still very much being heard, just more so on a personal level. It’s amazing because I always viewed writing as a quiet craft, but it spoke way more for me than any other endeavor I ever pursued did. I didn’t have to tell people my name anymore, because they just knew. Both my first and last. And my last name isn't the only pretty one. My first name is just as beautiful, and therefore should be said as well, and correctly.
I now teach people to say my name the way it rolls off of my father's tongue.