Not only was I loved well in my church community, but I was loved well at home too. We Trapps were your typical middle-class family— simple house in a quiet neighborhood, church on Sunday, family vacations to the beach.
My dad, the patriarch, was strong, quiet, kind. I can’t remember him ever yelling at us, and the man wouldn't have said a cuss word if his life depended on it. Dad was big into sports, and he also coached our sports teams as kids. He went to the University of Alabama, and that's why, to this day, I'm a huge Alabama football fan. To me, it's the only team that matters in the only sport that matters, college football. Yankees and west coast folk probably think that's silly, but it's true.
One of the cool things about being a preacher is that people give you free stuff all the time.
And that's always how we got our tickets to Bama games. As a kid, we would get up early on Saturday mornings in the fall and take Highway 43 down to Tuscaloosa. On the way out of town, we'd stop at a gas station and dad would get a Yoohoo, and I'd get some Fun Dip. I always made fun of him for drinking that chocolate water. He'd laugh and take another sip.
I remember sitting in the passenger seat next to him as a kid—hairy dad arms on the steering wheel, smiling, crimson Bama hat propped on his head, sports talk radio on. Bill Trapp driving to a Bama game with a Yoohoo and a 60lb little Trapp boy next to him was his happy place. And for a little boy, eating pure sugar while sitting next to a happy daddy is about the safest place in the world. One of the main things kids need is to feel safe, and the world was very safe riding shotgun with dad.
Growing up, my mom was the yang to dad’s yin…different in many ways.
I’m like my mom in that we’re both emotional, passionate, expressive. She has a Master’s degree in education and taught 6th grade for a while. She is very brilliant—a wizard when it comes to making a point or telling a story in a vibrant, punchy way. Whatever skills I have with language, they come from her.
Mom's also very beautiful and can sing like a lark. When she was a teenager, she was Junior Miss for the state of Mississippi. And then she went on to place in the national America's Junior Miss pageant.
Mom always drove a big minivan to haul around her three rascal boys. I remember riding around town with her, too. Rush Limbaugh was always on the radio. I didn't know much about Bill Clinton, but Rush didn't like him, so I didn't like him...sounded like a scoundrel. I was a Republican by the age of 9, maybe 10.
Being a preacher's wife in the south was a sucky job sometimes.
People basically expect you to be perfect—smiling, quiet, submissive, supportive, nice hair. I guess if any woman was supposed to have it all together, it should be the preacher's wife. But mom always handled it like a boss.
When I was real little, I'd sit next to her on Sunday mornings. Our church was in a big gymnasium, white tile floors and basketball goals hanging overhead. Our family sat down front, on the right side. I've always liked having a back rub, and she jokes today about how, when I was 5 or 6, I'd look at her in the middle of dad's sermon, flash a little grin, then point to my shoulder. Knowing what that meant, she'd smile, pull me in close, and give me a little back rub as dad preached.
My mom is full of so much love, and I still love her very much.
I have two older brothers, Brady and Brian.
They each have two kids now and are both great men. Probably my earliest memory of them was back when we lived in Texas. Dad would instigate a wrestling match amongst the four of us. We'd roll around—tackling, grunting, laughing—on the shag carpet of our little Azle, Texas, ranch home. Dad would always pretend that we could take him. Brady was the biggest so he could knock dad around a bit, and Brian could get a few shots in as well. I was small and gangly—a little spider monkey amongst gorillas—so I couldn't do much damage. But I knew one surefire way to get the big guys' attention: pinching. I'd hang on the fringes and then swoop in like a tiny crab from hell. I'd scurry in, find the nearest butt, and give it a hard pinch. Inevitably, the unlucky owner of that butt would yelp in pain, "Oww! Daaddd!!! Brett's pinching again!"
"Breetttttt....you know not to pinch." Dad pretended to be mad.
I gave the brothers a smirk and took my place back on the sidelines.
Our home was a place of peace and filled with a whole lot of love.
Kindergarten through 3rd grade, I went to a small Christian school in Florence called Northwest Christian Academy.
The school was tiny, maybe 10 or 15 kids in each grade. It was housed in a church, a Charismatic church. When Christians call a church "Charismatic," they don't mean charismatic, as in, smooth-talking and charming. For Christians, Charismatic is sort of a loose term to describe a church that emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. These types of churches were VERY different from the Baptist one we attended.
For me though, Charismatic just meant churches that had massively oversized felt banners hanging on the sanctuary walls. And sequins...the Charismatics loved sequins.
They would use them to bedazzle a different name of God on each banner. As a kid, I was never sure what the Charismatics did with those banners. I had heard they would take 'em off the walls, put 'em on poles, and march around with them...chanting. I remember sitting in our weekly chapel service—day-dreaming and staring at those sequiny banners—while some guy with puppets taught a Bible story. I thought they were very pretty. We Baptists didn't have shiny things like that...we had budgets.
And the teachers at that school were all these super sweet, southern nurturing types.
I was going through some old papers recently and came across a two-page hand-written letter that my first grade teacher, Mrs. Harvey, wrote to my parents. She was reporting on my progress...
"The Lord used Brett to remind me of grace, using his humble honesty... Academically he is doing great and seems still motivated to do his best. I think he'd make a great story-reader or teller because of his knowledge of where to put the right expression...I want you to stay encouraged too, he's doing well."
- Sincerely in Christ, Mrs. Harvey
I can't imagine a teacher having the time to do that now. Being older, I realize what a special place that school was.
As a kid, I was wrapped in love on three sides—church, family, and school. What a beautiful blessing...I realize that now.
I loved that little school, but my time there ended after 3rd grade when I transferred to the local public school, Forest Hills. And it was a completely different world.
The hallways there were paved with cold, darkly colored tiles...not carpet. The ceilings were much higher. There wasn't any singing. The teachers walked a lot faster and seemed to have more on their minds. And the whole place smelled like jail food.
At Forest Hills, everything changed in 7th grade though. All the boys started getting interested in girls and the girls got interested in boys. And I got seduced into a very sacred Florence tradition... 👊
B.B.P.S - Here's a picture of that Sensenich Bros. propeller I mentioned in Episode 2.
B.B.P.P.S - Interesting story about the feature image for this episode...
I found it in a big box of old family photos. It's of me and dad digging in the sand at the beach. Then I noticed the weird ghostly trees in the background and realized it was a double exposure, which I assumed happened when they were processing it at the photo lab. Kinda neat...
B.T. Harman is the creator of Blue Babies Pink, a Southern Coming Out Story in 44 Episodes.
B.T. is a consultant, writer, and speaker living in Atlanta's historic Cabbagetown neighborhood. He was previously a vice president for Booster, an Atlanta fundraising company, where he helped the organization raise $150 million for elementary schools.
B.T. is passionate about storytelling, leadership, good design, Seth Godin, SEC football, Chick-fil-A, Taylor Swift, archaeology, European Travel and CS Lewis.
To learn more about B.T., visit his personal site at btharman.com.