Eighth grade was a difficult year. Between questioning my sexuality and fighting with my inner self every day I felt like I was about to explode any minute.
When it comes to coming out there are different ways to do it. Ask any out LGBT person and each of our stories will be different. Some come out to everyone all at once, some come out to friends first and then family or vice versa, some come out to some people to see how that goes and might come out to more people later, and then some are just kicked out. I decided to come out to people in waves, sort of how Google decided to change its navigation app in waves.
November 2004, election year. The battle was between George Bush and John Kerry. My money had been on Kerry. Not only did I think Bush was an idiot, I also knew that he supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Even though I was only 13 I knew even then that someday I wanted to get married and the person I’d marry was probably going to be a woman.
I remember the election had just ended and Bush had won. I was upset, as upset as any 13 year old could be at that time about a presidential election. I was talking to my best friend Niko, over AIM. Oh the days when people actually use to use AIM. Niko had just moved to New Mexico and we were still in that stage where we talked to each other pretty much every day.
Niko and I talked about the election, because of course that’s what any teenager would talk about. I was telling him how I wanted Kerry to win and then I thought to myself, “I should just tell him. I mean if he decides he doesn’t want to be my friend anymore it doesn’t matter because he’s in New Mexico and if he tells anyone I’ll just lie.” So then I did it. I told Niko that I was bi and that I didn’t like Bush because of his stance on same-sex marriage. Niko took it really well, at least I think he did. His response on AIM didn’t sound mad or upset. But like I said in an earlier post Niko would come out of the closet himself a few years later.
As you know from the previous post I was struggling that school year. Struggling with myself and those around me. As the school year continued the need to come out became stronger and stronger each and every day. I felt trapped and I felt like I had to tell someone or I would explode. Which led me to telling a second person that year, my friend Melisa.
Melisa became my best friend that year. Niko was gone, my other great friend pretty much left me in the dust, but Melisa was there. It was the type of friendship I loved and really needed at the time. We’d hang out at school, eat lunch with our little group, and would either talk on the phone after school or I’d ride my bike all the way to her house. Melisa was that rock I needed, which is the reason why I confided in her. I remember that afternoon pretty clearly. Melisa and I were having one of our usual talks, and at that moment I decided that I was going to tell her. However I decided to tell her in a…unique way…
“So I have something to tell you,” I said.
“Ok, go ahead,” she responded.
I took a deep breath. My heart started racing. “So you know how people are like shapes?”
“Well ya know, like most people are straight lines and some are circles. Well I’m a square.”
I took a deep breath, hoping she would understand what I was saying. “Ya know, I’m a square. I’m not a straight line, and I’m not a circle. I’m a square.”
Eventually Melisa caught on to what I was saying and when she realized what I was trying to say it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest, Seriously, I felt something physical when I came out to her. All the sudden it became easier for me to breath. I didn’t feel like I was being strangled anymore.
That day Melisa and I continued our conversation, she asked me who I liked and I told her. After that it pretty much became Melisa’s mission for me to talk to girls I liked. Looking back at those days now I realize that Melisa was probably the best wing woman I ever had.
So the school year continued, two people knew about my true self. As the school year continued I believe more and more people were starting to notice me and my non-love life. I was asked a couple of times if I was a lesbian and of course I would scoff and answer quickly with a strong “No”. It was the kind of “No” where it seemed like I was overly offended which then made it seem like I was obviously trying to hide something. I would then ask the person why they would ask me such a question and they would say they either heard it from somewhere else or other people. The rumors were starting, people were starting to catch on and any minute I was afraid that the wrong person would find out. Eventually the need to come out to someone else started to slowly overcome me which leads us to Christie.
So I’m going to say something that I’ve never really told a huge group of people, something that only certain individuals know. In middle school there was this girl and her name was (well is because she’s still alive) Christie and I had the hugest crush on her.
Christie at the time in my mind was my dream girl. She was cute, smart and nice to me. At that time not a lot of people were nice to me like Christie was and I’ll admit that’s one of the reasons why I fell for her. Christie was my middle school crush. From sixth grade all the way up to a certain point in ninth grade.
I’m sure she was suspecting something was up because I didn’t exactly keep it a secret. I always treated her differently than my other friends. I’d get nervous around her and either say something totally ridiculous or… something totally ridiculous. I’d try too hard to come off as cool or funny. Sometimes I would say something completely mean and uncalled for, just to try to make it seem like I didn’t like her as more than a friend. But I did like her. Not only was she my friend, not only was she my crush, but Christie helped keep me grounded in the 8th grade. During some of my darkest moments, my darkest hours I went to her.
I always wanted to tell Christie my secret. I think she’s the one I wanted to tell the most throughout middle school, but I was just so afraid. In my mind at the time middle school had a hierarchy. Christie and her closest friends were at the top while I was at the bottom. I saw myself as the loser the group needed.
Let me repeat by saying I’m the one who saw things like this. Christie and the other girls were nothing, but nice to me. But I was afraid to tell her. I was afraid that if I told her that I liked girls then she would figure out that I had a crush on her and that she would either disown me as a friend or even worse, tell others. And that’s not something I could have handle at the time. At the time I couldn’t handle losing her friendship. But towards the end of the school year I couldn’t handle keeping my secret from her anymore.
It was one of those afternoons where Christie and I were talking over AIM. I did something at the time that I would always do that was annoying and now looking back if I could travel back in time I’d punch 13 year old me in the face. I told Christie that I had something to tell her, but that I wouldn’t tell her until at a later time. Christie told me to just tell her now since we were already talking. I took a deep breath, which doesn’t make sense since I was talking to her over AIM. I told her that I wasn’t straight, that I liked girls. Her response of course was, “So you’re a lesbian?” And I said that I wasn’t a lesbian but that I was bi.
I don’t remember much of the conversation after that. I do remember Christie saying that it was ok. That she didn’t think any differently of me, that we were still friends. I don’t really remember us ever talking about it again for the rest of that year, but I think it’s because she knew how uncomfortable and scared I was. Christie and I don’t talk much anymore, due to the fact that I ended up moving freshmen year of high school and like a lot of friendships they fade over time and distance. But in my mind Christie is always going to be one of those people that kept me from the ledge in middle school.
I wasn’t done that school year. No, I had to come out to one more person. Someone I hadn’t planned on coming out to because I had just became good friends with that person earlier that year. Michael. Michael is one of the nicest guys I know. He was that smart, nice, funny kid that everyone liked. I don’t know a single person that ever said anything bad about Michael. He was the unexpected friend I made that year. He was like a brother to me. We had our inside jokes, fun moments in band and history. He the one guy that proved that not all the guys in middle school were complete assholes.
Like I said earlier, I really hadn’t planned on coming out to Michael. Me coming out to him was totally unexpected and on a whim. But this memory is the clearest I have of all of them. Michael and I were at 8th grade formal, the big end of the year dance. I was a slightly upset during the dance. One because the DJ pretty much refused to play any Good Charlotte and two, at this point my hormones were going crazy and all I wanted to do was dance with a girl.
This is not my middle school dance, but I assure you it looked something like this. Image via Dennis Vu/Flickr
I remember Michael asking me what was wrong and why I was upset and I didn’t want to talk about it. He kept asking, being the good friend he was, and finally I grabbed him by his shoulders and said, “I’m bi, I like girls.” Michael’s response was just, “Oh ok.” It didn’t even bother him, didn’t faze him. And I remember feeling that feeling again. That feeling that a huge rock had been lifted off my chest. That I was able to breathe a lot better now that I had told one more person. Michael was the first person since Justin and CJ that I told my secret to in person.
I ended middle school with a total of four people knowing my secret. That year was sort of a life changing school year for me. I was slowly but surely becoming the person I wanted to be. I was started to back away from the ledge and finally letting the world see who I was…