These days gay and lesbian youth are coming out younger and younger because the world is changing. No longer is being a homosexual looked at as a mental disorder, at least by the majority of the general public. Reparative therapy is looked at as a crazy and ineffective way of trying to “change” someone. A majority of the American public now approve of same-sex marriage. But think back to 13 years ago. 13 years ago there wasn’t a single state in America that legalized same-sex marriage, however Vermont did legalize civil unions. 13 years ago anti-gay camps were still popular. 13 years ago I decided to come out of the closet, the FIRST time.
There are different stages of coming out. The first stage is always coming out to yourself. How can you possibly come out to other people if you haven’t first come out and accepted yourself? Well I went through that stage while still trying to learn why I couldn’t eat my boogers.
The second stage is usually when one chooses to come out to a close friend. If you ask many gay people will tell you that they came out to a close friend first before coming out to their parents or family. At the age of eight I decided to go through the second stage. I decided to come out to a couple close friends.
Now at this point of my life I realized that it was exactly “normal” for me to like girls, at least according to society. I was actually starting to learn that if you were different in any way that you weren’t allowed to belong. That bullies had the right to tease and torment you and that no one would save you. At this point of my life I was starting to realize that maybe my parents were lying when they told me that it was ok to be different, that being different made me special. Unfortunately at this age my male classmates were starting to realize that they liked girls and my female classmates were starting to realize that they like boys, all while I was feeling like a loner since my feelings for girls was continuing to grow, but I knew I couldn’t tell anyone because at this age I had figured out that liking girls wasn’t “normal” after all.
I remember her name, I remember what she looks like, and I even remember what her voice sounds like. But looking back at it now I fail to remember why I even liked this girl. This girl’s name is Desiree. We were in third grade together. She was the first person I ever talked to in the third grade, which might explain my infatuation with her. Desiree wasn’t the nicest girl. She wasn’t even the cutest girl or the smartest girl. In fact I was the smartest girl in class that year but it didn’t matter because she was the girl I liked. She was the girl I wanted to share my first kiss with. She was the girl whose name I uttered when I came out to my two best friends.
Justin and CJ, were my two best friends at the time. Justin now lives in Florida, is part of a fraternity, and openly gay (something I saw happening even when we were eight). I don’t know what happened to CJ but hopefully he’s somewhere living the dream and happy. Not only did Justin, CJ, and I go to the same elementary school, we also all went to the Youth Center before and after school. These were my two buddies, my two amigos. They had my back and I had theirs. I felt so comfortable around these guys, so safe, that I wanted them to be the ones I told about my secret crush.
It was on a field trip to the skating rink, a field trip that the Youth Center took us on almost every other month. Justin, CJ, and I were sitting in a booth by ourselves eating pizza. I don’t know why but I felt like I had to tell them. I felt like I was keeping this secret that was just eating me from the inside. I felt like it wasn’t fair that others could say who their crushes were and I couldn’t say who mine was just because she was a girl. So I decided that it was time to do it. The conversation went something along these lines:
Me: So I like someone.
Me: …Well you know this person.
CJ is still eating his pizza, not even really caring about the conversation.
Justin: Well who is it?
Me: Well this person was in your class last year.
I took a deep breath.
Me: I like Desiree. Desiree (last name)
Justin: Oh, ok.
They didn’t blink; they didn’t spit out their food or anything and look at me with disgust. Honestly they acted like it wasn’t a big deal. We just continued eating our pizza and then went back to skating when we were done.
At the time I remember thinking, “Wow, I actually just told someone I like girls.” Looking back on this memory makes me firmly believe that children or not born prejudice, or homophobic. We aren’t born with this pre-setting of hate in our heart. The fact that at the age of 8 my two close friends didn’t care that I was a girl who liked another girl once again proves that children don’t see anything wrong with someone loving someone else, no matter the gender. Because at this point in our lives we had not quite learned that only “straight” relationships were allowed. Actually at this point I didn’t even know what the word “gay” meant.
So at the age of eight I knew I liked girls and I actually told people. It was a big step for me, a step I’ll never forget. Unfortunately I didn’t stay that strong as I continued to grow up. Eventually the fear of being outed and the questioning of my sexuality kept me in the closet for five more years.