Let’s give space to our stories
For me, like for many queer people I think, feelings often make sense only in hindsight. This was especially true during my teenaged closet days.
At the age of sixteen I landed in Washington, D.C. to live in a house with twenty-nine other young nerds who had willingly chose to spend their junior year of high school in the US Senate. One of the other students was a warm, goofy, very pretty and Very Christian girl from rural Michigan. We became close and after a couple months we were inseparable, prancing together around our nation’s capital. Her attention and compliments made me deeply happy; I chose to flee high school on the other side of the country in part because the program was Prestigious but mostly because I had felt scared and invisible at school. After the program ended I would visit the girl at her parents’ home in Michigan, again chasing that intoxicating new feeling of being Seen and Understood, this time during a balmy August by Lake Huron. Our story would have made a terrible movie because the juicy parts developed only years later inside my mind. While I was in Michigan that summer we laughed and ate and took pictures and that was it. I didn’t consciously feel a desire for anything more. Years later though I realized that these feelings for my friend constituted a crush. I wasn’t able to recognize it back then because a crush on a girl simply wasn’t an option, the same way that you don’t consider whether a koala would make a nice birthday present for your little sister.
If I could speak with myself then, this is what I would say:
Hey, good news, you get into the great college. You make the best friends imaginable. And guess what else, ten years from now, after the pain and triumph and awkwardness and glory of Coming Out, you will sneak away from the dance floor at your best friend’s wedding after giving a toast in order to kiss the groomswoman who you just met. We still don’t know what’s going to happen with her. But the important thing is that for you this act symbolizes your liberation. Feelings are still messy and complicated and confusing (this will never change) but now, you get to FEEL them. You get to act on them. You get all the glorious highs and heartbreaking lows, and it’s so much better than the not knowing until after it ends.
🦋 Los Altos, CA, USA
P.S. What have you learned since then that you’d like to share with others?
It gets better, and worse, and better, and beautiful, and ugly, and through it all you get to feel deeply because you are queer — this is a challenge and a gift, maybe the best gift you’ll ever receive.
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