Monday, October 11, 2010

MY COMING OUT STORY (THE VERY-ULTRA-SUPER-ABRIDGED VERSION)

I never really got a chance to come out.

I was outed.

I was a cheerleader, at the top of my class, played volleyball and basketball, competed in U.I.L., was in the band, the National Honor Society, and dating a quarterback (or two).

I loved school. Loved my little one-blinking-light hometown. Loved my family, despite all our faults. Struggled with my weight. Hated my skin. Could never find a hairstyle that suited me. And couldn't wait to go off to college.

I loved my friends. And had a few different circles. Sometimes we were catty. But mostly we were inseparable, and we drank way too much really bad beer at parties on the weekends.

Just. Like. Everyone. Else.

And then she kissed me. Or maybe I kissed her. I don't even remember anymore. The next few years after that are partially blurred, mostly blocked out, with some bright and shining moments of joy and adventure.

I was 15 at the time. She was a freshman.

Someday I'll write the whole story. But for today, it's about the coming out. Which, looking back now, was actually a very long, drawn out, painfully slow process. But for the purposes of this post, was the moment we heard our names over the loud speakers at school, being called to principal's office.

He had in his hands a copy of a notebook, our notebook, a little spiral-bound notebook in which we'd copied lyrics of songs for one another. Our names were on it, in swirls and doodles, most likely with hearts and rainbows and clouds encircling them. We were young. We were in love. It was the sweetest, cheesiest thing you can imagine.

And that was it. That was all it was. We weren't destroying religions. Or recruiting children. Or tearing down heterosexual marriages with our bare gay hands.

We were kids ourselves. And suddenly thrust into the spotlight.

The notebook had been stolen from one of our lockers and xeroxed. The sheets had been passed around the school for everyone to see. And although I'm certain it never happened, in my mind they were falling from the rafters, like snowflakes, all over the student body as they passed through the hallways. And although I'm sure it never happened, I can hear them all laughing and pointing, in slow motion, as they spin around me and I dizzy from the mortification.

Our families were called. Of course. They had to be warned. But I couldn't tell you what that conversation with my parents was like once we got home. That, too, is blocked out.

The rest of my high school career is now buried beneath alcohol binges and lies, sneaking and hiding, suppressing and repressing. Every single moment demanding I take a stand. Are you one of us? Or are with her? And I failed so miserably, so many times, on all sides. Failed my parents, failed my brother, failed my aunts and grandmothers. Failed my friends, failed acquaintances, failed my boyfriends, failed my teachers and coaches. Failed my girlfriend.

But mostly, I failed myself.

There was no one in my town that I felt I could turn to. No one like me. No one to tell me that it would get better. Hell, as far as I knew, no one had ever been openly gay before. Not in my town. Not anywhere near my town. Not ever. But some time after I found myself sitting in the hallway of the home I grew up in with my father's rifle at my side, things began to change. For me, first and foremost. And then, eventually, for everyone else. But, no, of course it never should've gotten to that point. And looking back now, it's easy to see how many things I could've done differently.  But, then again, maybe not.

Because the point of this post is just this. It IS exactly like a band-aid. Because the wounds and scars and pain you cover up today just can not begin to heal until you pull it off. It needs to breathe fresh air. It needs to see the light of day. You're exactly who you were meant to be. You're the most perfect iteration of you. Ever. But until you allow yourself to be the best YOU that you can be, no one else around you gets the opportunity to prove that they can be the best they can be.

So, come on and say it. Out. Loud. You're stronger than you think you are.  You have more support than you could ever imagine. And it's time.

Happy National Coming Out Day!
...

4 comments:

Sonia said...

I can't even go there... (especially not this morning with jet lag, 5 hours of sleep and only 3/4 of a cup of coffee in me).

Michaela said...

Thank you for sharing your story - while it was disheartening, it is very meaningful and I'm sure many can relate.

JO ANNA GUERRA said...

@Sonia: I know, Chiquita.

@Michaela: Thanks for the support. I do hope so.

Jamie said...

Of course I've heard this story before--more than once--but it gets me every time. I have had my share of difficult moments, but I can't imagine experiencing what you did at so young an age, in such a small town, and with the status you had achieved up to that point. I can certainly see how that experience would be life altering...