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Where I Want to Be

Anonymous - LGBTQ+

Let’s pretend that you’re going skiing. The air is colder than you predicted. You start to stand up from the chair lift and look down the mountain. You can see the end, but it’s the journey that counts. You start going down faster and faster. Letting momentum take you. You drift to the left and to the right to avoid crashing into people. You finally gain your confidence and you’re having the best time flying down the mountain. Before you know it there’s a change in the way you move your skis. You lose control and right before you’re about to fall, not knowing what would happen afterwards, there’s a fear. Not like getting scared of a haunted house. Not the fear mixed with anger building up during a fight. But this feeling where you know you’re about to fall and you realize you can’t do anything about the outcome. It’s the fear and knowing that you’re guaranteed nothing.

That’s how it felt like to me, or is how I’m still feeling, when I’m ready to tell the world I’m gay but parts of the world isn’t accepting. In my house, I have my dad, my step mom, and a step sister who is a year younger than I am. There’s one specific memory that stood out between my step mom and step sister. I wanted to watch a popular movie about coming out and its powerful impact. My step mom didn’t know what it was about, and when I explained it to her she was so quick to say that she didn’t want to watch it. Why? The main plot was about two gay characters. It didn’t matter how delicate and thoughtful the story line was. She told me and her daughter that it’s unusual, she explained that more people were coming out as gay recently. What did she say when I asked her how? She told us that people just come out because they want to be a part of the so called “latest trend,” which she was referring to as being gay. The mood shifted when her daughter started defending gay people. They went back and forth but the main idea that I got out of the conversation was that she thought that being straight was the only option for people. Like you were driving on the same road for hours and all the other streets were blocked off, non-existent. It was as if I had already come out to her, and I had just fell face first into her reaction. The worst part of it all was that after the conversation I tried to look back at her words. I told myself that I’m straight because she told me I am and I just wanted to be like other girls. I wasn’t fully comfortable about figuring out I was maybe gay. This all happened when I was in 9th grade.

The year before that, 8th grade, I discovered more than I thought. I got the hang of middle school and being somewhat popular. I surrounded myself with people who wanted to change me. I tried to be normal and be what my friends wanted me to be. So I developed crushes for boys, multiple boys, because I wanted them to know that I was straight and I was normal just like everyone else. Towards the end of 8th grade, I was in a group project. One of my partners told me that she loves broadway. So did I. We talked more and more and I even got her number so we could text more often. The summer came and so did my first year of high school in a new town. We still texted periodically but we didn’t live close to each other anymore. In 7th grade, I had a crush on this baseball kid who wasn’t the kindest person. It lasted for a few months. I liked to share stories about the small interactions we had because it kept people from asking anything else from me. I have had multiple insecurities about my weight, what I look like, and my intelligence. The one thing I thought I could control was my sexuality. If I lost interest in a guy then I would find a new one. It wasn’t healthy, I knew that, but whatever it took to keep my friends from getting suspicious. During the summer, I watched more shows with queer representation and loved them. Suddenly high school was right in front of my door. Months passed by and I developed my first realization of a crush on a girl. We sat next to each other in history class, she was part of my school's debate team. I didn’t tell anyone what I was feeling, not even my best friend, who I tell everything to. What was supposed to be a fresh start in high school, just turned into me back in middle school. Boys were like my way of normalizing myself. I thought it worked until during lunch my friends were discussing their sexuality and how they’re all bi. I told them that I was too because I felt comfortable and it was being normalized at the lunch table. My friend laughed at me and told me I wasn’t. She said I was just trying to fit in with the table. She was wrong. I was trying to fit in with the majority. The majority that was straight. That’s the first time I told someone who my female crush was. My crush and I seemed to be gravitating towards each other. We even ended up sharing a folder during March and everything seemed to be going well. Until the pandemic hit and I had to stay home all the time.

So it was in June and a day before my birthday. I got a text from the girl I liked in 8th grade. She told me that she was currently dating someone. I asked her who. She told me she was dating a girl a couple towns away. I realized that I was focusing so much on fitting in that I completely blocked out any romantic emotion I felt towards girls. I blew that chance. It haunted me so much that after the new year I told her I liked her. She laughed and asked why I didn’t tell her. Why didn’t I tell her? I was always raised thinking that I needed to find a husband. My dad always told me that one of his goals is to live to see my grandchildren. My uncle always made sure to ask if I was dating any boys and to make sure they were treating me right. I had this wall in my head that enclosed me to only think about finding love in a guy. It’s not just my family. It’s the world that we’re in. The movies and social media are always advertising the perfect couple. The perfect couple is always a man and a woman. My dad told me that he wanted to make sure that I wasn’t gay by asking me, and I would tell him that I’m not gay. It got so bad where I didn’t want to be referred as a lesbian or gay or queer. Even though I knew I liked women. After I told my crush I liked her we stopped talking a lot. But to be honest we drifted apart after she got her girlfriend. A few weeks after I told her that I liked her I watched a movie, and one of the minor plot lines was about a woman in her 20s coming out. I paused during that part to get a snack. I reentered my room and heard the movie playing while my dad was on my bed with my dog. After he left I tried to be polite. I asked him if he wanted to stay. He said he didn’t want to watch a movie about lesbians and he walked away. The fear hit me again. It was so strong that I didn’t want to finish the movie and I didn’t want to watch anything involving lgbtq things. I was so ashamed of myself and that I let myself be so stupid as to almost letting my dad find out I was gay. During dinner he asked how the movie was. I told him I didn’t like it and I only watched it because an actor from one of my shows was in there. He said “oh”. The feeling of relief rushed through me. He just thought I didn’t know it was about a lesbian character, rather I just wanted to watch it because I recognized an actor I knew.

You’re all caught up with everything.

So am I fully comfortable with my sexuality? Yes I am. I’m happy with the conclusion I have come to. I told my close friends that I’m bi and I also told my cousin I am. My cousin is like my sister and I was comfortable with telling her because she had similar experiences as me, but that’s her story to tell, not mine. Am I ready to be fully out? Sadly I don’t think so. I worry about how people see so much. It feels like I’m suffocating not telling my dad or my mom, but at the end of the day I just don’t want to ruin anything with them. I’m proud of who I am but that doesn’t mean they would be. I don’t want to have the same mindset as them though. One thing that helped me was music. It’s my outlet where everyday I venture off in the lyrics of my favorite artist. She’s in the lgbtq community and it's the truth in her lyrics that lets me know that she’s not hiding herself. I shouldn’t have to hide. Anyone can love who they want because we’re all given our own choices to make, we don’t need to be criticized. As far as labeling goes, I identify myself as gay or queer. I look at all the people who have come out, and I am waiting for myself to have as much courage as they have. When I am ready I know that I get to be in the same place they are, which is exactly where I want to be.

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