I sit up at my desk, glance at him, then put my head down. Embarrassment and shame floods my mind. Fear chokes my throat, and tears appear in the corners of my eyes. There was no reason for it, really. Irrational shame and irrational fear. Of course, from the ages of 9 to 11, I wasn’t the most rational person. Even in the most progressive of families, the prospect of being queer brings fear to a child.
My parents are some of the most accepting people I know, but the concept of anyone knowing was unthinkable to young me. I could barely understand myself, and I was the one experiencing it. I had my first crush in the fifth grade, not that I was aware of it at the time. He was tall and had nice hair, and I was mean to him. The whirlwind of emotions that had been swirling around my head for years could only get out through anger. I resented him because I liked him, and I didn’t even know it yet. He was sweet and smart, and I didn’t understand what that meant to me.
Since then, I’ve matured. I realized my own identity, which made the whole situation all the more embarrassing. I also realized that the people around me really didn’t care, although that took a little more time to process. I came out to my best friend at the time the following summer, then a couple others. But I trusted her more than anyone else, and she knew before my own parents. Not that they didn’t know already. I had done things before that had hinted at it, and they never put any pressure on me.
My parents readily accepted my identity. It was not like how it is shown in the media, for me at least. There were no tears, no arguing. I put a note in their room while my mother slept (my father was at work), and she just called me in when she found it. Amusingly enough, she asked me if I had any questions. I don’t remember how my dad responded, but both essentially couldn’t care less.
Since seventh grade, I have been openly and proudly queer, more or less. It wasn’t exactly by choice though. Nobody had outed me, but my personality was enough for most people to assume. My voice might’ve even tipped people off. I’ve met others like me in the years since then, and they are invaluable to me. My best friends, my support network, my community. It helps to be surrounded by other queer people. They give me a sense of community, a shared culture, and a feeling of solidarity.