Monday, September 14th
Student council election results came out today. I didn't run. I didn't even vote.
I'm trying to convince myself that I don't care. That's not easy, I really really care. I want to be on the student council. I should be on the student council.
It would have been stupid to run for student council. I would have lost, and I would have been humiliated. So why should I care who did get to run, and actually gets to sit on the council?
Emily Bernstein and Mariah Shillaber are the 10th Grade representatives. Here's what I think:
- They're both smart. (I am too.)
- They're both responsible. (I am too.)
- Neither of them are good leaders. (I am.)
- Both of them have boyfriends. (I don't.)
- Neither of them had “DYKE” scrawled across their locker the second day of school.
It shouldn't bother me this much. There are stupid people in the world.
I'm still in debate club, and I'm playing soccer, both because of Abby. She pointed out that debates wouldn't be in front of the school, and she said if I would try out for soccer in the fall, she'd try out for softball in the spring. So at least I don't feel like a complete slacker. I never thought I could turn into one of those people who just goes home from school and turns on the tv and does nothing. Now I think I might turn into one, if it weren't for Abby. I'm so glad she's my friend. She reminds me who I am.
It's still bothering me. I hate that word. That word is ruining my life.
Tuesday, September 15
I'm fighting with Logan. Again.
He keeps getting on me about needing a date to homecoming. He asked me to go with him, but I reminded him of what happened at the Grand Finale Dance last year, when he tried to touch my butt and I hit him and we both got sent home. He said he wouldn't try anything, but I don't care. I have no interest in going on another date with Logan Bruno.
Mary Anne says that Logan never tried anything like that with her when they dated in the 8th grade, but he was only thirteen at the time. She says in the past year most of the boys started doing that sort of thing, and she hates it.
So then Logan said that everyone would call me a dyke. That word again. Everyone already calls me a dyke, since last year. Some of the juniors started it, and it caught on.
But not everyone calls me a dyke. Abby doesn't, Logan doesn't. None of my old friends do, at least not where I can hear them. (Stacey hangs out with some kids who do, but she's always polite to me.) Mary Anne gets really angry when she hears people say it. She doesn't say anything, but she turns red and stomps away. That's why she stopped going out with Trevor, because he said something about me.
I'm not a lesbian. I refuse to use that word to refer to lesbians. It's offensive, even if I'm not gay. I tell people that, and they just laugh at me and use it anyway.
I've dated boys. I dated Bart Taylor, back in the 8th grade. And I tried to date Logan, until he tried to touch me. Just because I don't want a guy to feel me up in public does not make me gay. I tell people that too. More laughing.
Anyway, back to Logan. I told him that people called me that anyway, and I didn't care. I do care, but not enough to let Logan put his hands on my butt.
He said they'd stop if I got a boyfriend, and I said I wasn't going to get a boyfriend just so that some idiots wouldn't call me names.
Then he said “I'm starting to think that's the only reason you would get a boyfriend.”
I asked what he meant by that, and he said he was just kidding, and I picked up my lunch tray and went to sit with Mary Anne and Pete and Emily. I should have congratulated Emily on the election, but I didn't want her to ask why I didn't run.
I didn't get to talk to Mary Anne about what Logan said, she was busy showing off the silver necklace Pete had given her. They'd been going out all summer, and it was their three month anniversary or something. Mary Anne likes it when guys make a big deal about these things, and Pete isn't stupid.
I'm going to call Mary Anne now.
It's later. I called Mary Anne. She thinks Logan is a pig. I also think Logan is a pig, but I hang out with him and the guys from the JV teams to talk about sports. I wish that's all anyone would talk to me about, ever. Just ask me what I think of the Mets, or if I think the football team has a shot this year.
But Mary Anne asked me who I think is cute, because she could ask Pete to tell them to talk to me. I didn't really have an answer. All the boys are either pigs, like Logan and the rest of the guys I hang out with, or they're boring. And they all smell, either they don't shower enough or they drench themselves in body spray.
Mary Anne thinks Pete doesn't smell, but I could smell his cologne across the table. It's the same cheap drug store stuff that Sam leaves the bathroom smelling like all the time. Especially before he goes out with Stacey. I don't know how she doesn't faint from the fumes.
I miss Stacey. And Claudia. And middle school. I miss having a life, not just a romantic life or lack thereof. I miss sitting in school and thinking about the cool thing I was going to do afterward, or going to bed at night and being happy that I would get to see my friends at school. Rather then spending school trying to avoid being the butt of someones stupid joke, and spending my evenings dreading school.
I don't like any of the guys at school, and I wish people didn't expect for me to pick one.
Friday, September 18
I hate Cary Retlin. I hope he dies. I hope his brain melts and oozes out his ears. No, something lingering and painful. I hope he gets some rare parasite that eats his internal organs. I will laugh at his funeral. No, I'll smirk. The whole time.
I feel better. Here's what happened.
Abby and I were sitting in Mr. Livingston's classroom, waiting for debate club to start. Abby asked me if I cared if she went to homecoming with Logan.
I don't care. So I said I didn't care, as long as she didn't mind dancing with a pig.
“I hear pigs are really clean animals. Smart too. I wish I was going to be dancing with a pig, but all my options are high school guys.” She said, joking.
I laughed a little. Then she asked if I was going by myself. I said yeah, I didn't feel like putting up with pigs or high school guys.
“Don't worry. Someday your pig will come.” She said, and we both laughed at that.
Then she said, “So there really isn't a guy here you'd want to go to homecoming with?”
“No. Have you seen the guys in this place? I'd rather go with you, at least I know you shower.” I said, smiling because it was a joke.
All of a sudden, from the desk behind us, I hear, “Not the best counter-argument to the names people call you, Kristin.”
I guess I'm not supposed to joke around with my friends if I don't want to be called names. I can add that to the list of things I can't do anymore, along with run for student council and go alone to homecoming.
Anyway, I turned around and glared at Cary. I told him it was a joke.
He smirked and raised his eyebrow.
“It was a joke, Retlin.” Abby said, really serious all of a sudden. “Don't you have to practice being a smug jerk someplace? Like, alone?”
“Club meeting starts soon. In the mean time, I'm very interested in why the two of you prefer pigs, or Abby, to your gentlemen classmates.”
“It was a joke!” I yelled.
“It was. There's still an underlying issue that's interesting.”
I was furious, and I grabbed my backpack and stormed out of the room. I skipped practice and walked all the way home.
Why didn't he get it? It was a joke. There are plenty of guys at school I'd rather go out with then Abby.
Later. I don't know why I did that. I keep re-reading it, and it's still there. I just lied in my own journal.
What was the point in that? I know that there aren't any guys at school I want to go out with. No one else reads this. (I wrote Algebra on the front of it and leave it under my school books. It's the best hiding place with Karen around. If it were under my mattress or in my sock drawer, she'd be reading it every day.) Who am I trying to fool?
Anyway, Abby called. This is how the conversation went.
“Hey, Kristy, you okay?”
“Yeah. Or, I will be once I murder Cary Retlin.”
“Whoa there, slugger. Cary was joking. Really. He was just looking for one of your little debates about why girls are better then boys. I don't think he was expecting you to go kablooie so fast, he seemed really annoyed when you stormed out.”
“Then why wouldn't he admit it was a joke?”
“He did. But you don't expect him to apologize or anything, right? I mean, it's Cary.”
I realized she was right. He did admit it. “I guess I over-reacted. I hate how he can get me like that.”
“Yeah, Cary can push your buttons like a six-fingered computer hacker. But you usually keep your cool better then that. Lay it on me, Kristy, what's going on?”
“Nothing! He started needling me, and I blew up.”
“Do you like him?”
“WHAT? No, I do not like Cary Retlin. I can't stand to be in the same room with him.”
“Noted. So nothing weird happened today at all. You made a joke, Cary teased you, and you burst into flames and ran out of the school like any other day.”
“Good! As long as that's cleared up. . .”
“And I am not interested in Cary. Or any other guy at SHS.”
“And if you were you would tell Abby immediately, because she's your best friend and would never make fun of you even if you were madly in love with Cary Retlin himself.”
“Yes, I would tell you immediately. Especially if it was Cary. I'd need you to have me committed.”
“Great. Now, I have math homework calling me like creepy puppets in a horror movie. Call me if you need me.”
“Sure.” I said, and we said good by and hung up.
I guess I don't have to kill Cary. Abby's right, I just went off really fast. It must be hormones or something. I'm really glad she called. And I wish she wasn't going to homecoming with Logan. We could go stag together.
There's no point in lying in my own journal. I would rather go to a dance with Abby then any of the guys. That's not so bad. There are lots of good reasons for it:
- Abby smells nicer. She almost never wears perfume, and when she does it's only a little.
- I can talk to Abby like a person. About sports, sure, but also about life and other stuff.
- Abby dresses better. And this is not saying much for the guys at school. Abby doesn't care about fashion or anything, but she looks good in the clothes she wears.
- Abby is cuter. Her face is pretty. It makes me smile. None of the guys do that.
Actually, that's not just Abby. Those all go for a lot of the girls at school. Girls are so much better then boys.
Friday, September 25
I haven't written in this in a week. I haven't written because I, Kristy Thomas, am afraid of what I wrote last.
I'm afraid because I found out that I will lie to myself in this book. And I'm afraid because what I wrote last sounds. . . you know.
But it's true. There are a lot of girls at school who make me smile when I see them. Not just girls I know. There's this senior with the prettiest long red hair, and she smiles all the time and I have to smile back.
That also sounds. . .
But I'm not. Just because some idiots say it doesn't make it true.
It doesn't make it false, either. I lied to myself before.
But I'm not.
I'm not. I can write it over and over. That doesn't make it true.
I have to do something.
Plan: Devise experiments to test whether I am.
Wednesday, September 30
School today was Hell. I don't usually use words like that, but there's no other way to describe it.
First, while we were waiting for the doors to open Mary Anne spent the whole time talking about the romantic dinner Pete was planning before the dance.
Next, in homeroom Cokie asked who I was going with to homecoming. I said I was going by myself, and she said “Why does that not surprise me?”
Because you're a horrible human being, Cokie?
I should have said that, but I didn't. I just sat there and fumed.
Then, in history, I sat in my usual seat. Usually Stacey sits next to me, because none of her friends are in the class. We don't talk much, just hi, how are you, stuff like that. But today she sat on the other side of the room.
I was really confused, so at lunch, the first thing I did was find Mary Anne and pull her aside.
I asked if she'd talked to Stacey, and if Stacey was mad at me for some reason.
Mary Anne shook her head, then bit her lip, so I knew that she knew something.
I asked what was going on.
She took a deep breath and looked down, “People are saying that you asked Stacey to homecoming. As a date.”
I can't say how angry I was. Stacey is Sam's girlfriend. Even if I was what they say I am, I would never ask out my brother's girlfriend. I told Mary Anne that, and she said that it was probably just Cokie being mean.
I really don't care if it was. I don't care who it was. Someone just wanted to add a little bit of humiliation to my day, and make things awkward with the few people who are still my friends.
We sat down to eat lunch together, separate from everyone else. Mary Anne thought I should find a guy to go to homecoming with, just to shut people up.
I told her I'd think about it.
The rest of the day I couldn't help noticing all of the people whispering and snickering about me.
I figured it was because of that rumor, until after 6th period.
I passed Claudia in the hall, and tried to smile at her. She smiled and waved. Then a minute later she ran up next to me and grabbed my arm, frowning, almost angry. “Come here.”
She lead me into the girls room, and looked around. It was empty except for us. Then she pulled my backpack off my shoulder and turned it around. Someone had written “DYKE” across the back of it in black marker.
I can still feel the way I felt then, if I close my eyes. My face feels hot, and I'm so angry I could hit something, and tears are coming to my eyes because I'm angry but the last thing I can let myself do is cry like a baby. Claudia's hand is on my shoulder, and even though my eyes are closed to hold back the tears I know she's looking at me with pity. Why wouldn't she? I'm pitiful.
I can't believe this. Why me? Other girls play sports, other girls aren't going out with anyone. Why did people decide that I'm the dyke?
Claudia said it's because it really bothers me. She said some people were making fun of her clothes last year, and she just gave them the finger and walked away.
I was amazed. That isn't the sort of thing I do. My parents would ground me forever if they found out I did something like that.
She shrugged, “They never bothered me again. I wasn't any fun. But the whole school knows what makes you angry, so. . .” She motioned to my backpack. “Who do you think did it?”
I stared at it. The word seemed angry, like it was attacking me just being there. I had no idea who wrote it. I also realized that I had no idea when it was written. Mary Anne would have said something, but it could have been any time after lunch. I could have been walking around all afternoon with that on me.
I told Claudia that, and that I didn't want to go back to class.
She offered to hang out with me in the girls room, since it was only last period.
I've never cut a class before, but Claudia did occasionally. The thought of facing a class full of kids who were laughing at me made me feel sick, so I nodded and slumped down against the bathroom wall. Claudia sat down next to me and dug out a big bag of M&M's.
She knows about art supplies, so I asked if she thought the marker would come off my backpack. She said probably not.
I grumbled that I was going to need a new backpack, so I'd have to tell my mom. I hated the idea. I should be able to handle these things myself. I'm responsible, and I usually have good ideas. But I had no idea how to stop this now.
Claudia said I might not have to tell her, and asked if I had an old one I could use for a while. I said I did.
She said, “I can take this one and fix it for you. I'll put something over that part, and make the whole thing look cool.”
“You'd really do that for me?”
“Mary Anne isn't the only one you've been friends with since we were babies. I'm always here for you.” She smiled at me, and and I smiled back, and I remembered for a second that there are people in the wold who aren't jerks.
But not enough. I frowned again and sighed. “Everyone will know why I did that. Everyone will know what it says underneath.”
“You have got to stop letting it bother you, or they'll never let up.”
“It bothers me.”
She changed the subject to the fall play, and the sets she was working on for it. We just hung out in the bathroom until we heard the final bell.
The last straw was riding home with Sam. He asked me flat out if I asked out Stacey.
I couldn't believe it. My own brother thought I might do that. He could somehow imagine a possible scenario where I would ask out a girl, his girlfriend. I snapped that I was not gay and did not ask out Stacey.
He tried to apologize, but I didn't care.
I haven't written about this yet, even though it happened a few days ago. I hid it. Hiding things from myself, lying to myself, it's not doing me any good. But I thought maybe if I didn't write it down, I'd forget it ever happened.
I didn't forget.
I did an experiment, over the weekend. I got out last years yearbook, and pointed to a random boy and girl in my class. I made myself answer these questions:
Would I go with this person to homecoming?
Would I slow dance with this person?
Would I kiss this person, if they wanted to kiss me?
Would I do more then kiss this person?
The boy was Alan Gray. The answers were maybe, no, no and NO.
The girl was Miranda Shillaber. The answers were yes, yes, yes, and maybe.
That sounds really. . . and that's not the worst part. Monday, after soccer practice, I was in the girls locker room. I was convincing myself that I was wrong, so I looked at Cokie changing out of her cheerleading outfit. Nothing. I was really happy.
Then, feeling completely confidant, I looked at the other girls. Stacey was there, and she smiled at me.
It was creepy, I admit it. I mean, she wasn't naked or anything. I've seen her in swim suits skimpier then her underwear. But I wasn't looking at her like I looked at her then. And I started feeling. . .
ARGH! They're right. They're all right, and if anyone finds out then everyone will be calling me names forever, and I won't be able to say anything because they're all right!
I wish I was normal. I wish I didn't have to deal with this. Why does everything in my life have to be so difficult?
Thursday, October 1
School was okay. I decided to act like yesterday didn't happen. Everyone else did, too. No one talked to me in home room. Stacey still sat on the other side of the room in History, but she smiled at me like she was sorry. I smiled back and shrugged. I ate lunch with Abby and the guys, and the only thing we talked about was what the football team was looking like. I had a quiz in English, which I would have known about if I hadn't spent seventh period hiding yesterday. I think I did okay.
When did I become this person? Someone who would skip class to hide in the bathroom. Someone who's grateful for a day when no one really notices her. I'm a leader. I'm smart, and outspoken, and full of ideas. I don't hide, and I face my problems and deal with them.
I don't know if I can face this.
I have to write it.
I have to write it. I have to be honest here. If I'm not honest here, how can I be honest anywhere?
I am gay.
That took me 5 minutes and 43 seconds to write. I timed it with my stop watch.
I wrote “I am” and then I had to decide whether to write “gay” or “a lesbian.” I decided on gay, because lesbian sounds so. . . grown up. Like, maybe I'll be a lesbian someday, but right now I'm just gay.
So then I stared at the paper a little while longer, and then I had to pick up my pen and just form the letters, like a little kid practicing how to write.
Seeing it written makes it better. I can write it again.
I wrote that like normal. I guess I'd better get used to it. I'm Kristy, I'm fifteen years old. I like softball. I'm gay.
Friday, October 2nd
I think I might survive this. Only one person guessed what I wrote last night, and he just smacked me in the face with what I needed to hear. But my conversation with Cary comes second. Stacey first.
Stacey sat next to me again, we didn't say anything to each other, but she passed me a note. I'll record it here:
I'm sooooo sorry about everything! I know it's not my fault, but it really sucks.
I told the other cheerleaders I'm really mad at Cokie. I know she started this. She's about five seconds from getting kicked off the squad.
Sam's sorry too. Don't be mad at him. He wants to do more to help you, but he doesn't know what. Me too. If you have an *idea* let me know!
Your friend (forever!),
She doesn't dot her i's with hearts anymore. I wish she did.
I showed it to Mary Anne, and she cried (happy). She said I should get Stacey to hook me up with a really popular guy for homecoming. She said Cokie's head would explode. Mary Anne takes a very un-Mary Anne like glee in thinking about being mean to Cokie.
She's right, it would help the rumors and the name-calling, and it would really make Cokie mad. But I can't do it.
I can't do it because of what Cary said later.
Debate club again, I was waiting for Abby (she left her inhaler in her coat pocket, and had to run to her locker.) Cary sat down next to me, smirking.
That drives me crazy. But I didn't want to blow up at him, like the other week. So I jokingly reminded him that he forgot to say something mean about the rumors going around.
He kept smirking, saying that he didn't forget, he wasn't going to say anything.
I asked him why not. Cary seems to have his own set of rules about what it's okay to make me crazy about and what it's not.
What he said next was weird. Not because of what he said, but how he said it. At first he was still smirking as he said, “Because it was a lie. I give you more credit then that, a lie wouldn't really bother you. The truth is what bothers you most.”
“Yeah? So what's the truth?” I asked.
“You would never ask out Stacey McGill. First, because she's dating your brother, and second, and most importantly, because you're a coward.”
“You're calling me a coward?” (NO ONE calls me a coward!)
He completely stopped smirking, and nodded. He still seemed calm and confidant, but it was like he was talking to me like a normal person. “The things people say really get to you, no matter how stupid and juvenile they are. They get to you because they're true, and you can't admit them. You're afraid. So you're going to hide in the closet for the next three years and let idiots like that torment you.”
I just stared at him. It was like he knew what I wrote last night. It's why I hate him so much, he seems to know me so well and I did not give him permission to know me so well.
He shrugged, “You can face it or you can hide. And you've been hiding like a coward.”
I whispered, “You have no idea how hard this is.”
“I don't. But you're usually someone I respect, and right now. . . this isn't the Kristin I know.”
I couldn't answer that, but it didn't matter. Abby came in just then, joking like normal, and then practice started.
So I guess the first person I came out to was Cary Retlin. Sort of. Because he already knew. Jerk.
Cary's right. This bothers me so much because it's too close. And like Claudia said, people saw they could get a reaction, and kept pushing, and pushing, until admitting that I'm gay felt like admitting that I'm worthless, that I should never be able to run for Student Council or expect any sort of respect from the other kids. I guess that's why people stay in the closet.
I am not a coward. I am not worthless, and I deserve respect. I will demand respect, respect for who I am, without hiding or lying.
Plan: Tell Mom and Mary Anne and Abby this weekend. Come out to the school Monday.
Saturday, October 3rd
This morning, we were eating breakfast, and I almost told Mom and Watson. But the kids were around, and I thought they might not want me to say it in front of the kids, so I decided I'd tell them later.
All of a sudden I was lying to my family. I hate lying.
Okay, so I wasn't lying. No one asked me “Are you gay?” But I knew something important about myself, and Mom didn't, and I was answering everyday questions about my plans as though my life was exactly the same as yesterday. But it wasn't, it was very, very different.
So the day went like this:
Breakfast: Almost tell Mom and Watson. Almost tell Sam. Almost tell Nannie.
Babysit at the Papadakis's. Almost tell Mrs. Papadakis.
Jogging with Abby: Almost tell Abby. Almost tell Bart (we ran into him.)
Home this evening: Really almost tell Mom and Watson, but David Michael is in trouble, and they're having serious conversations with him and each other.
Call from Mary Anne: Do not even come remotely close to telling Mary Anne, because I have no idea how she'll react. Besides, she broke up with Pete, so she's crying and telling me how he tried to reach up her shirt during their last date and she thinks he's awful and never wants to see him again. I tell her that he is awful and his cologne stinks. She agrees.
People in my life I almost told: Everyone important to me, and a few random neighbors.
People in my life I told: No one.
BUT. . . I had a great idea!
Plan: Start a Gay-Straight Alliance at school.
I was thinking that if there are other kids at SHS who are gay, they must be looking at me and thinking they'll never come out, because why would you want to volunteer to be treated like I am?
So I should start a club so that people know that not everyone is a jerk. I know my friends will all be in it. I'm sure I can get other people too. I wish I could call everyone I know and talk to them about this! But first, I have to come out. . .
It's later. I absolutely must tell Mom and Mary Anne and Abby tomorrow. I can't live like this. How can people do this their whole lives? I can understand not knowing it, like I did before. Not telling yourself. But once you know, you can't just lie to everyone.
Ask to talk to Mom alone. Tell her I'm gay. Tell her I just figured it out. Tell her I'm ready to come out to my family, but I wanted her to know first. Ask what we should tell the kids (David Michael and Karen will probably understand. Andrew and Emily, I'm not sure what to say.) Ask if I can still have friends sleep over if they're not girlfriends.
Talk to Abby alone. Tell her I'm gay. Tell her I'm not hitting on her. Tell her I promise not to look at her while she's changing in the girls locker room. Tell her I make no such promises about the other girls on the team. Ask if she can still sleep over at my house.
Plan: Mary Anne
Go to Mary Anne's house. Talk to her in her room. No, she might think I'm coming on to her.
Ask Mary Anne to meet someplace. Tell her I'm gay. Apologize for making her cry. No, find a way to tell her without making her cry. (Impossible.)
Ask Mary Anne to meet someplace semi-private. Tell her I have good news. Tell her I'm gay, and I'm just fine with it. Tell her I just figured it out. (If she asks how do NOT mention the thing with Stacey.) Ask her if she's still my friend. Ask her if she'll still sleep over. No. . . oh no.
DO NOT TELL MARY ANNE. (Impossible.)
How do I tell Mary Anne? She's my best friend. What if she thinks I'm weird? What if she doesn't want to talk to me anymore? Those are unlikely. I've been kind of weird my whole life, and she still likes me. And Mary Anne would never stop talking to someone just because they're gay, especially her best friend.
But what if we aren't best friends anymore? What if she doesn't want to talk about her boyfriends, or ask me if her hair or clothes look good? What if she doesn't want to hang out in our bedrooms, or sleep over? Those are all pretty likely, and I'll have lost my best friend in the world.
I can't do this. I can't NOT do this. What sort of best friend hides this? And if I ever want to come out to the rest of the world, I have to come out to Mary Anne first.
Sunday, October 4 th
I just told Mom and Abby this morning. Two for two!
With Mom, I told her at breakfast that I had to talk to her. Privately. She looked worried, but she agreed right away.
So we went up to my room, and we sat on my bed, and I told her everything. From the beginning, last year, when kids started calling me a dyke, to accepting that I was gay, and that's why it bothered me so much.
She seemed really shocked, but when I finished she just said that she had no idea I was going through that, and I should have talked to her about it sooner. She said that she was glad that I was confidant enough to accept myself, and that she would love me and be proud of me no matter what.
I hugged her, and I cried. I don't think I've ever cried because I was happy before, I didn't understand it before today. I felt like everything was going to be okay, really okay, for the first time in forever.
I hugged Mom for a long time. She asked if I had a girlfriend, and I said no. Then I asked if I could have friends sleep over if they weren't girlfriends, and she looked a little suspicious at first, but she said it would be okay but we might need special rules. Like, we might have to sleep in the family room, or leave the bed room door cracked. I could understand that, and besides I would have been happy with anything because it's all going to be okay.
I told her I wanted to come out to the rest of the family tonight, and she said okay, but she asked if I minded if she talked to Watson about it, so they could decide what to tell the kids. I agreed to that.
Then I went to tell Abby. Here's what happened there:
I told Abby I had to talk to her, alone. We went up to her room. As soon as the door was closed I took a deep breath, and said, “Abby. I'm gay.”
“Cool. Want a soda?”
I stared at her.
“What I meant was, wow! That's awesome!”
“You don't hate me?”
“Um, no? I don't really make a habit of being a bigot.”
I wanted to hug her, but I hesitated. She noticed it and laughed, “I'm not allergic to lesbians, Kristy.”
Abby hurried over and hugged me, and it felt nice. Not in a romantic way, but just nice that now two people knew and everything was still okay. I thanked her for being so cool, and she thanked me for telling her, and said it took chutzpah. (Okay, so I had to look that one up. She has no idea how right she was.)
Then she said she wouldn't tell anyone. I told her about my plan to come out tomorrow.
She pulled back, looking shocked, “Kristy Thomas, did zombies eat your brain? You know how everyone at school is mean and ignorant and doing their best to give you a reason to move to Alaska and change your name? Telling them they're right isn't going to help that.”
I wondered, for just a second, if she was right. But I know that hiding just makes it hurt more. “They aren't right. What they call me is offensive, and then they go and lie about me on top of it. . . But that can't keep me from being honest, right?”
She agreed. Then I told her about the Gay-Straight Alliance, and she thought it was awesome. She said she'd be there, as long as I promised not to go all crazy about it like the BSC. I told her I don't make promises I can't keep, but she said she'd join anyway.
I told her I still had to tell Mary Anne, so she let me go and get ready to do that. Which is what I'm doing next.
I told Mary Anne. I don't know how it went. It was a draw.
I made her sit down, and told her.
She looked a little angry, and said not to let what the other kids say make me think things like that.
I explained that it wasn't what the other kids said, it was how I felt. That I liked girls better then boys, and that was just who I was, and it was okay. I told her how what they said hurt more because I was hiding it from myself.
She said she was glad I could be honest about it, if it would make me feel better. I kind of got the feeling that she wasn't glad, otherwise.
I think she saw that I was thinking that, because she smiled and took my hand and said she really wanted me to be happy again.
I thanked her, and smiled, and asked if she was okay with it, and she said she'd have to get used to the idea, but she would always be my best friend.
I went to hug her, and she hugged me, but she looked scared for just a second. So I pulled away fast. I don't want to make Mary Anne scared. I told her flat out that I'd never, ever do anything that would make her uncomfortable, and if she didn't want to hug me I wouldn't mind.
She smiled and said she didn't mind hugging me. I'm not sure that's true.
I asked her if she still wanted to sleep over at my house sometimes, and she seemed surprised by that, and said “Of course!”
Then her face fell, and she looked the tiniest bit mad at me, and added, “If my dad will let me.”
I told her I'd have my mom talk to him. We would work it out.
She smiled at that.
I told her about my plans for tomorrow, and asked if she would be in my Gay-Straight Alliance.
At first she couldn't speak. Then she literally begged me not to come out at school. She said the other kids would be even worse, that they might beat me up, that they'd make my life miserable.
I told her again how much it hurt me to lie about it, and how I would feel better if I could be honest.
She cried and said that I should change schools.
I told her not to worry. That I'd be fine.
She cried some more, then said “You're so brave, Kristy.”
And I felt proud. I am brave. I told her thanks. I asked again if she's join the GSA.
She nodded, and hugged me. Then we talked for a little while about what tomorrow might be like, and I called Mom, and she came and got me.
I still don't know how that went.
So then we had a family dinner. I told everyone, and they were all (mostly) happy for me. I found out a number of interesting things. I'll make a list:
Interesting Things I Found Out At Dinner When I Came Out
- Charlie and Sam had a bet about if I was gay! When I was twelve and stopped wearing skirts, Sam bet Charlie $50 that I was gay, and I'd be out before I was twenty. Sam made me call and tell Charlie so he could collect. I don't know if this is offensive or hilarious.
- Nannie used to know a woman who was gay, before you could really be out. She lived with her girlfriend for years, and no one ever talked about it, but everyone knew. I told her I would go crazy, and she said she understood why.
- Karen is deeply concerned that I won't have children, because she wants lots of nieces and nephews. I explained that I might still have children, or adopt, and that she shouldn't worry anyway because with seven of us she'll probably end up with more nieces and nephews then she can handle.
- Karen wants to start a Gay-Straight Alliance at her school, because she likes rainbows. Watson had to talk her out of that. I'm glad he did.
- Emily thinks that being gay is good, because boys are yucky. She may or may not grow out of that.
- David Michael wishes I'd stay in the closet, because our family is weird enough already. That hurts my feelings, but mom said she'd have a talk with him. I guess I understand it, if other kids find out they might tease him, and boy do I know how that can be.
- Andrew wanted to know if I thought girls were pretty or handsome. I told him I thought they were pretty, and that was all he asked. I do not understand how Andrew's brain works.
So, after dinner I had one more thing to do. I called Claudia and Stacey to tell them. They would have found out at school tomorrow, but I didn't want them to worry that it was a rumor. And I know they both care about me, even if we aren't as close.
Claudia was first, because her phone number is etched on my brain forever.
Claudia's reaction was good. I told her, and she screamed, then swore because she said she knocked over a bag of jelly beans. She told me how great it was. I told her about the GSA. She said she was there, and that it was an awesome idea and she was so happy for me.
I asked her why she was so happy for me, and she said she'd been really worried since the other day, it was like I wasn't even Kristy anymore. She said that she'd sign up for anything I wanted to do, if it meant I was having ideas again.
I have amazing friends.
I know that because Stacey said almost the exact same thing when I called her. And she said a club like the GSA would be just the thing to send a message to the jerks at school that there were people who didn't think picking on me was funny at all. I thanked her for her note, and she said she meant every word of it. She didn't care what people said about me, we were friends.
I feel amazing right now. So lucky, and excited, and a little nervous, but in a good way. In a way that means that I have big plans.
Later. Much later. Can't sleep.
Nervous in a good way? No. Terrified. I feel like I'm going to be executed tomorrow. What was I thinking? I didn't run for student council because I was afraid of these people, and now I'm going to come out to them? Did I think they'd forget that word when I tell them I'm gay?
I wish I could call my friends. But it's three in the morning, they're definitely asleep. Except for Mary Anne. She's awake, worrying about this like I am, but her dad would kill us if I called her at this hour.
I feel sick. I should stay home. Really, I think I'm going to puke.
Maybe I should stay home forever. Maybe Mary Anne was right, I should transfer schools. I could go to Stoneybrook Day School with Shannon.
There are only three high schools in town, Kristin. You'll run out by senior year.
That's what Cary would say. And he'd smirk. I hate him.
I hate him, but I need him now. The idea of him. I need someone I have to prove something to. I have to be at school tomorrow, because I have to show Cary that I'm not a coward.
That's really crazy, but it makes me feel better. Tomorrow could be the worst day I've ever faced, they could write that word across my forehead, and I would know that I still have the respect of my biggest rival.
I'm glad I have friends who like me no matter what.
And I'm glad I have Cary, who doesn't.
I'm going back to bed. If I can't sleep, I'll just lay there with my eyes closed and hope I don't feel dead tomorrow.
Monday, October 5 th
I did it. I'm out.
Today was full of so much that I don't know how I'll write it down. But I have to write it down, I want to remember this day forever.
I can't write it in order. There's too much happening at the same time and it's a mush. So first, all the good things that happened. Then the bad.
I got a few hours of sleep.
I made Sam drive me to school early so that I'd have time to talk to the guidance counselor. Told her I was coming out to kids in my class today, so that she'd be ready if people had any questions. She asked if I was comfortable with that, and I said that I was.
I also asked her about forming a Gay-Straight Alliance. She said it was a wonderful idea, and if enough people seemed interested she'd find a teacher sponsor for us, or she'd do it herself. I thanked her and shook her hand, and headed to homeroom.
Homeroom went well, too.
I got there early and took my usual seat. I made a sign up sheet for the GSA last night when I couldn't sleep, so I had that ready.
I still wasn't sure how the actual coming out would work. I would have preferred to make an announcement over the loud speaker to the whole school, but I figured that might be a little over the top.
I didn't need to worry. I watched the other kids file in, then Cokie came in. She noticed the audience, the lack of teacher, and me. Her favorite scene.
She walked up to the front of the room and sat at a desk, then turned to me and found me watching her.
“Eat your heart out, dyke.”
I stayed calm. I was cool and collected and mature, and I said clearly and loud enough for the class to hear, “Actually, Cokie, I prefer gay. Or lesbian, if you insist. Dyke is really offensive.”
Cokie said something sarcastic about being glad I was finally coming out. I just grinned, and said “So am I. And just so you know, I'm starting a Gay-Straight Alliance. Everyone is welcome, as long as you're not a jerk who uses homophobic slurs to make people ashamed of themselves. I have a sign up sheet here.”
The kids around us started whispering, but I didn't see any one laughing. A few of them smiled at me, and asked to sign up. One girl who never said much to me before actually congratulated me.
And Cokie's head exploded.
Okay, it didn't, but she was furious. She glared at me all through homeroom. Mary Anne would have loved it.
And I got to tell her about it at lunch, because both she and Abby sat with me. . . and so did Claudia and Stacey! The whole school had heard by lunch time, and some kids smiled at me and gave me thumbs up in the hall. Some other kids. . . well, we'll get to that with the bad stuff. Good first!
Stacey went over to the cheerleaders table with me, and we talked to some of the people she said were smart and never called me names. They were really nice, and signed up for my club, and one girl said she has a cousin in Lawrenceville who was gay, and she'll set up us sometime. So I might even have a date!
And then Mary Anne told me that a guy on the school paper wanted to do an interview with me about what I had been though and the GSA. She asked me if I wanted to do that, and Abby laughed and asked when I didn't want to talk about myself and my projects. She was right, I can't wait.
Claudia said that one of the guys in the drama club was gay, but not officially out. He told her that seeing me come out made him want to come out, and he was going to join the GSA and come out there.
And then, the best part. Claudia pulled out my backpack. She had sewn ribbons over that word in a rainbow. She left the ends a little frayed, so it didn't look too girly, and over top in sharpie she wrote LOVE. I almost cried. Mary Anne did cry. Everyone hugged me before we went back to class. It was the best thing that's ever happened to me at SHS.
Later. Talked to Mary Anne about the agenda of the first meeting of the GSA.
That reminds me, I have to write down the bad things that happened. They're just as important, if only as a starting point for my work with the GSA. A lot of kids said some really stupid things, so I'll make a list of those.
- Called me “dyke.” I'm going to talk to the principal. I should have before. It's no different then if kids were calling Abby “Jew.”
- Told me I'm sick.
- Told me I'm going to Hell.
- Told me I need a boyfriend.
- Asked if I was contagious (I could not believe that one. The girl seemed serious.)
Also, after school while we were waiting for soccer practice some of the guys came over and informed me they wanted to see some “girl on girl,” and tried to get me to kiss Abby. I was really scared for a minute that Abby might get creeped out. But lucky for me it's Abby, so she said she'd kiss me if Logan would kiss Alan. They both declined.
The worst one was when I came out of third period, someone had written “DYKE” on my locker again. It still hurt a little to see it there. But I kept my cool. I waited until the hall was clear, and there were no teachers around, and I took out a marker.
I crossed it out and wrote “GAY” under it, just as big. Then I hurried to lunch.
So that was the bad today. I can handle this. It's not perfect, but it's not the worst day I've had. I have great friends. There are people who are finally listening to me. I feel like myself again.
Then there's Cary. Neither good nor bad, just funny and annoying, and, well, Cary.
Toward the end of the day, I saw Cary in the hallway, and I approached him of my own free will. I offered him the sign up sheet. He smiled and raised an eyebrow, and said, “You're running it? I'll pass, thanks.”
I told him I already had lots of people who were interested.
He said, “I feel sorry for them.”
I shot him a look, but not a really mean one. I wanted to thank him, for what he said the other day, and for being someone who's respect mattered to me. But I couldn't. He's Cary Retlin. So I just said, “Fine. See you in debate.”
He smirked, “Work on this one, resolved: Kristin Thomas is only in debate so that people will be forced to listen to her talk. You take the positive.”
He's such a jerk. And I told him so. And he laughed and walked away.
If he was a girl, he'd be so hot.
Yeah, I just wrote that. No more lies. Just me.