The flyers were white with black text. There were no flashy colors or anything that would usually catch the attention of people, but a few students noticed them.
The flyers advertised a new GSA club. ‘Today’, it said, and then underneath that, in smaller text, ‘every Tuesday after that’. The meetings would start at three o’clock, the flyers had added, in room 511.
There had never been a GSA before, and the sort of people the club would attract weren’t even really aware there were others like them. So a little group of six teenagers gravitated towards room 511 when the time neared 3 pm after school.
Christine was there first, right after class. She had greeted the teacher as he was leaving, and the teacher left the door unlocked for the club, making Christine promise to lock it when she and the group left. She even showed that she knew how to do it, to assure him.
Next came the infamous Jenna Rolan, who was best known for gossip. She knew things about everyone in the school. If it was interesting enough, she wanted to know.
Third was well-known Jake Dillinger. Yes, that Jake Dillinger, the one with the very many extra-curriculars, who was also on the team of whatever sports game happened to be in season.
Fourth was the just-as-well-known Chloe Valentine. “Not a word,” she hissed at the others as she sat down. She set her iced coffee down on the desk.
Fifth was a mostly unknown kid wearing a striped shirt and navy blue cardigan, who arrived right at 3. The kid looked nervous, and when stepping inside the classroom, asked, “Is this – uh, where we meet for the GSA club?”
Christine glanced over. “No, this is where we meet for the swim team.” The kid seemed to be ready to leave so she quickly added, “I’m joking.”
The last to come in, two minutes after 3, was another kid who was also mostly unknown, with white headphones and a red sweater that included several patches.
The group of teenagers looked around themselves. “So where’s the leader?” Christine asked, tapping her fingers on the desk she sat at. She had a lot of energy, but letting her fingers and hands do as they pleased helped control that.
Some of them shrugged. “Who was the person who even put up the flyers?” Jake asked as well, now curious. There were no answers. Nobody seemed to know, so Jake took it upon himself to lead the group. “Okay, well,” he said, getting up. “Let’s all sit in a circle and introduce ourselves.”
“Are we in elementary school?” Chloe said sarcastically, clearly finding something wrong with it. But other than that, she said nothing, and the six teens picked up their chairs and put them in a circle.
“I was looking online at some things when I got here,” Jake said, “and someone online suggested we introduce with our names and pronouns. I’ll go first. I’m Jake, he/him.”
“Is saying our pronouns really necessary?” Chloe asked, but then she sighed and added with a roll of her eyes, “Chloe, she/her.”
“Christine, she/her,” Christine chimed in, seeming happy to be there.
“Jeremy, they/them,” said the one in the striped shirt, fiddling with their cardigan.
Jenna was about to take her turn when Chloe interrupted, “They/them?”
Jeremy nodded anxiously.
“But you’re one person. Would that even make sense?”
Jeremy sort of shrunk back in their seat, and Jake quickly said, “Chlo, leave them alone.”
Chloe hummed before deciding to let it go.
“Jenna,” Jenna said when it was certain there would be no more interruptions. “I guess I’m pronoun indifferent. It doesn’t really matter much to me.”
“Michael, he/him,” said the kid in the red sweatshirt, fiddling with the strings and looking nervous. Jeremy could guess why he was nervous – the boy, who they now recognized from their English class, was outed each time the class had a substitute, who would call the name ‘Maya’, and Michael would have to tell the substitute, “It’s Michael.”
Jake nodded, the introductions over with. “So does anyone know each other? I know like… some of you. Chloe and Christine, and Jenna.”
Some of them looked at each other. Michael and Jeremy shook their heads. Christine mentioned she was aware of the others name but not really friends with any. Jenna said she knew everyone but not to the point of friends. Chloe said she had only been aware of Jake and Jenna.
“Well, now you all know each other,” Jake said, looking pleased with himself. “What were your guys’ reason for being here? I didn’t even know Chloe was interested in this sort of thing.”
“Not a word, I said,” Chloe repeated, glaring slightly. Jake ignored her order, for the most part.
“Well, I thought it would be neat to meet other people on the spectrum!” Christine said, the first one to answer Jake’s question. “I didn’t even know there were going to be others, aside from maybe the person who put up the flyers!” She clasped her hands together. “I was kind of hoping to meet another ace.”
“Oh well, hey,” Jenna said, giving a little wave, and Christine smiled. “Are you aro too, or…?”
Christine shook her head. “I’m not sure yet, but I don’t think I’m aromantic.”
“Well, GSA stands for gender and sexuality alliance,” Jeremy said next, with a slight shrug.
“Same,” Michael spoke up. “Before I researched it I thought it meant Gay-Straight Alliance. Or, well, that’s what it was at my old school.”
“And, well,” Jeremy continued, “I thought it might help me to know that there are other LGBTQ people at the school. So that I don’t feel… all alone.” Jeremy bit their lip and looked down at their hands.
“Well, now you know us!” Christine said pleasantly, and Jeremy gave her a smile.
“Are we all going to come back next Tuesday?” Jake asked, his question once again to the whole group.
The teens were silent for a minute or two.
“I’d like to,” Christine finally said. There were nods of agreement from Jeremy, Michael, and Jenna. The only one left was Chloe, and the group turned towards her.
“Maybe,” is all Chloe said at first. “Though, I want to make sure of something before we leave, even if I don’t come back.”
“Speak your mind,” Christine said.
“None of this leaves this room,” Chloe started. “Specifically and especially the fact that I’m here. If it gets out that I may or may not become part of this little club. That means no gossip,” she continued, directly to Jenna, and then went back to speaking in general, “no mentioning me to anyone – not even in passing. If anyone finds out I will destroy you.” And then she took a sip of her iced coffee, as if she hadn’t just threatened anyone.
Christine looked taken aback by Chloe’s threat for a moment, before glancing around. “I think we can agree that nothing will leave this room, about anyone. I can understand that some of you might want to keep this under wraps.”
The rest of the group nodded in agreement. “And um,” Jeremy said quietly, “I’m… not out to anyone else except my dad. So… I guess you shouldn’t use the correct pronoun for me outside of this.” They looked unhappy to say that. The others nodded in understanding.
Jake took out a piece of paper from his backpack and wrote something on it. “I think we should have a sign-up sheet,” he explained. “So that we in the club can know who’s here, you know?” With the pen he made a line down the middle, and on the left he wrote ‘name’ where on the right he wrote the number sign often found on phones.
“Oh, maybe I can keep track of what goes on in here,” Christine said. “Like – like a secretary in real club meetings!” She seemed pleased to assign herself that.
Jake passed around the paper, and the group wrote down their names and phone numbers. He also said, “And maybe as individuals we should exchange phone numbers. You know, to make friends.”
The group stood and they did that, exchanging phone numbers with a few people but not all, and one by one they left. First Chloe, then Jenna, then Jake, then Michael, then Jeremy.
Christine made sure to lock the door when she left.