He’d been stewing over this for a while now. Honestly, it had almost come up more than once and he’d been about to say it, until he chickened out.
He probably should have said it before… this happened. This was probably the worst way to come out to your boyfriend, and your whole choir for that matter. Seriously.
Jesse looked left and right up the hallway before slipping into the choir room and closing the door behind him. The doors didn’t have locks, so he’d have to be quick. He’d quickly learned at multiple schools, this one included, that no bathrooms were safe when trying to change a binder, so he’d just have to quickly do it and pray to whatever gods existed that nobody walked in.
He tugged his shirt over his head and chucked it to the side, then carefully peeled off his binder. He sighed when his chest and ribs were free, taking a deep breath. He normally didn’t wear a binder during rehearsals or performances, opting to change into a sports crop and a baggy shirt, but today he’d been tugged to the auditorium before he’d had a chance to change and he hadn’t had an excuse to leave then. So instead of saying he needed to go to the bathroom like a sane person would, he chose to suffer and practice with the binder on. He was sure that people noticed something was off, considering he’d put in minimal effort while trying to look like he was putting in effort, but he wasn’t sure it worked.
Now though, he couldn’t resist taking a moment to breathe properly.He pulled on his sports bra – he wasn’t completely insane, he could go without a binder for an hour until lunch – and began a few simple breathing exercises, getting the air back into his lungs. He ran a hand through his hair (greasy, ew, he seriously needed a shower but no way was he using school showers) and sighed, cracking his back and neck. He made a mental note to himself to go on another Google deep-dive to look for binders suitable for dancers, not that it had given him anything last time. Maybe he should save up for a crop binder a size too big and try it out.
Dear god, how he envied trans-masc people with small boobs, their jobs must be so much easier.
He was brought out of his thoughts at the sound of the door opening. Stupidly, he looked around to see who entered – and who would it be other than Quinn, Puck, Rachel… and Finn.
They all froze when they caught sight of him, wearing nothing but a sports crop to cover his chest. For a few horrible seconds, they only stared at him, and he at them. Rachel’s eyes were the first to widen in understanding as she spotted the binder on a chair, and that prompted Jesse to dive for his bag, desperately rummaging around for the spare shirt he kept in there.
He cursed rather loudly then addressed the group behind him. “Don’t any of you know how to knock?”
Now is not the time to panic, Jesse.
Oh god, I’m panicking.
He heard footsteps hurrying towards him and Rachel’s familiar hands took over the search in his bag, finding his shirt and pulling it out in record time. “Everyone out!” she called out. “All of you! Now!”
Jesse couldn’t look, but he heard the door closing behind him. His hands were curled into fists and they trembled no matter how much he tried to stop them from doing so. His jaw clenched and his head was spinning. Oh god they’re gonna tell everyone and they’re gonna kick me out and I’ll have nowhere to go oh god I can’t go back to Shelby please Rachel help me oh god oh no-
“Hey, lift your arms up for me?” Rachel’s soft voice cut into his panicked thoughts and her tone was so kind that he obeyed. After she’d gotten the shirt over his head, avoiding touching his chest, she straightened the hems, a habit he knew was a nervous tick. “Are you okay?”
“I’m sorry,” was what came out of Jesse’s mouth in reply. “I’m sorry I never told you.”
“Hey now.” She tapped his chin, pulling his face up to look at her. “You have nothing to be sorry for. Your body is your business, nobody has a right to know everything about it except you.”
Her eyes were gentle and her smile kind, and Jesse smiled in return. “Thank you.”
“Happy coming out,” she giggled, and Jesse couldn’t help a chuckle before his smile fell.
“What am I gonna tell Finn?” he whispered.
“That you’re still you,” Rachel replied firmly, “regardless of what you have going on down there.” She smiled, and there was something scary about this one. “And if he says anything bad about it or breaks up with you over this, send him my way.”
Ah. That’s why. He could only nod in slight fear even though the threat wasn’t directed at him at all.
Rachel surprised him by pulling his head down so she could gently kiss his forehead. “This doesn’t change a thing. You’re still a part of this.”
She pulled him into a hug and he wrapped his arms around her waist. He whispered a “Thank you” into her shoulder, and if her shirt was wet from his tears afterwards, she didn’t mention it.
Rachel and Jesse left school after that incident, opting to take the rest of the day off and spend it at Rachel’s house, binge-watching Disney movies and loudly singing along, not caring if any neighbours were annoyed.
The next day when Jesse walked into the choir room (after not avoiding Finn all day, he just hadn’t run into him, that’s all), a hush fell over everyone that would have been comedic if not for the reason. He met Rachel’s eyes and returned her supporting smile, before finally looking at his boyfriend. He couldn’t read his expression, which scared him.
Mr Schue was the first to speak up. “I’m glad you could make it. We were worried about you after you disappeared yesterday.”
Jesse shrugged. “I wasn’t feeling well,” he tried, his voice coming out weaker than he would have liked. He could feel all the eyes on him, and his shoulders lifted of their own accord.
Something in him suddenly said no, and he made his decision. He dropped his shoulders and lifted his chin, staring everybody down. He left his gaze on Puck and Quinn for longer than the others, but settling on Finn the longest. “I’m transgender,” he announced. Everyone looked surprised, but a few looked understanding while some others stiffened. “That’s what you wanted to know. Congratulations.” With that, he turned and left the room.
He was on his way down the corridor when there was a “Hey, wait!” and footsteps running to catch up to him. Part of him wanted to keep going, but he stopped anyway.
He turned as Finn stopped in front of him. He fought to keep his gaze steady on Finn, but it was a struggle. “Yes?” he asked.
“Listen,” Finn began, taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry about yesterday. We didn’t even know you were in there, I didn’t mean to walk in on you. I’m sorry.”
Jesse shrugged, trying to stay casual. “Shit happens,” was all he said.
“I… I just… I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
“I didn’t want you to know.” Jesse looked Finn in the eyes. “I wasn’t ready for you to know. For anyone to know. I’ve always been put up on this pedestal, you know, the all-mighty Jesse St James, can do no wrong on stage.” He laughed to himself, running a hand through his hair and looking up at the ceiling. “I wasn’t ready for people to know that I’m not who they thought I was.”
“Did Vocal Adrenaline know?”
“Shelby did. She was actually one of the first people I came out to, and she helped me order my first binder.” He grinned. “Still a bitch, though.”
Finn laughed once, that adorable crooked smile filling his face. “I’m still really sorry if we scared you yesterday.”
“It’s okay. Like I said, shit happens.”
Finn shook his head. “No, no, we should have said something, we should have helped. I should have helped.” He looked anywhere but at Jesse, seemingly unable to look him in the eye. “God, I’m supposed to be your boyfriend, I should have been the first one to help.”
Jesse smiled sadly. “It shocked you. It’s okay, y’know. And you don’t know much about this stuff.” This was going better than he expected. “Really, it’s fine.”
“Can I hug you?” The question caught Jesse off guard, and he nodded mutely. Finn pulled Jesse into one of his warm bear hugs that Jesse loved so much and Jesse sighed, resting his head against Finn’s chest. He felt Finn kiss the top of his head and he smiled. “This doesn’t change much,” Finn said. “I still… I still love you.”
Jesse pulled away and looked up at him. “You love me?” he repeated.
Smiling crookedly again, Finn nodded. “Yeah, I do,” he confirmed, and pushed a stray curl off of Jesse’s face.
Despite the grin that broke out on his face, Jesse pulled Finn down into a kiss. “Thank you,” he murmured. “I love you too, y’know.” Finn grinned to match Jesse’s own, and placed a lingering kiss on his forehead.
“I was trying to figure out how to tell you,” Finn said quietly, “but no time ever seemed right.”
Jesse nodded. “It was the same with me about the whole trans thing. I wanted to tell you, I just didn’t know how.”
“Will you teach me?” Jesse looked up at Finn, confused. “About that, I mean.” Finn looked a little awkward. “Will you tell me about all that?” he asked again. “I don’t want to fuck anything up, or make you uncomfortable, is all.”
Jesse smiled and kissed Finn again. “Sure,” he replied. “But right now I’ve got a show choir to face.”
Finn took his hand with a smile, and they walked back to the choir room. Much to Jesse’s surprise they faced a room full of relaxed and supporting faces, and Rachel standing in front of them all. She winked at him, and he swept her into a hug. “Thank you,” he whispered into her ear.
“Anytime,” she replied.
Okay, so it definitely wasn’t the best way to come out. But hey, it worked out in the end.
Well, mostly. Now he just had more eyes on his binder-wearing habits than him and his conscience, and just about everyone would how long he’d had his binder on, and whether he’d changed it before practice.
He didn’t mind all that much. It was nice to know people cared.