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Silent No More This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

“Is he gay?”
"I think so.”
“Yeah, I'm pretty sure.”
“Ask him.”
“Hey, are you–”

The last period bell cut off the cacophony of fresh gossip. My ears burned with embarrassment, and I walked away as quickly as possible, feeling clunky and awkward. There had always been rumors about my sexual orientation, but the painfully straightforward questions made me cringe. I tried to shrug off the girls' malice as ignorance, but I became preoccupied with thought. My blood rose with anger as I heard their laughter in the background. Inhibitions blinded, I rashly shouted, “Some people are so rude!”

“You f-----t!”

“Wow! I haven't heard that before. You have to be the wittiest people I've encountered.”

This would have been a perfect response if I had said it aloud. In reality, as a shy, easily embarrassed freshman, I had yet to stand up for myself, let alone defend my sexual orientation. I wanted to tell someone what had happened, but I was too embarrassed by the situation. I had experienced gay jokes and “playful” comments before, but the hateful word those girls had used felt like a knife in my chest. A myriad of insecurity, second-guessing, and self-denial ­silenced me.

After weeks of agonizing and hiding the secret, I promised myself that I would never be silenced again. Gradually, I came out to my closest friends, then my sister, and finally my parents. With their support, I grew more comfortable, and I saw changes in my disposition. My face no longer reddened at the mention of homosexuality, and instead of slouching away from intrusive questions, I proudly proclaimed, “Yes, I am gay.”

It is difficult for me to pinpoint the moment of my epiphany, but as I gained confidence, I was finally able to face the ignorance and homophobia in my school. I spoke up with authority, and people began to listen and respect me. They recognized that I was not weak because of my sexual orientation and that I would not degrade myself with silence.

I became a leader in my school, and during sophomore year, I joined the Gay-Straight Alliance. My participation has helped me accept myself and forgive those girls and the others who have hurt me with their ignorance.

Hate is unproductive. I've learned that I cannot hold grudges or become bitter toward people who try to hurt me; their hate comes from misinformation and ignorance. My experiences have helped me to better understand homophobic people and to see the good in many of them.

My trials have been a blessing in disguise. Though I was knocked down, I built myself back up with clear goals and responsibilities. I now have two objectives: to provide a safe community for gay students, and to educate those who harass us.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 26 comments. Post your own!

Nkeeyah said...
Apr. 12, 2010 at 12:43 am:
I know people who are gay and expirenced the same wrong as you. You are an amazing person for forgiving those girls. That word should never be used. It's wrong and demeaning to all.
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ZiRaww! said...
Jan. 10, 2010 at 9:41 pm:
When I came out i never had any homophobic slurrs... I would have perferred it though; I would rather be called a lesbian than guys fallowing me because they think it's hot.... Ugh its disgusting
brandisky replied...
Apr. 13, 2010 at 11:07 am :
agreed, it is. when i came out about being bisexual i was called the f world back and i decided to homeschool. imm going back next year tho, man is high school going to be interesting.
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The~crayon~in~my~heart said...
Jan. 9, 2010 at 5:47 pm:
I have a friend who is gay and he is the sweetest guy i know. and i agree trials are blessing in disguse, if only to teach
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michelledenise228 said...
Jan. 7, 2010 at 11:49 am:
I know just how he feels. i came out at a new school last year. and since that time i have heard every homophobic comment one can imagine. but i had never had the courage to stand up for my self until after i read this artilce
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Smarmodon said...
Jan. 5, 2010 at 8:45 pm:
Well, this just gave me a whole new perspective on homophobic people. I have been trying to get most of my older family to not be such homophobes, and I realize now that I've been going about it wrong. I'll take this story into consideration when at family gatherings :)
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