When I was in the third grade, I found out for the first time that gay people existed. While walking home, my best friend told me about his recent trip to Provincetown, Massachusetts where he saw two women walking down the street holding hands, and even kissing. That blew my mind; it had never occurred to me that you could do those things with someone the same gender as you. The story ended, we continued walking home, and it completely slipped my mind. I didn’t think about it again until the sixth grade.
The second time I heard about gay people, I was starting at a new school with only a handful of people that I knew. The four-floored private Catholic school held grades six to twelve, which terrified me, considering my 5’2 self couldn’t push through crowds easily. It was in my mandatory theology class that we were taught about “the homosexuals” and how they were a disgrace to god, and how we would all go to hell if we had homosexual thoughts. I still thought nothing of it, because I totally wasn’t gay.
I never thought about being in a relationship, or anything else, with a boy until the seventh grade. There was a boy in my English class that I really wanted to be friends with. We liked playing the same video games, and he made me laugh a lot. Whenever I was around him, I felt strange. It was something I’d never felt before, and I had no idea what it meant, until one day at lunch when the topic of gay people was brought up. Their responses were that it was gross and wrong. So I took those feelings I had for my friend and pushed them down, and I chose to forget how I feel and lie so no one thought I was gross or wrong.
The first person I came out to was my online friend. She lived in Pakistan, so there was no way she could tell any of my friends. She told me that how I felt was normal and that she still wanted to be my friend. I was so happy that I cried for hours. The rest of my seventh grade year, I came out to a few more close friends, all with positive outcomes. I began to feel more accepting of myself.
In the eighth grade, my family moved to Florida. I decided this was the best time to come out to my family, since we would essentially be starting over. I wanted to start our new life as the real me, gay and all. They were very accepting, and everything ended up fine. So I started at a new school, once again, but this time as the only queer kid. This is also the first year I heard many gay slurs for the first time, since they got yelled at me daily. But it didn’t bother me, because I was finally happy.