Was it a Choice?
Author's note: I went through a few similar experiences and felt that I'd like to write this story of transition.
Things Happen for a ReasonHi, my name is… hmm… well, I suppose names don’t really matter. I don’t believe in labels anyway. You may argue that a “name” isn’t the same as a “label,” but hey. Believe what you want. It won’t change my mind anyway. I believe in whatever I believe in… even though it’s not much... I don’t believe in destiny or fate. I don’t buy into that “magic is all around us” stuff. I think that fortune telling is a load of… uh… Never mind, you get the point… Anyway, if there’s anything I do believe in, it’s this: Everything happens for a reason. There’s a story I’d like to share with you, but before I begin, I believe there are a few things you may need to know first. I think that with this background information, you’ll get to know me more so than if I were just to tell you my name. Ever since I was little I had always wished I was a boy. I grew up with my cousin, Nate, so that may have influenced me a bit. When I was three, I told my mom I wanted to get married and have a great wife. I was just a little kid, and I didn’t know the difference, so it may have been just an innocent mistake. When I was 10, I hung out only with boys in my elementary school, but I was living with my 2nd cousin Ricky at the time, so I didn’t know how to be friends with girls since I was under the impression that they “break” easily. Throughout elementary, I always wore the boy’s uniform, but it could have just been my tomboy phase, right? In 6th grade, I borrowed Nate’s clothes all the time, but at the time I already lived with him anyway, so maybe it was just because I wanted to stay close to my only older cousin. Since I started Jr. High, I was a loner, but that was because boys are just at their most obnoxious state, and I still didn’t talk to girls. By 7th grade, I hated males in general, but that’s because of my stepdad trying to kill my mom and me; I can hold a nasty grudge. By 8th grade, everyone started dating except me. I still hated guys; even more so than before. Throughout all of 8th grade, I was always accused of being a lesbian because I cross dressed, and never had a boyfriend or even a small crush on a boy. While the other girls began to be more feminine, I cut my hair to a boy’s cut. Then again, it was a really hot summer that year. Because of all the accusations, I acted like a homophobe. However, I just wanted to prove everyone wrong. After giving it some thought, I recalled that when I was little, I always wanted to wear a tux. In the only dreams I’ve had of me getting married, I was always the groom. Because of that, I was wondering if I was Trans, but I started liking tighter fitting clothes and I grew my hair out again, so I thought I was safe. I couldn’t be Trans. By the time I reached 9th grade, the accusations died down. I started hanging out with the upperclassmen; mostly guys again. Since they matured, they didn’t seem too bad. With their help, I started to get female friends too. I had guessed that everything before now was just a phase. I was perfectly normal… I knew those rumors couldn’t be true… But that’s when it happened. Prop 8 was established. I had to admit, I was a bit upset by it, but I didn’t let my friends know… A week after Prop 8’s establishment, all the gays in my school (I didn’t even know we had that many gays at our school to begin with, let alone any at all) started to speak up against it. I stayed quiet. True, I disapproved of it, but I couldn’t risk speaking up at all. What would I say? I didn’t want the gays to hate me. I wasn’t a homophobe [anymore], but if I spoke out supporting them, the accusations would come back, and I’d be labeled. I didn’t lose you, did I? Either way, do try to keep up with me. Now that you know these little details about me, I’d like you to keep them in mind. And with that note, my story begins… It was lunch time, and here I was completely spaced out. The previous day, a friend of mine, Liz, had told me she was bi. Our conversation was playing and replaying in my mind the entire day. It’s not that it bugged me or anything, but I was surprised. How are you supposed to act when a friend you haven’t spoken to since 8th grade comes out to you, of all people? Sure, Liz and I were pretty tight in Middle, but ever since we started high school, we hadn’t talked very much at all. I was surprised she still remembered my name… Even though we shared a common class [band], we hardly spoke. I mean, I was third chair in our section, while she was in the back with the rest of the second clarinet players. So despite the fact that we did see each other every day, we never got anywhere in our conversations passed “hi.” We hung out in completely opposite cliques; she hung out with one of the more mainstream groups, while I chose to stay in my not-so-little group of friends. Excluding myself, my current friends were the type that you’d only remember hearing their names, but can’t match it to their faces. Ironically, despite our low recognition, we were rumored to be a gang, hence our more inconspicuous personalities. I was picking at my lunch when a few people from another group caught my attention; they were talking about Liz. I heard them calling her things like “dyke,” or “queer.” Normally nowadays, I was one who would shake my head in protest silently. Because I stopped growing in 6th grade, I wasn’t really in any position to pick a fight with anyone. Back in elementary, and parts of Jr. High, I was at least near the other person’s size. Now, I barely made it to 5 ft., my bone structure was –let’s face it—tiny, and seeing as now I was in high school and everyone was about twice my size—I even had to wear glasses-- my fighting days were over… or so I thought. Several moments passed, and they were still bashing Liz. It took every ounce of willpower I had to stay quiet. As I listened to the conversation go further, I began biting my lip in restraint. That’s wen I heard them say, “The b should die.” While my friends next to me just shook their heads in disapproval for the way the Phobes were acting, I found myself stomping my way towards that group. They were all laughing obnoxiously loud when I suddenly grabbed hold of the girl that had been laughing the hardest about saying my friend should die, and pushed her against the wall. “Wh-what the hell!?!” All eyes were suddenly on me. That girl’s friends were watching me from behind, snickering because the “Midget Asian” managed to throw her--a 6 ft. girl-- so easily. My group was watching in complete shock without moving from our spot. I was furious. I glared at her. I glared at them; all of them. Trying to look cool, and composed, the girl (I believe Allyson was her name?) tried laugh it off and slap me, but I caught and held her wrist in a death grip. She winced. “What the f**k is your problem!?!” she yelled, half laughing, trying not to show signs of fear. “Take it back,” was all I could say. “What are you talking about!?!” she was acting dumb. She smirked at me, but it disappeared quickly when I tightened my grip. “Just now… you insulted a friend of mine. You said she should die, and you all laughed,” I glared over the rim of my glasses into her eyes, “Now take it back.” “What the hell! Why should I,” she began, but I tightened my grip even more and I heard a few cracking noises, “Ow, ow! Okay! I take it back!” I dropped her wrist, and she dropped to the ground just as fast, clenching her wrist which was getting swollen. I turned and walked back to my group. They were all staring at me in disbelief—they never did see me act so violently before. I sat back down on the grass resumed picking at the rest of my food like nothing happened. All was silent until the bell rang. On my way to class, I passed by two of the guys from Allyson’s group. As I passed, one of them gave a sarcastic smirk at me, but I just ignored him continued walking passed him. Just as I was passing by, only one word from their conversation stood out to me, “Dyke.”At that moment, I realized that the because of what just did, the accusations were sure to come back. Still… I had every right to be mad. Someone was talking crap about one of my friends, and naturally, I’d stand up for them. I didn’t understand how people could claim to be friends with someone, but suddenly when their sexual orientation changes, everyone turns on them! I suddenly felt bad for Liz. From what I remembered, she was a really nice girl—still was. So how and why would everyone suddenly turn on her when she decides she’s not straight? It’s just so unfair… “She’s still the same person, so what the hell is everyone’s problem?” “What?” Mom was staring at me, concerned, “What’s wrong? Did something happen at school?” I stared into my cup, watching my reflection being distorted by the movement of the water. I didn’t know why, but hearing all the Phobes bashing Liz just made my blood boil as much as it did. I haven’t had a decent conversation with my mom lately, so I guess I could tell her, “I heard these kids talking about Liz. You remember her, right? They said she should die,” I deliberately left out the part about Liz deciding she was bi. It wouldn’t be a good idea to bring that up in front of my mom. Who knows how she’d react? “What? Why did they say that?” my mom tried to make herself sound concerned, but I knew she was only half paying attention. She was always like that. In middle school, she heard a lot from me about bullying and fights, so it didn’t seem like a big deal by now. Unless I got in a fight—which I have, little does she know--, she didn’t really worry about me at this point, especially since Kent was born. Before I was able to respond to her, she suddenly directed her attention to the TV in the living room talking about Prop 8. I acted uninterested, but I was all ears. The TV reporter was talking about a riot of gays who were infuriated with Prop 8’s establishment, and how the supporters of Prop 8 have increased the percentage of discrimination in the past week. The mic was turned over to a Phobe who said, “Those queers need to calm down. What they do is just sick. But we’re not telling them to be straight or anything. They just can’t get married, so what’s their beef?” As much as it irritated me, I didn’t show any reaction to it. I looked at my mom. She turned and looked at my stepdad, Antonio, who had switched off the TV. He got up. “It’s unbelievable,” he said, coming into the kitchen. “I know,” Mom replied. Great, so she doesn’t approve of the discrimination either. That’s good… Feeling bound by obligation, I spoke up, “So do you think Prop 8 should’ve been established?” “Yes.” I froze. What? Did she just say yes? Next, Antonio began to speak, “I agree. If they have the right to marry, then they’ll have the right to adopt kids. Do you believe that’s fair to the child?” “But they weren’t bugging anyone,” I argued, trying not to sound defensive at all, “there have been gay marriages before, right? If you ask me, Prop 8 caused more trouble. Now there’re riots left and right, and I think it would have been best if everyone just left the issue alone.” “But do you think that would be fair to the kid or kids that get adopted by a gay couple? They wouldn’t have a choice. It wouldn’t be fair.” So you guys are Phobes too. Whatever, I wasn’t going to have this argument. I was tired, and pissed off enough as it was. When I heard the bathroom door open, and Kent scurried into the kitchen, I got up “I’m gonna go take a shower.” “You’re not going to eat your food?” Mom called from behind me. “Not hungry.” So many thoughts were buzzing around my head while I was in the shower. Why am I so annoyed? Then what Antonio said earlier repeated through my mind, ‘It wouldn’t be fair.’ Right, I thought, so to be fair to kids, they find it fair to not let gay people get married. So an arranged marriage with two people who absolutely hate each other is completely legitimate so long as they’re straight? Sure, if that’s the world’s view of fairness, then I must be the most unfair person in the world. The next day, the news about my explosion yesterday at lunch was all over the place just as I predicted. Everyone began whispering to each other in the halls whenever I passed by. I was stared at by everyone in 1st period. When 2nd period came, P.E., I could still hear the whispers everywhere while I was changing. I pretended I couldn’t hear them and just chatted with Maria, who wasn’t up to date with the rumors. I got the same treatment in 3rd period. When 4th period came, band, it was like everyone was trying to stay out of my way. Even my band teacher, Mrs. Prose looked a bit concerned. When I made my way to my band locker to get my clarinet out, everyone immediately got out of my way. As I got out my instrument, I heard from behind me say, “Do you think she’s queer too?” I ignored them still. All of a sudden, I saw Liz walk into the band room. She had her eyes to the floor, her face—probably concealing how red her eyes must have been. She’s been harassed by Phobes everywhere all week. I pretended to pay no mind to everyone else as she slowly passed by on her way to her locker. As she passed, I gave her the usual every day, “Hi.” She turned her face towards me. She stared at me for a moment with her pale blue eyes. Those same eyes were once full of so much energy, but now… now I saw nothing in them but defeat. She nodded in response, and I attempted a smile as if everything was normal. But then I heard someone else say, “Geez, first Liz, and now even our one of our top clars? It’s probably ‘cuz of her. They’re friends, right? You think they’re probably…” “Hey! If you’ve got anything to say, quit saying it behind my back! It’s not like I can’t hear you!” Everyone in the band room froze and stared. Even Liz. Mrs. Prose was watching me too with caution. Once again, I had shocked everyone, including myself. I turned my attention to a group of girls standing in a corner, “You. You guys were all friends with Liz, right?” One of them nodded, “Y-yeah.” “What kind of friends are you,” I gestured toward Liz, “She’s still the same person, isn’t she? Then why are you all suddenly avoiding her as if she’s the plague? I know we have a lot of diversity in this band. That’s first thing I noticed,” I paused and glanced at Mrs. Prose, who was listening intently, “There’re kids from so many cliques in here; football team members, math team members, cross country runners, gamers… When I first came, it surprised me how accepting everyone was of each other. During Band Bash, we were all here, helping each other out with different parts of music; playing, practicing, and laughing until midnight... We’re supposed to be like a family, right? Where’d that go!?!” There was an awkward silence and no one dared to move. I still stood my ground, glaring at everyone. I wasn’t going to give up; even the possibility of facing eternal gossip and rumors for the rest of my high school life didn’t move me. After a few more moments, one of the girls spoke up, “She’s right. We have been immature about this. Didn’t we say we were supposed to be better than those kids outside of band? But we still went ahead and followed the crowd,” she looked ashamed, then turned to Liz, “I’m sorry, Liz.” Liz just smiled. I sighed, took out my music folder, “Okay, set up people! If we want to be better than those kids outside of this band room, we can’t just waste time!” Just like that, everyone scrambled to get ready for rehearsal. On the way to my seat, Mrs. Prose stopped me. I looked at her, expecting her to scold me for causing a scene, but instead, she just put a hand on my shoulder and said, “Nice work.” At the end of rehearsal on the way to lunch, Liz stopped me at the door to thank me, and ran off to catch up with her friends. I stood there for a while. An enormous sense of pride filled me, but another sensation accompanying my newly found confidence slightly unnerved me. Even after all the drama was over, I was even more confused about something. What still continued to bug me was this: Why was it that when I heard Phobes bashing Liz, it didn’t feel as if I was only standing for an old friend, and I knew it. If anything, it felt more like I was standing up for myself… After that event, a few months passed. By age 14, I had earned this new respect from others in my group. I guess everything does happen for a reason. The accusations died down faster this time, probably because of my awesome friends that happened to frighten people a bit. Intimidation does come in handy, you know. Regarding the confusion that still remained earlier; I had decided that it was because of my undying loyalty to those I care about. That had to be the reason why I was bothered by the issue so much. However, uncertainty still lingered. By January 5th 2009, I befriended a girl, and by the 16th, we began dating—we still are. After everything that went down months ago, and all the madness of sticking up for Liz and a few others, turns out I’m “queer” too. By now, I’ve accepted it, and I’m not ashamed of it either. I can’t tell my parents, of course… Not unless I wanted to be disowned, and kicked out of the house. I’ve decided that I would tell them after I had my own place to stay, and it didn’t matter if they disowned me. In the midst of everything, now only one question remains, and it still remains with me to this very day. Looking back, there were small details and enough of them that someone could use as evidence to make an argument that I was never straight to begin with… but despite whatever evidence anyone could bring up, I still can’t help but wonder… Was my “conversion” to lesbian really a choice…? Then again… everything does happen for a reason.