What are you?

Samantha MacGowan, Staff Writer

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What are you?

I turn towards my ‘friend’. I am puzzled, with my brow furrowed. What am I? I am a life, a human, a soul, just like anyone else

I am queer, because I was born that way. I knew, when I first looked, like really looked at a girl. Why do I flaunt it? I’ll get to that later.

But-

What’s it like being queer?

What’s it like, being you?

Staring eyes, none too believing. Judgement, even from those who claim they accept me. When I walk into a room, and suddenly the conversation gets quieter. I still remember when I first started questioning myself, when a girl asked me in a game of truth or dare- “Are you lesbian?” I was shocked, and denied any accusations. Still, came the side-eye glances, like they didn’t believe me. I was being judged in the one place I felt safe

I can still recall the hope I had, when I was fresh out of the closet to my friends. It was the beginning of my eighth grade school year. We were assigned a task to write about an experience that changed us. I did, and in that I did the bravest thing a queer person ever has to do. I came out.

I was thrilled to do this, even after switching partners for fear of my previous partner telling everyone, this would be the first person I would tell. My new partner was kind, and agreed to stay silent. I never saw side glances from her.

Coming out, even in that essay, was a freeing thing. The rush of anxiety giving away to pure joy, when they react positively of course. I walked on air the whole day.

But then-

Then, it happened.

I was called to the office from class, my classmates giving me questioning looks. My stomach knotted, and I felt myself start to sweat.

This guidance counselor had already done me wrong, but I was forced to hear her drone on again.

She said to me,

‘Samantha, recently you turned in an essay in language arts, which we found to be concerning.’

I jumped in a rush-

‘What? Why! I did nothing but talk about the positives!’

I felt attacked, cornered, like a fearful wild animal.

The Guidance counselor told me how the teacher reported it.

I felt betrayed. She explained they would need to send the essay home for my parents to review it. Even through my tears, she still sent it.

I hadn’t come out to my parents.

I always knew my parents were suspicious. They didn’t hate queer people, but I was afraid to find out if they disapproved of me being asexual.

I was scared.

I was terrified.

My school outed me to my parents, and spread the essay everywhere in the school.

Luckily, my parents reacted well, but wasn’t it endangering me if they hadn’t?

Still, I was the one punished.

Ever since I came out, I’d feel mostly normal.

I’d hang out with my friends, go on walks, be a normal teen.

But…

Whenever I touched any girl, even in a friendly way, I felt them shying away. I was shunned, not literally, but I couldn’t be friendly with girls anymore.

I couldn’t do anything. I felt trapped.

Going to church and feeling attacked, walking in school and getting glances from ‘friends’, and not being able to trust an adult in my everyday life. That was my life.

To be queer meant I was excluded.

No one meant to hurt me, but their actions cut deeper than apologies could heal.

I got out though, I moved to a better place.

I spent a short time in eighth grade in my new town, which was mostly uneventful.

But I was accepted!

To a queer person, even someone saying “I don’t hate you” feels like earning an award after what I had been through.

I went to high school. I didn’t like it, but it was better than my old town! And they had an LGBT club!

I belonged somewhere and I wasn’t going to let anybody take it away. I was confident and queer. But that didn’t last.

I was out to everybody, and their parents, and I was accepted! My new friends didn’t think it was weird to do normal girl things with me!

I love theatre, it’s hard to be queer and not love theatre. I decided I was going as a character from a musical I love, since I had short hair and could rock their songs.

My friend approached me, and asked if I had any suggestion for her costume, since she had decided to change hers. We were friends, so I suggested we go as two character, but in a friendly way.

She thought it was a great idea!

By then, we had already planned a sleepover at my place, and we were going to hang out with a bunch of our friends at our school dance.

The next day, she approached me and told me she couldn’t be the character

I said

‘Ok, it’s no big deal’

She said she also couldn’t sleep over

I said

We can plan for another time, don’t worry!

She said her mom wasn’t going to let her sleepover, ever.

It struck me, It was because I am queer.

Heartbroken, I said it was no big deal, even if it was.

It was awkward between us, especially since I felt so trapped. I couldn’t do any friendly things without panicking and worrying that she might think I’m coming onto her.

It passed though, but I still felt trapped.

At one point, when I came home from a fun sleepover with a bunch of my girl-friends, my dad glanced up from his computer, and the first thing he said to me was

“Did you make anyone feel uncomfortable?”

What about me? I was so uncomfortable there, because it was four girls and they were all dancing together, and I couldn’t join in because of something I can’t control!

To me, being queer isn’t just not feeling sexually attracted to people or not liking guys romantically, its being cut off from your peers so much that you can’t even function.

So when you criticize me for ‘flaunting’ my queerness, do you ever think that I flaunt it so future queer kids don’t have to live through what I did?

I was outed, scorned, and trapped, but hopefully they’ll say I was strong.

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