Ok, so where do I start?
I was born and raised in a little, conservative town and surrounded by a very religious family, but my mom and dad turned agnostic before they had my little brother and me.
Let me start when I was in fourth grade. I found out that in my giant, religious web of my family, my cousin was gay (let’s call him Joe). He came out to my mom first and she sat my brother and me down and said, “So, Joe is gay.” She said we couldn’t tell anyone because he would tell people at his own speed. We agreed and were very supportive of him, but that moment kind of flipped on the ‘What If?’ switch in my head.
When my family moved to an Army base after fifth grade, I met this girl who was very open-minded, despite her religious, homophobic upbringing. I immediately became good friends with this girl (let’s call her Sam).
Sam was like the counselor for our group of friends. One of our friends was cutting herself and Sam was always there for her. I anyone needed help, a lot of people asked, “Get Sam, please.” Sam was the counselor for all of our friends, but I was her confidant and counselor.
One day Sam changed into this pro-LGBTQ shirt in the locker room, asking me to “Please not tell [her] parents.” I agreed and promised not to. I felt kind of bad for her, having to lead two different lives. Then I knew that if anything ever happened, I could trust Sam with it.
Sam always knew I was very outspoken and supportive about LGBTQ and Feminism things. One day she asked me, “Lexa, are you a lesbian?” I denied the question at first, and we sat in silence for a bit. “Sam?” “Yeah?” “I think I might be bi,” I said, and I felt like something was off my shoulders. I mean, at the time, I knew there was gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and ace. I had always ‘liked’ guys, but that seemed to be because of pressure from others. I found quite a lot of girls attractive, but it didn’t seem… normal.
Sam and I had a very close, physically and emotionally, friendship. I mean, we had no shame hugging, kissing cheeks, linking arms, anything in public. Everyone but our close friends found this weird. This helped me realize that, more than anything, I craved human contact. I was just so lonely.
One day, a new girl came into the school (bear in mind that this is a school for constantly moving Army Brats). Sam, being the person she is, welcomed this girl with open arms. One of our friends asked what the bracelet the new girl had on meant. “Oh, it stands for pansexualism.” Everyone seemed to take this in stride, and the new girl seemed relieved that we didn’t make fun of her. Later, I approached the girl and asked what the difference between pansexualism and bisexualism was. She explained to me and I walked away with a new ‘What If?’ switch flipped.
One day, in my German class, I passed my friend a note asking if she supported LGBTQ. She wrote back, saying that she absolutely agreed and supported the idea. I wrote back, saying, “I think I might be pan.” I held my breath as my friend looked at the note and slowly at me, and back to the note again. She wrote two letters on it and handed it back to me. “OK.” I released my breath and went to the bathroom and cried happily.
Now it was a matter of telling friends one by one. I did it any way I could — through notes or in hallway corners, on field trip buses, through Truth or Dare, and Never Have I Ever. Sam came up to me one day on our way off to lunch, and I told her I was telling people. She knew, of course, because you can’t keep things from those who know you best.
Thank you so much to those who stayed with me through all this. Good luck to anyone who’s going through this. I’m still telling people. I may still be in high school, but here’s my advice: be true to yourself. If people can’t accept you for who you are, you don’t need them. Stay strong and trust those who you love and who love you.