I tried to stop staring because I didn’t want him to think I was weird, but the more I looked at him, the less I wanted to look away. He was the first person I ever thought was beautiful. Not pretty. Not cute. Not glamorous or interesting.
He was beautiful.
I’d like to say it hit me like an epiphany. That the clouds parted and the sun shone down on me with a sudden clarity as trumpets played the sweetest symphony. That I realized I was gay. And I was okay with it.
I’d like to say that—I really wish I could—but it would be a lie.
No matter how incredibly right it felt, it just felt wrong.
I felt wrong.
So I fought against it. I tried to ignore it. I hid it from everyone. Especially Troy Jensen. The more my friends talked about girls, the more I tried to embrace heterosexuality. I joined in the discussions about girls—who was the prettiest, who I wanted to get to which base with, who was most likely to allow me to get to those bases, and so on.
But the whole time, I knew it was a lie.
I didn’t want it to be untrue. I tried to force myself to actually feel the way I was pretending to feel. Claiming to feel. Begging to feel.
But I couldn’t do it.
No matter how hard I tried, no matter how hard I fought—and against everything I was raised to believe—I couldn’t hide from the fact that I was different.
I liked boys.
I liked boys the way my friends liked girls.
And so, one day, I started using my closet for what it was really meant for—clothes and shoes, and random shit you can’t find a place for—and I stepped out. Because I wasn’t some random thing that didn’t have a place.
I was a person who just wanted one thing out of my life. The same thing everyone, everywhere wants.
And you can’t be happy living a lie.
I decided being different was a blessing—not a mistake, not a curse, not a disease. And I had every right to that happiness as everyone else.
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t understand what true happiness was until it was taken away.
© Cheryl McIntyre