Reflecting on being in love and very queer…
“Well you were kind of asking for it,” they said to me. “You’re just drawing attention to yourself.” This was the mass response I got at my small-town high school, when I chose to openly walk down the hallways holding her hand or to leave love letters in the vent of her locker during passing period. It wasn’t bad enough I was already struggling on my own trying to sort all this out—I had to bear their judgement and ignorance too. But I did it—with pride.
Her name was Hope, and she was my first girlfriend, my first gay relationship, but more importantly—my first love. She was the new girl—more or less. It was freshman year, and most of us had known each other in middle school, but Hope had transferred in and was a new face to our group. I guess we were instantly drawn to each other—just two goth girls in band tees amidst a group of misfit ninth graders trapped in a small, central-California farm town.
We were already branded as “weirdos” in the high school clique realm—we were barely tolerated outside of our small group. But our friends could not always be there to protect us, and in those moments, we were “out.” Hope and I were infatuated and in love with each other—we were also proud; we were also stubborn and rebellious. But we did not deserve what we suffered as fragile 14-year-olds.
One afternoon just before fifth period, I was walking Hope to her classroom, often late to my own. Holding hands, we walked down the second-floor hall of the E building. The harsh stares of our classmates burned a hole in our hearts, and just near the end of our walk, WHOOSH-BAM! A bunch of rolled-up binder paper balls hit me in the head.
Fearful, Hope and I kept walking and picked up our pace. We got safely to her class; I kissed her and turned around to go to my classroom. The bell had just rung, and the halls were quiet, but I wasn’t sure it was safe. Cautiously rushing down the stairs and into the B building, I was almost there. Around a sharp corner, a crowd of cackling girls approached me and spit on me in passing. Then they laughingly and, with great spite, shouted “Dyke!” This pretty much continued to be a staple of my daily life for the next few months.
Due to the nature of the small town, school authorities lacked compassion when I looked to them for support. This forced me to transfer schools to the next town over, which was more populated and urban. Needless to say, Hope and I broke up. Was it something between us? Or did the stress of the bullying play a part in the end?
Regardless, this was a turning point in my life. Something about myself forced me to take a physical action like changing schools. It was then I knew my life would be not be ordinary, nor easy. And looking back fifteen years, I wouldn’t change it. Because I am proud, and you know what? I am happy.