I once had the honor of being called “the least pretentious person” a friend had ever met, but I am now handing over the crown to Autumn. When you meet her it’s like hanging out with an old friend, she immediately puts you at ease, as does her writing. Neither of us planned to create a Pride portrait during Pride Month, we both just sort of fell into it, and I’m so proud to share her story:
Have you ever lived a certain way, just because that certain way is considered acceptable? Something about it just doesn’t feel right. You want to be different. You want to break free of what is considered “normal.” You feel that you need to be true to yourself.
I was 11 when I noticed that I was different. At first I didn’t know why or what it was that was different. I started to notice that people would look at me strangely because of the way I dressed and my short hair. Since I can remember I have always worn athletic clothes and have had short hair freshly done at the barbershop! I was never into “Girly” trends or anything that was typical for a girl to play with or dress in. I eventually came to the realization that I was gay.
Knowing that I was secretly gay throughout middle school made it so difficult for me, especially when my friends would talk about boys. They would ask which boy I had a crush on and at the time I would just say no one because I was scared to share my truth. I didn’t even feel safe telling my friends my biggest secret. I just didn’t know if I could trust them. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my own twin sister. This one boy used to be obsessed with me and he would meet up with me asking for a kiss and bring me cookies…guess how that went. I took the cookies… AND RAN.
As time went on throughout middle school and high school, I found things beginning to get even harder. At this time, I moved every year of middle school. Experiencing three different schools in three years took a toll on becoming comfortable. From Beverly, to Hamilton-Wenham, to Georgetown, it was very hard to feel myself. People around me started to bully me, make jokes and began shouting homophobic slurs such as “fag” and “homo.” Especially trying to go to the bathroom, I would get questioned by other students if I was a girl. Another thing they would say is, “This is the girls’ bathroom.” Being told phrases and slurs like these made it hard for me to want to go to school. This made me feel very uncomfortable with myself.
Everytime I would start to feel better and start to feel like I could truly “be me,” more bullying would happen and it would tear down any self-esteem and rip through any confidence I was slowly trying to build. At this point in my life I was truly at my lowest. This continued right up to sophomore year of high school when I finally realized I just simply had enough.
That year, I got into my first relationship with a girl. It was a secret, of course. About three months into the relationship my mom figured out we were dating. She simply asked me, “Are you two dating?” My face was bright red and I just sat there frozen in fear. I had no idea how my life was going to go after this moment. My mom took me for a drive and started asking questions like, “Do you like girls and boys? Do you like just girls?” I sat there speechless just thinking if this is gonna be the day my life falls apart or gets better. I said, “Mom… just girls, something about guys gives me the ick.” I felt so relieved to finally have been able to come out to my mom.
Six months later into a new relationship. Without thinking, my mom asked me where my girlfriend was…in front of my dad at my sister’s soccer game. At that time I still hadn’t come out to my dad. That moment I thought to myself, “Uh oh.” My dad didn’t say anything at first, but when we got home after the game he said, “So you have a girlfriend?” I said, “Ummm yeah…” I could feel my face burning up getting bright red. After that night, my dad had a lot of questions. I wasn’t sure how he had felt about me liking girls. It was rough at first, but he told me that he was relieved that I had finally come out and now our relationship can be true. He wanted to know what was appropriate to say and what wasn’t now that his daughter had come out. His girlfriend and I helped educate him on the LGBTQ+ community, so he felt more comfortable with it.
During this process of coming out to my parents, I came out to my closest friends, as well. All of my friends were super supportive about my sexuality, except for one person. I wasn’t close with him, but you can say he was a mutual friend, since most of my friends were friends with him. He called me a fag multiple times. Again…the bullying continues. He was using online resources as a way to bully me. Text message, Instagram, you name it. My friends even asked him to stop and he would continue. It was constant for a couple weeks. I got to the point where I couldn’t deal with it anymore. This experience made me feel unwanted. Depressed. Constantly made me question myself. I had my friends and my family remind me that there will be many people who will judge you and try to pull you down.
Junior and senior year of high school allowed me to flourish because I was finally in a place of contentment. I realized my friends and family would love me no matter who I was! As more people knew about my sexuality, the easier it was to be myself. Senior year was the first year in my whole life where I felt accepted, I felt loved, and I felt the most like me. Now, going into junior year of college, I have realized that all of the rugged experiences were there for a reason, that reason being to make me the best me. Today, I have come out to everyone I know. The love is felt everywhere and is strong. I have never felt more comfortable in my skin and I couldn’t be more proud of who I have become.