The response to my GSA post– the emails, the comments, the conversations I am having, I couldn’t have imagined. Just by bringing this up, folks, adults, are realizing, reopening, saving, reviewing, repairing their own experiences of growing up queer (or whatever words you use to define yourself) and sharing them with me. Reaching out. Reconciling.
I have received amazing emails and they have meant the world to me. Some younger than me, saying, “I don’t want to do it like you did.” One email in particular (and you will most certainly know who you are) sent me an epic email. An entire chapter of her life in my inbox. The parallels between us made it hard to breathe and made me think to believe, “You don’t have to do it like I did.”
I think most of us have that moment, where you wish you could go back and tell the younger-you something. I had no advice for this girl, except to continue reaching out, which I was most afraid of doing. This epic email was like time travel, where I looked my younger self right in the eyes and said, “To answer your question, jesse, the one that won’t ever let you rest, you are not crazy, you are wonderful, and the dark gets light, I promise.”
How is it that every single high school in this entire country isn’t talking about this? There is not one school, there is not one class in any school, anywhere, without a kid or two or three or four or five or six, that would benefit just by knowing that support was there.
I don’t know if I would have gone to the meetings when I was in high school. I was so afraid of my town and so afraid of myself then. But had this club, a GSA, even existed, like I’ve said, would have saved me from a million demons. Sometimes support is just knowing there is support to be found. In high school I use to tell Marie I felt like the last unicorn. Sophie B Hawkins’ song saved me a bit, from that fear. I believed she meant what she sang. There was certainly nothing to gain from singing *that line back then.
(*I lay by the ocean making love to her with visions clear…)
These kids in this new GSA club in my old highschool, in that small town, sit in a room, once a week, after school and talk to each other. And that might be their only commonality. And it might be there only safe place. And that might be all it takes for some kid, a lot of kids, not to give up, in all of the ways there are to just. give. up.
I gave up. When the rumors started, I looked my best friend right in the eyes, in a hallway in my old high school, with my hands on her shoulders, and said, with all of my might, “I am not gay. It’s all a lie. I promise.” I was trying to save her too. Matthew Shepard haunted me. I had to give up a lot to survive.
I am going to another GSA meeting with my sweet GSA kiddos at my old school this month and will continue to as often as I can. I want to make sure they can see that support is everywhere. I want to make sure these kids, all of them, know they don’t have to do it the way I did. And I will continue to write about here (I promise to write about other things here too, I am well aware that Violet and the Seal are way more popular than I.) Also, I am looking for folks, with stories different from mine, like the fabulous woman who will get Cher’s spot tomorrow… stay tuned.