I came out two days after graduation. I had reached a point where I was comfortable with myself and telling people about who I was. Yet, I knew that I didn’t want to come out during high school because high school (sometimes) sucks.
I always had plenty of friends during school, some who are my favourite people to this day but I spent a few years as a bit of a floater.
I felt emasculated when I sat with the guys because I was in constant fear that I would out myself or someone would out me and I again felt emasculated when I sat with girls because it wasn’t typical to be the only guy in a circle filed with girls.
This left me wandering around the quad saying hey to every man and their dog whilst chewing on my hash-brown roll most recesses.
These problems seem so futile now, but at the time it was a real cause of anxiety. I never had a lack of friends but I sometimes had a lack of a crew.
I always thought about what it would be like to be straight during high school. It was always such a foreign concept to me that some people never had to question their sexuality, that their straightness was a given.
I was constantly trying to figure out who I was and who I liked every day for basically a decade and it was tiring.
What was even more tiring is when being gay was brought up in conversation. There’s a collection of memories from high school that I’ll never forgot because my fear of being outed was so intense.
In Year 9, a friend told me he didn’t agree with same sex marriage whilst in Commerce.
In Year 11, a friend asked me if I thought a lesbian couple were going to kiss at her party.
In Year 12, in the midst of the marriage equality campaign, all my friends sat around at pre’s talking about how they were all supportive of the yes vote.
Whilst this was extremely heartening I was still on edge.
This sort of overthinking and anxiety leaves LGBTQI+ teens behind in terms of experiencing a standard high school experience.
I never got the chance to have a gross first kiss at a high school party.
I never got the chance to ask a boy to Year 10 formal.
Because I came out two days after graduating, I never actually got the chance to be who I was during high school.
This lack of archetypal teenage moments can leave people who identify as part of the LGBTQI+ community stunted, having to figure out this particular part of life after they’re comfortable or safe enough to come out.
Yes, there’s much more to a person than being gay but because it informs such a large part of how I think, it’s upsetting that I was never able to experience being out during school; in my head, it just wasn’t an option.
I truly believed that a large chunk of my friends were going to stop hanging out with me and that everyone around me was going to look at me completely differently.
In reality I was extremely lucky and me coming out was a huge anti-climax. After coming out, I would always joke with mum that I shouldn’t have to unpack the dishwasher because I was gay, but she (rudely!!) never budged.
My years in high school have been some of best of my fairly short life thus far. I’ve made friends for life and there’s memories that I’ll forever hold deeply.
But, there will always be a feeling of sadness that I was never truly comfortable during high school.
Comparatively, my story is far less tragic than LGBTQI+ people who lived generations before me and I’ll be forever grateful for the work that was done to make my life so much easier than people before me.
My happiness lies in knowing that whilst homophobia has been ever-present, it has an expiry date.
We’re not there yet but we’ll get there and being open and empathetic (or, in simpler terms, just not being a dickhead) is good start.