“I love you.” I sent with shaky fingertips.
I paced around my small living room, narrowly missing the coffee table each time I passed it. Seconds felt like minutes and minutes felt like hours. I sat the phone on the coffee table and my eyes looked everywhere but on the screen.
The TV talked to itself. Maybe it was on ESPN and chances are they were talking about LeBron. I have no clue because I couldn’t hear anything but my heart beating rapidly. It filled my ears, leaving no room for anything else. Dread formed a lead brick in the pit of my stomach. Why on earth did I send that? Every inch of me wished I could take it back.
My screen lit up. “I love you too!” She responded; I could almost see her smiling too.
It couldn’t have been more than five minutes, but it felt like a week had passed by. The dread was washed away by a shower of relief. It was a Thursday night, and for the first time since Elementary school I couldn’t wait to get to school in the morning.
I went to school with incomplete homework in my backpack and butterflies in my stomach. She went from being just a classmate to the person I looked for every morning. I learned about how her smile reached her eyes and could light up even the dimmest rooms. I learned about how her laugh could cure the worst case of sadness. I saw the school version of her in the daytime, but it was during the night where I got to see glimpses of the real her — the unguarded parts of her.
As time passed, we became close.
I learned about her dreams and her favorite movies. I learned how to tell when she was upset about something and how hard it was to get it out of her.
She learned about parts of me that I wouldn’t dare show anyone. I was doing things for her that I’d never do like asking someone for a MacBook charger or waiting in a crowded hallway for her. However, a part of me felt like I was lying to her. She knew about my chronic illnesses and my anxiety, and she never judged me once. She didn’t mind that I didn’t talk much or when I wrote her something and slipped it to her.
Despite her always welcoming me, I couldn’t bring myself to tell her I was transgender.
Actually, no one in my high school knew — and I had no intentions of telling them. I didn’t owe any of them anything. I didn’t have to “come out” to them. It felt different with her, though. I began to feel guilty about not letting her know.
I graduated that year, and she still had one more year to go. We remained close — I blew her phone up until she responded to me and she never voiced any frustration about it.
A year later and I still hadn’t told her I was transgender. I told my grandmother first, and she said nothing but positive things. I was scared. No–I was terrified. People lose friends and family members once they find out about them being anything other than straight.
Not being accepted by someone you love is one of the most hurtful things a person can experience.
I was petrified that she wasn’t going to love me anymore.
One Saturday morning, I wrote a long note addressed to her in my notebook.
I cried the whole time. This was going to be the day I lost my best friend; I just knew it. I typed the note into my notes app on my phone and cried some more. I felt like I couldn’t hide it from her anymore. I read through it again; it was a notebook page and a half long.
With trembling fingers, I copied and pasted it in our message thread and pressed send before I could change my mind. I was crying before, but now I was bawling my eyes out. I was so busy being heartbroken over the thought of losing my best friend that I didn’t realize she replied. It couldn’t have been more than five minutes after I sent it.
“Whatever you plan on doing with your life, I support you 100%. Do whatever makes you happy and that will make me happy. It’s okay to be different. Different is better and it’s what sets you aside from everyone else that tries to be who they’re not. If that’s what you want, then I say go for it!” –My best friend
I’ve been lucky enough to have her in my life for three and a half years now.
It will be four this October. She’s been nothing but supportive and insistent on me pursuing whatever makes me happy. She’s amazing, and she reads all of my writing. I could write a whole other post about how amazing she is, but I won’t (yet).
One of the scariest moments of my life turned out to be one of the best ones. I printed this text out and put it in a picture frame. I took out a picture of Jimmy Butler to put her text in the frame. I still have it after all this time. Every time I come to her with concerns about her changing her mind about loving me, she never hesitates to calm my swarm of thoughts and reassure me. She told me she’d still love me even if I was a bird. If I ever wake up as a bird, I know who I can fly to.
Having a great support system is crucial when it comes to identifying as someone in the LGBTQ community.
In a world that constantly tries to mold you into something you’re not and then make your life hell when you refuse, supportive friends and unconditional love is like a mug of hot chocolate on a snowy day.
Bullying is as common as ants in a puddle of melted ice cream on a sidewalk.
Mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are far too common as a consequence of consistent verbal and physical abuse. Sometimes parents, who are supposed to be the first people to love you unconditionally, become the worst enemies you never thought you’d encounter.
I can’t find an accurate enough blob of words to describe how grateful I am that I haven’t experienced a lot of negative feedback when I came out. I understand that my experience is a rare one. However, the anxiety I had during this experience as well as every other “coming out” experience is what most people feel when they come out to a loved on.
We’re terrified of not being accepted, and we shouldn’t have to be. We shouldn’t have to fear being unloved by the people who claim to love us unconditionally. People are afraid of their own family members’ reactions.
We’re the same person we were before we revealed what we identified as.
How can you stop loving us after a few words? How can your so-called unconditional love turn into bitter disgust in the blink of an eye? How can you be okay with breaking your own kid’s heart?
I don’t understand it, and I probably never will. It’s inexcusable. Everyone deserves to be accepted and loved for who they are.