How to be openly gay in high school
I live in a liberal area with accepting parents, and I know that I am incredibly fortunate to be in a position where my safety is not theatened by being myself. This is the most important thing. Never, ever feel obligated to come out if doing so will endanger you. You are not lying by omission. You are protecting yourself. Your time will come. The fact that we have to hide ourselves in order to survive is painful, but true. Do what you have to do to stay alive.
Know how to protect yourself.
Just because I’m luckier than most doesn’t mean that being out is easy. You can live in the most liberal area and still have to encounter the occasional asshole who says it’s okay that he grabbed your ass because you’re gay, or the guy who calls you a dyke when you turn him down for a date. Arm yourself with reasons why you are valid and should be respected. Arm yourself with passion. (And pepper spray.)
Prepare to not be taken seriously.
No matter how many times you come out- which will be a lot, believe me- you will still be asked if you have a boyfriend. You will be asked if you’re absolutely sure you’re gay, especially if you’re a virgin, because how can you really be sure if you’ve never been with a woman? You will still be told that you can’t possibly have an opinion on whether or not Channing Tatum is hot because you’re gay. (By the way, he looks like a thumb. Please love yourselves.)
Prepare to be taken way too seriously.
My school has 2,000+ students in it, and for most of my friends and classmates, I am the only lesbian they know. Therefore, I am automatically the Ultimate Authority on All Things Gay. You will be on the receiving end of lots of nervous glances when people bring up gay issues, because they’re terrified that the Lone Lesbian will correct them. All heads will turn towards you if marriage equality comes up in a discussion of current events. You have to know the dates of the Stonewall Riots because I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked why Pride is in the middle of summer. You are assumed to have the responsibility of spokesperson. Because no one else around you is like you.
Get ready for invasive questions.
Prepare to be lonely.
It doesn’t matter how wonderful and supportive and empathetic your friends are. This is the sort of thing where you need someone who can understand what it’s like to be in your shoes. Being gay is a varied and personal experience, and it can be hard for people to understand what it’s like to not be universally accepted. It’s hard for people who aren’t like you to understand why you sobbed through every rehearsal of The Laramie Project, or why you’ve seen every episode of Orange is the New Black three times. It’s hard to feel like you fit in when all your friends are talking about going on dates with their boyfriends or when the prom DJ plays a slow song and you’re surrounded by couples that don’t look like yours.
Find your support group.
Talk to people at other schools. Talk to people outside of school. Talk to people online. Find someone you like and who gets your experiences. They will be your lifeline in an overwhelmingly heterosexual world. Join forums or blogging networks. Read Autostraddle. Talk to people. Hell, I will be your support group. Feel free to tweet me anytime.
Be proud of who you are.
No matter what your situation is, you are actively surviving in an incredibly difficult time- don’t give me any of that bullshit about how high school is the best years of your life. High school is a horrible place to be out. But if you can make it through this, you can make it through anything.
You do you.
If anybody thinks you’re too flamboyant or too passionate or too proud, fuck them. (Not literally though. Keep your standards high.)