This past week I was invited back to my high school to speak at their Career Fair. Getting the chance to talk about my organization is a great opportunity and hopefully it will be a great chance to build a long-lasting and sustainable partnership.
I should be excited but instead I’m filled with dread and experiencing flashbacks from my adolescence. Most of my stress dreams from the past several years involve me having to go back to high school to take classes and being completely lost.
Like a lot of people, high school was a difficult time for me. I wasn’t out to myself yet but I knew that there was something ‘different’ about me. This made me a target for teasing and general meanness. For an all-girls Catholic school there were some progressive teachers, but we still had groups come in to say that Gay people didn’t exist because God didn’t make mistakes. And I won’t even get into the terrible abstinence only sex education I got. There was a lot of stress at school and at home – ten years ago I was dealing with self-harm, ignoring my depression for several years, and living with a recovering addict in the family.
Going back in its self is scary. Going back and being out is terrifying. I’m not going to be waving rainbow flags as I go through the school, but I can’t honestly go back and talk about my non-profit experiences without putting it in a queer context.
How I operate in the United States and abroad is greatly influenced by my sexuality, but honestly just the thought of being completely open around a bunch of nuns is giving me massive anxiety.
However, I know how oppressive that school can be if you think you are the only strange or different person pressured to follow a set of rules that just doesn’t fit who you are. It’ll be worth it if there is just one queer girl who knows that someone before her survived, and then thrived after leaving high school behind.
There are so many queer narratives that are blatantly ignored in Catholic high schools (and schools in general). Hopefully my presence and my stories can at least spark the smallest of positive conversations.