When I arrived at my old high school for the Career Fair I was extremely nervous to say the least. I hadn’t been back in many years, and I surely wasn’t out to anyone there. At this point, I really didn’t care if people know that I’m a lesbian, but something about coming in front of the whole student body, plus the nuns terrified me.
What if they made me leave? What if there was snickering? Every possible terrible scenario ran through my head. And then I started doubting myself.
What was the point of coming out to the panel? Was I just bringing up my queerness just to bring it up? Would it serve any purpose, or would it hurt my organization’s chances of working with the school?
After sitting through other people talk about their children and their husbands, I knew that I had every right to mention my supportive girlfriend. Mentioning her did not mean I was making some big political statement, I was acknowledging that I had someone in my life who supports me while I work within my non-profit.
When I mentioned her, the most amazing thing happened. Absolutely nothing. I kept talking, without murmurings or snickers, or no nuns chasing me off the stage. It just happened, without fanfare or consequence.
I still don’t look back at my high school years with kindness. Even if I was out to myself at the time it would have been nearly impossible to be out and feel safe there. But at least now they can have an openly gay former student talk about their non-profit and the work that it does – showing queer kids that you’ll survive that school, and when you do, you can do amazing things.