We Are America

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Photo ofBaileigh McMahon

I don’t remember the day I realized it, but I do know that it was early on in my Sophomore year of high school. I knew that there was nothing wrong with me. I knew I was completely normal and healthy.  But I didn’t know how it would change my life or relationships with my friends and family. The first time I realized that I was sexually fluid, all I was aware of was that it didn’t have to be a big ordeal, and I refused to let it destroy my world. Obviously, it was a change in my life and I wanted to tell my family and friends, but I had to think about what it would mean for me and whether or not it would truly impact my relationships. In all honesty, I was terrified. I was terrified that some of my friends would think worse of me, and I was terrified that I would feel completely and utterly abandoned. However, after I thought more about the whole situation, I came to the realization that my friends and family love me, and they would never suddenly stop caring for me just because I love differently from them. They wouldn’t  stop loving me over something that I’ve always been, just never known.  One of the first people that I told is my best friend from elementary school, Jennie. I remember it was a weekend where I was staying the night at her house and I had no intention of telling her that soon, but I did. I took a little piece of scrap paper, and a pen. Then I wrote it down, folded it up, and passed it to her while looking away nervously. After a few seconds of silence, I looked over at her and noticed she had an amazed look on her face. She was shocked, and she thought that I was just joking, but when I didn’t laugh, she figured out that I was completely serious. In the moment, I was hurt, because I thought, “Why would she think I was joking?” and “Wow, I could use a little support here.” But I remembered that I am naturally a jokester, and it dawned on me that it would make sense if I was kidding. What she said next is something that I will be forever grateful for. She looked me in the eyes and said, “So? That doesn’t change how much I love you, stupid.” And that was it.  In under 3 months, I had revealed my sexuality to all of my close friends. One of my other best friends, Isabel, was the second person that I told. My approach this time was different: I simply said, “I’m not straight.” She just smiled and started laughing, like she always does in serious situations. That girl is one of my closest friends and I’ll always be appreciative of her goofy and light-hearted reaction, because it was normal, and I was normal, even though I had been struggling to come to terms with my sexual orientation for months.  As for my family, I didn’t make it into a weighty topic, because I didn’t think I should be obligated to “come out,” as they say. I don’t regret informing my friends of my sexual identity the way that I did, but I didn’t want to have to do that with my family. I decided to let what happens happen, because personally, I no longer find it relevant. I’m comfortable with myself and my family is also comfortable with me. 

© Baileigh McMahon. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.