Dear High School Classmates
Dear High School Classmates,
I have known many of you since we were three. I remember all of the times we played on the jungle gym together. All of the sand castles we built in the sand pit. All of the projects we worked on together: book reports, science experiments with bottle rockets, and planting bean seeds that never ended up growing. We played hand bells together and tried to start a band. We struggled through French. I remember discussing books outside of class and laughing at our teachers’ silly antics. We went to all of those crazy Middle School dances and then Prom. We performed plays together: the Wizard of Oz, where we were bricks on the yellow brick road, Hamlet, for sophomore English class, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream on the main stage.
I remember all of the play dates where you came over to my house and we climbed trees, made up stories with my stuffed animals, and ate the popsicles my moms made. We sang along to songs in the car together on class field trips. We had so many sleepovers and trips to museums and excursions to playgrounds. We laughed and played together throughout our childhoods.
So what happened? What happened to those innocent children? Because I still remember them. I can still hear their laughter and their songs. But their voices faded at the end of high school. The talks and laughter faded away. Why?
When I was faced with what felt like the entire world against me and against my family, you did not stand next to me. You left me alone when an amendment was put on the ballot to change the state constitution to define marriage as only between one man and one woman. It left my family out and told me that my family was not okay. When you did not stand up for me or even stand with me, you shattered my innocence. You stopped talking to me when I stood up for my family. When I stood up in front of the entire high school and gave a speech, trying to make people understand the harms this amendment could have for my family, you did not stand with me. When I tried to start a club to stop this amendment and the school’s administration fought against my group, you did not stand with me. You showed me how cruel people can be and you taught me that I could not trust anybody to stay. You taught me that people would leave me because of my family. Many people have told me that gay marriage is a sin; that I am from a union that is illegal in many countries. And I had nobody to turn to in high school, nobody to talk to. You were supposed to be my friends, but when I needed you, you were not there.
You were fine with me, with my family, as long as I kept my mouth shut. As long as I did not talk about my differences and as long as I did not talk about all of the struggles my family went through, you accepted me. But what I did not realize was that you only accepted part of me. You were not accepting of my whole self because you did not accept my family, a fundamental part of who I am. And now, as I begin to figure out who I am, I realize it was you who showed me how awful people can be and it was you who made me feel like I am not allowed to question my own identity. I am not allowed because I told myself that if I am not straight, I would be proving you right. I would be proving you and everybody else who said that I had to be gay because of my parents, right. I would be proving those people who said that gay parents harm children and turn them gay, right. And I cannot do that. You showed me how awful it is for children of gay parents and you made me realize that I do not want that for my children. You have taught this to me and I have been struggling to unlearn this lesson that you pounded into my head since I was in first grade.
Every time I failed, I tried to hide it because I did not want people blaming my failures on my parents. I felt like I had disappointed everybody whenever I made a mistake and thought they would blame it on my parents. I tried so hard to prove to everybody that my family was perfect. I did not allow myself to make mistakes or get in trouble. I cried the first time I brought home a B on a report card in middle school. I thought that people would look at that B and see that I was not good enough and blame it on my parents. I tried so hard throughout my childhood to show people how normal and how wonderful my family is, I did not allow myself to make any mistakes. I wanted to prove to everybody that my family is wonderful. So I never allowed myself to question my family. I tried to keep this image of perfection so people could not blame my mistakes on how I was raised. It was exhausting and it turned me into someone who never allowed herself to make a mistake or take a minute to breathe. I pushed myself so hard, and when the amendment on the state ballot passed, I thought I had failed to protect my family. And when you turned against me; I broke. You broke me.
But now I don’t need you anymore. When I went to college I was shocked when I cautiously told people I had two moms and they did not stare or shy away from me. My friends in college tried to show me how normal it was and I tried to believe them, but I expected them to turn and run, just like you did. But unlike you, they didn’t. I am moving on and finding people who accept me and accept my family. Maybe you didn’t mean it and I would like to believe that. But I don’t know and I will probably never know. We have been friends since we were three and that is a long time. But I need to move on because you hurt me. You took my self-confidence from me and I am still trying to get it back. I will never be able to fully move on because you took 14 years of my life. You took those 14 years and I will never get them back. I will try and remember the good times, but they will always be tainted by the knowledge of your betrayal and abandonment. But you no longer have power over me. I am moving on and you are on the wrong side of history. Love will win and I know that I have a beautiful family and I can be whomever I want. You do not get to decide what my life is going to be like. I will not give you that power.