Middle School is terrifying.
Our bodies go through changes we don’t quite understand – or want – that make us targets for our peers. It’s a time where many of us feel awkward and different – sometimes isolated and alone. I’ll be the first to admit that this is absolutely true of my 6th grade self.
I watched my peers socialized into ridiculous faux-relationships that consisted of strange rituals such as holding hands during lunch period and going on dates to 7 o’clock movies where their parents chauffeured them around.
In every circumstance, those pairings were a boy and a girl, which was confusing to me because I honestly was more interested in the boys in my grade. Keep in mind, my school was religiously affiliated so, while we individually may have felt different, my middle school reflected and reinforced homogeneity.
I was afraid to talk to anyone about the feelings I had to avoid being marked as “different”. I felt isolated, alone and confused. I was carrying this impossible secret at 11 years old, trying to make sense of it on my own. I spent more nights than I’d like to admit praying that I didn’t have these feelings; that I could just be “normal”.
The one thing I wanted above all else was someone to talk to. There very well may have been supportive teachers in my religiously-affiliated school, but because they never made it visibly known to me, they might as well not have existed. Had one of my teachers said those three simple words (Talk to me), it would’ve helped make me not feel so alone. We cannot underestimate the impact that straight, ally teachers can have.
I won’t go into too much detail about my personal struggle because I recognize how privileged I am to be 10 + years on the other side of it and be able to write this post.
Not all queer youth are that lucky.