Not Alone

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I was single when I was introduced to Maddie in an LGBT networking event on campus. I was in the middle of studying for three back-to-back finals then, and she was a business graduate student. I noticed her immediately; she was tall, with long blond hair tied into a ponytail and bright blue eyes that appeared to light up the room. I stared at her from a safe distance, and after a lot of convincing from my friend (and maybe some liquid courage) I positioned myself in her space and after introductions, we gave each other our numbers.
I saw her again later that evening (or night rather, it was around 8 or 9 pm). The friend I went with had already started to head home. Being the only familiar person left, she walked up and we talked for a while. One thing seemed to lead to another, and pretty soon I heard myself (I felt like I was having an out of body experience) inviting her to my dorm.
 She smelled really nice, that much I could remember. Anything else I don’t because apparently, I fell asleep while she was talking.
(I was cramming around 300 pages of tiny text every day. I swore I was just going to close my eyes for a few seconds.)
So anyway, long story short, I woke up to a bright morning light coming through the thin university-issue curtains, and I saw her sitting across from me on my black chair a few feet away from where I was lying on the couch. I immediately realized that I had fallen asleep, and I apologized while feeling extremely embarrassed. She smiled at me and told me she didn’t mind. She said that she was glad that I didn’t talk that much before falling asleep.
 
With anyone else, I would have laughed out loud because that sounded so cheesy, but somehow she managed to pull it off. I felt like I was falling in love with her already.
I asked her if I could make her anything to eat for breakfast. She said that it was already a little past lunchtime. I checked my watch and saw that it was already 1:30pm. My face turned a bright red. This whole situation was just so mortifying.
So we walked down to her car, and headed to Tyler Mall and grabbed lunch at one of the small restaurants there. She was extremely easygoing and really charming such that the whole date (was it a date?) passed by in a very comfortable and relaxed way. It was getting fairly late in the afternoon before I realized how much time had passed without me realizing. I told her that I needed to study for my classes because midterms were right around the corner, and she said that she understood. She drove me back to my dorm and hugged me goodbye.
On the way back to my dorm, she asked me quite bluntly if what had happened between us (or not happened) was a one time deal, or if I had wanted to see if I wanted to take our date to the next level. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t how to explain how to explain that she was too good for me and that I didn’t feel like I deserved her. Or that even though I thought she was amazing I didn’t think I wanted anything more. She was amazing, but at the time, I wasn’t ready for anybody to be in my life. And after getting to know her, I didn’t want to lie to her and lead her on. I didn’t want to be “that person” in her life who lied to her about what I was looking for in a relationship.
And for whatever reason, I told her all of that. She said she understood.
***
I saw her again about a year later during another event campus. As things would have it, we were both still single, and she was still as pretty as I had remembered. I asked her how she was doing, and she said that her friends had asked her to move to New York to start a small business with them. She had thought about it and decided it was worth a chance. I told her that I was happy for her, and I truly was. She deserved to be happy and achieve her dreams. We talked some more, and it was as if we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in a long time, not strangers who had one date and (almost) a one night stand.
She asked me if I had come with anyone. I said that I had come with a friend, but she had left. She met with someone that she knew from another event, and they had gone somewhere else. I told Maddie that I was alone at this event, which was kind of lame and pathetic. And she told me “Of course you’re not alone. You’re here, with me.”
I smiled at her and forced myself to looked away. To this day I’ll never know how she managed to pull off these cheesy lines.
It’s been almost three years since I’ve met Maddie, but I never saw her again. But to me, she will always be that girl who reminded me that I was not alone.
 

Coming Out

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The process of “coming out” as LGBT is an extremely personal act, but of course, in many countries around the world, including the United States, it is a political one as well.

My life would honestly be much easier if I just shut up about my sexuality. If I just stop talking about how much I liked girls, or grew my hair out to an “acceptable” length for a girl, or just stopped. And to be honest, I exhibit enough heteronormative traits to pass myself off as a straight woman (if I grew my hair out of course). But whenever I think about just making my life easier and pass myself off as someone straight, I remember myself in middle school, a scrawny 12-year-old girl with braces and headgear.

I remember being bullied for being that “lesbo” or “gay”. I have had the words “fag” been thrown at me. I have had food thrown in my direction at the cafeteria, and I’ve been thrown against the wall while walking down the hallway. I remember feeling completely and utterly alone, not daring to tell my best friend or my parents what was going on at school. Because, in my mind, being that “lesbo” meant not having any friends or people who care about you. I remember wanting to die before I let anybody find out that I wanted to spend my life with another girl instead of a guy.

As I remember my experiences before I came out, I try to be as visible as I possibly can because I know from personal experience that I would have vastly appreciated (as someone who didn’t even realize I was gay) to see someone like me own her sexuality and live life that was not in denial. I would have loved to see someone live without fear of judgement from others.

So a bit of advice for the young LGBT people out there, whether you have realized your own truth yet or not: your sexuality does not own you, nor does it define you. I’m 22 now, and I’ve been where you are right now. I remember being scared and calling my best friend in the middle of the night and telling her that I was gay while crying and (literally) shaking with fear of how she would react. The LGBT community is blessed with some of the most creative minds in the world, but we are also bankers, athletes, lawyers, doctors, scientist, farmers, and much more. LGBT people are everywhere, and we can be anyone.

So, at the end of the day, remember this: you can be anyone you want to be. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise based off of nothing but this one trait.