How I Came Out
The day of my high school graduation was very much awaited. I had surveyed my classmates to choose a class King and Queen. We were all throwing a party in conjunction that we planned with months of anticipation. We raised money to fund it, selling tickets, hosting events and bake sales. It was a time where everyone was allowed to talk shit about parents because they were trying to have their take on our celebration (i.e: demanding that no alcohol was served) But we made it ours and managed to have all kinds of booze in it. Parents, friends, teachers, extended family, the whole school, and basically everyone was gonna be there.
The first bottle of champagne was popped after the commencement ceremony. We toasted for our futures. Many of us were leaving the country, but we vowed to stay in touch and be friends forever.
I graduated from a fairly small school with a class of 31 students. We were divided in two groups: 11 of us belonged to a group that studied humanities, while the remaining 20 studied sciences. I belonged to the tightest group, Humanities, and we were often mocked for having a classroom the size of a shoe-box.
We took pictures with our Blackberries and took turns to have our headshots taken. Family and clique pictures were not avoided. Humanities took their frame and Sciences did as well. It felt emotionally elevated, if anything a moment we wanted to record for it to be played over and over.
After commencement I went home to toast again with my family. I received many presents and calls of congratulations. One would have thought that graduating from high school was no biggie, but it really felt like a milestone; and boy was it going to be.
By the time I got to the party I was already drunk. The glasses of champagne kept on coming. I wore my best dancing shoes because I knew I was gonna be in it all night. My girlfriends surrounded me and I groped them to the dirty beat of reggaeton. We laughed out loud.
I lost count of how many glasses of champagne I had had. I couldn’t avoid bringing up the subject of my sexuality. Many of my friends knew because I had a massive crush on a fellow classmate named Luis. I cried thanking them for accepting me. The night went on and I kept telling everyone, even my teachers! But most embarrassingly I grabbed Luis and told him I loved him.
It was a little before midnight and I finally sat down to dine with my parents. I can not remember if they were drunk as well, but my mother’s comment struck me annoyingly:
“Dear — you know when you are dancing with your girlfriends — you gotta kiss them.”
“Oh shut up, mom” I responded. “I don’t even like girls”
An eerie silence followed, she grabbed my hand and looked me in the eye.
“What do you like then?”
I broke down crying into her shoulder, told her I liked boys and how nervous I was to tell her. It had all been trapped in my chest since last summer when I had my coming-of-gayge in San Francisco. I had never been with a boy then but I just knew; I have had crushes on boys since Pre-K. I had come out to my friends the first time I got tipsy. They sat me down and asked me if I liked Luis because I wouldn’t stop asking about him. I kept it on the down-low and convinced myself that I was going through a stage or that I might be bisexual. It was in San Francisco where I developed crushes on a few gay strangers that I tried to get with but was not brave enough to make a move. I cried my eyes out listening to Miley Cyrus’s “My Heart Beats For Love” on the plane back home, facing the perpetual truth of my gayness and my need to stand up for it.
And there I was, crying in my mom’s shoulder. She grabbed me and told me not to tell anyone. “Too late” I said. I stood up from the table, it was time to announce the King and Queen of the class of 2011. I got the envelopes from a teacher who counted the votes. I took the stage with microphone in hand. I greeted the public and introduced the contest.
“And the Queen of this year’s graduating class is… ME!!!”
Although I wish I had done that, I was actually barely able to announce the winners. As soon as I got up stage almost everyone followed to take the microphone from me, alarmed that I would inform the whole party about my sexuality.
My friends Val and Eduardo won the prices, the party went on until 4 am. Even though a hell lot more crying and confusion followed I couldn’t help but feel relieved. I had taken a huge weight off my chest. I came out to the people I cared about the most, and for once in my life I felt free and alight.