When I was four, my cousin and I would play house. She was always the wife, and I was the husband. I didn’t want to be the wife, because I thought I’d have to wear a dress, and dresses were icky.

When I was seven, I kissed a girl for the first time and felt something I’d never felt before. My mother caught us, and screamed in my face. I lied and said we were only playing, and I promptly forgot the feeling I had when I kissed her. The fear was too strong.

When I was eleven, I had a best friend who I loved very much. I didn’t know I loved her, but I knew a few things. She was smart, and beautiful, and the most amazing person I had ever met. She had a boyfriend. I hated him.

When I was eleven, I heard my stepmother (who I respected more than anyone) say, “Fags like that are going to hell.” I instantly became aware that being a “fag” was a bad thing in her eyes. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Two of my best friends pulled a prank on us, telling our group that they were gay and dating. I called them several different slurs, and didn’t speak to them for days.

When I was eleven, I told my best friend I loved her for the first time. Like a sister, of course.

When I was twelve, my best friend went to Europe for the summer. In August, I called her house almost every day to ask if she was home yet. I had a picture of her as my phone background. I brought her a gift and gave it to her after her first time marching during a football game. She broke up with her boyfriend. I was happy, until she started dating a sophomore. He was two years older than her. I had crushes on guys, but it was nothing compared to the intense feelings I had for my friend. I began writing in my diary about it, censoring certain words so my parents wouldn’t know if they read it. I hated myself for what I felt. I began to self harm. I retreated from my parents and their company. I began to act out in school, going so far as to get myself suspended.

I moved schools.

I thought, maybe, it would get easier if I couldn’t see her. Maybe I would start liking boys like I was supposed to. I tried to like boys, tried to flirt- but my heart was never in it. I moved schools again.

When I was 13, I met a boy named Tre. I started to date him a few weeks after we met. I think he knew that I was using him before I ever told him. I eventually came out, and was honest with my friends. My parents still didn’t know. I fell into a major depression, and I contemplated suicide. There was a major incident involving the police at one point. My eighth grade year is all a painful blur; I was bullied badly, my parents no longer understood me, and those who had once called me a friend were now threatening to kill me if I spoke to them. I was disgusting to them.

I’m now a senior in high school, and I have come a long way. It took a lot of work, a change of schools, and good friends who accepted me for who I am. My parents know now that I’m gay, and while it took a while, they’ve accepted it. More importantly, I’ve accepted myself. I still struggle with depression, and with those who try to bully them, but I don’t let them hinder me in my mission. I aim to become the best person I can possibly be. This fall, I will go to college, and begin my adult life as a proud and happy LGBT individual.

I Don’t Do Boxes (IDDB) is an independent magazine produced by and for LGBTQ+ Southern youth during Elsewhere’s program QueerLab. Since 2013, QueerLab has provided a safer space to develop dialogue around LGBTQ+ experiences through youth-led multimedia projects and an annual ‘zine. IDDB Issue No. 5: “OutLaws” celebrates cultural and political deviance, as well as our LGBTQ+ siblings who have been criminalized or erased all together.

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