My middle school years were mostly friendless. It’s safe to say for the first year or so, I had no friends in high school, either. So, when I started having people over towards the end of my sophomore year of high school, my parents were excited for me—and definitely a little relieved. They were as happy as I was to see me find my place.
My friend group was a motley crew, seeing as we all had been the misfits. But we found a place with one another and spent our Friday nights gossiping and drinking sodas in my basement.
I got my driver’s license the summer before my junior year. After that, I was a part-time resident in my own home. If I had a night off, I’d spend it shopping with the girls or playing video games with the guys. If I had friends over, we’d disappear downstairs. My parents didn’t seem to mind.
Later in the year, though, I felt myself losing touch with them.
Family news seemed to bypass me. I wouldn’t hear about things as small as my mom’s haircut or as large as my grandmother’s surgery until they had already happened.
Feeling frustrated and a bit spurned, I remember snapping at my parents, “Why don’t you ever tell me anything?” To which they replied, “It’s because you’re never around!”
I didn’t distance myself because I loved or valued them any less. In hindsight, it was because I was scared. During my junior year of high school, I came to the realization that I was gay. That was a hard and confusing time.
Explaining my feelings to my parents was too great a task for me at the time.
However, all of my friends were in some way LGBT. They were able to empathize with me and stand steadfast while I discovered myself. In a way, they served as a family during that time. They were never a replacement for my parents or younger sister. Instead, they supplemented my family’s love and supported me in a different way—especially before I came out to my family.
Now, I find myself missing both my family and friends in my first year of college. Their pictures hang above my dorm room bed, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about them. I blossomed because of all of them. I found confidence because of them. They are both my families—whether by birth or by choice.