Seventeen Years of a Beautiful Life

Note: yes, this is a story, but also a conversation. I can’t guarantee 100% interest on your part, maybe not even 80%. It has been 17 years in the making, and not much in here should be taken lightly. That being said, I’d recommend your favorite non-alcoholic drink or a bowl of popcorn to accompany you on my journey.

If you’re not a fan of popcorn, make a bowl anyway. I’ll take it.

Note the second: this is a coming out story. Involves mention and description of several types of sexual orientation. If you’re fairly young or don’t feel comfortable reading it, I recommend you skip over certain parts. Otherwise, you’re going in informed.

As of a couple days ago, I had never planned on writing this up to share. Coming out as lesbian was really just a personal thing. A huge step for me, of course, but coming out in 2012 is a far cry from coming out in the US 15 years ago, or even ten. A grand majority of my friends and peers had already known or heavily suspected. My hometown is small, but I’m mostly associated with Rockford now, where it’s no big deal to be of an alternate orientation. What would it matter my reasons for hiding? Better yet, why bother telling what happened when there were a plethora of more trying stories out there? Let’s start that investigation at a good place to start.

The beginning.

I had grown up identifying most closely with my older brothers. They helped foster my love of rough housing, climbing trees, playing capture the flag in the woods, being the scrappy basketball and soccer player. Most days after my homework was done, I was writing stories on the blank pages disguised as seven and a half acres of woodland, or conjuring up adventures in the backyard treehouse. I never took to Barbies like my sister did, and whenever we played Dress Up, I’d usually have some sort of natural element in it, like a fashionable feather hat. I’d find out much later that she had always wanted to be able to help a little sister with clothes and makeup and hair. Instead I was solving mazes and figuring out computer games and learning Dungeons & Dragons from our other two siblings, and I couldn’t be happier.

Until I had to go back to school, that is. Because I was smart, athletic, goofy, and an all-around good person, that made me a target for bullies. I didn’t want to be considered a teacher’s pet, but most of them seemed like really cool people, so why not help them out, pay attention in class, and make their lives a little easier? I had a close group of friends of the same mindset, and we ended up in Girl Scouts together. We liked the outdoors and camping and playing Tag with a passion at recess. I made friends through soccer too, and had overnights sometimes with one family at their pond. The moments of reprieve outside of my small town school were like heaven.

As we got older and became more individual, the ridicule just got worse. Sometimes I’d cry myself to sleep at night, and I started hanging out with girls and boys in the younger grades because they accepted me more easily. Many days I didn’t even want to go to school. I look back at pictures now and think that maybe some of my friends saw something different about me. In my journals, I wrote about feeling overprotective, very defensive of my girl friends, and I think that’s where my coming out originally started. In movies and books and stories, I wanted to be the hero, the one that got the girl. I was well aware about lesbians through stories and fan fiction on the internet, something I obviously hid well from my family. My first exposure was the story Accidental Love by BL Miller, and I reasoned because I skipped over the explicit parts that I really wasn’t lesbian, that falling asleep with the woman (or man, I was unsure yet—I did crush on some of my male classmates) of my dreams was the most I would ever want out of life. It was my early way of justifying that I wasn’t a lesbian, because I was more interested in the companionship and emotions, the intellectual challenge, and the comfort of physical contact.

Religion was a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. I didn’t see the point in church, thought it was utterly boring, and while I got through confirmation classes by treating them like just another school subject, I really wasn’t behind the ideology and giving up hours of my Sunday. Sermons bored me, and I had to wear skirts sometimes (I point you to the opening paragraphs on why that requirement would turn me away from church). ELCA Lutheran doesn’t have an opinion being homosexual, but at the time, I thought all Christians followed the Bible word for word, and that spoke against what I thought I might be. I went through the motions for my mom’s benefit, never truly standing behind the beliefs or stories that the good book insists happened thousands of years ago. If dragons were fantasy, how do we know a man actually came back from the dead? The things that spoke loudest to me were the traditions and art—getting up before dawn Easter morning, midnight Christmas Eve service, or the lofty, stone carvings on cathedrals, incredibly beautiful stained glass.

Yet outside of all those feelings (or maybe because of them, who knows), along comes one of the strongest bonds my sister and I ever had. Before I got to middle school, I’d see her come home crying because of bullies—the same reasons I was. Sure she was a cheerleader, but far from the airhead that most of her teammates were, and she was a rough and tumble club soccer player just the same. I didn’t realize then what was waiting for me. By the time I was in her shoes, it was hard to remember that she had ever been in the same position, and “clearly” her advice that it’d get better, to turn the other cheek, to stick to my guns just wasn’t going to work. My mom didn’t know anything about it either. Nope. I was without a doubt the only person who had gone through this.

The light at the end of the tunnel ended up being my sister’s Girl Scout troop, or a Mariner Ship. For the unaware, mariners was a nautical high adventure type of Girl Scouts back in the 60s. They’re no longer official now, but that’s what my sister’s troop called themselves anyway. She came back from events in the summer with all these stories and ribbons, and those same friends gave her a shield in high school against the idiotic classmates. Her life was grand, and I thought the ship could help me too. I just had to make it through a couple years, and I was home free.

Surprisingly, unlike so many other things in my life, that’s how it happened. My friends in scouts had other friends, and soon I had a bigger circle that were music geeks, female athletes, honors students, and even “work hard, play hard” girls who liked everything about me that the bullies hated. From the moment I entered my freshman year, high school was leaps and bounds better than what I had endured, and I was beyond ecstatic. But, and this is a big but, I had come to the conclusion that I was in fact not straight. I realized those feelings I had were romantic feelings, and while it never really manifested in a physical way, I was more than certain guys wouldn’t cut it for me. I had bargained my way into another step: I wasn’t a lesbian because I wasn’t big into sex, and I was still kind of normal because I did feel attractions for  guys. So that was still better than being lesbian.

What was I supposed to do? This great group of girls had just saved me from the nightmares of middle school. How was I going to further ostracize myself from them by admitting that I liked girls? They wouldn’t understand I wasn’t attracted to them, nor want them in a sexual way. I knew I was in our Girl Scout ship for life, and I looked forward to the years I’d have ahead of me. Those older girls, my sister included, were mentors and peers, and friends. If I told anyone this, they wouldn’t trust me anymore. I’d have to shower at different times, and sleep in a tent by myself, and no one would want to hug me, and everyone would second guess any intention I had of being supportive because I might try to kiss them, or worse. I was already crushing on a female classmate, and there’s no way I’d be able to escape lapsing back into being made fun of again. This wasn’t something I could ever change.

So I didn’t change anything, and did all the stereotypical things. I tried to ignore it. I told myself if I find the right guy, it’ll go away and I won’t have to ever worry about it again. Readers that’ve been in my shoes right now are thinking, “HA! Like THAT works.” I was a fairly closeted girl socially, outside of my own circle of Geeks. I was “the only one of my kind,” I thought, so how was I supposed to know differently? I’d get really emotional at times, and visualize myself dating a girl, sweeping her off her feet with romantic gestures and words. Though always, ALWAYS I repeated in my head, to the point of deafening my deeper feelings, that it was ok ‘cause I didn’t want to escalate it to sex. To be honest, I was only romantically attracted to maybe two or three girls throughout all of high school. Not really physically either, because going there would not only cheapen the genuine feelings I had, but also meant I was a lesbian. I was even incredibly nervous in the locker room, or watching movies or commercials with scantily clad women, convinced that someone would figure me out. I’d read more stories and daydream when feelings got too strong, but never showed anything in public.

One desperate night, when I was so frustrated with the past couple years, I made an internet search for lack of sexual attraction. Thus I found AVEN, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, where I found asexuality was EXACTLY WHAT I HAD BEEN THINKING. I was home. It was such a relief to find that there WAS a definition for me, and most importantly, that I wasn’t alone. That this thing in my head and heart was supposed to be there, that I wasn’t making excuses against not wanting sex. It topped the feeling of getting to high school and away from the jerks that made so many years a living hell. I began to read others’ stories in the background, because signing up on their forums would leave a trail that someone would find someday, and then my friends and family would question everything I ever did or said or wrote.

If you haven’t caught on yet, paranoia is a frequent mistress of people who don’t want to come out. Due to this musing being partly stream of consciousness, it’ll undoubtedly continue to crop up from time to time. Apologies if it annoys the readers, though it gives a much more accurate idea of what my head was like through this period of my life. But I digress…

Despite being the only internet savvy one in our house, I was convinced that somehow, some way, a random person would find out, and news would spread. That’s how it always happened in the movies, and I was far from lucky with my life thus far, so undoubtedly, such would come to pass. When I built my own PC just before going off to college, I was a little better, in that I could customize and no one else would be on it. A small step for my head noise.

I went to a small liberal arts university, miles more liberal than what I had grown up in, much more like I felt the world should be. Unfortunately, that got me more exposure to other identities and orientations, and while I was undoubtedly supportive and happy for my friends in their relationships, I was a little jealous that they were able to accomplish that. What held me back was still Girl Scouts. I had planned on returning after college, and to someday lead the ship, and who would want to join a troop where the main leader was gay? I looked at all the adults, parents, girls, and alumnae volunteers who came and went, and was confused at why I was the only one who wanted to stick around to give back. If the ship was to survive, then my happiness had to take a back seat.

To most, that seems like an invalid argument. “It’s Girl Scouts, how important or rewarding could a volunteer position ACTUALLY be?” And I get it. Not many who live outside of our ship understand. In fact, that’s one of the first comments all the newbies make every year at our rededication ceremony, or even our veterans giving their first impression of joining. Deep down, one of my greatest wishes is to help make this world better, to not be forgotten after I’m dead or gone, to have a legacy like Washington or Caesar or the Dhali Lama that would last through the ages. The US has congresswomen, judges, police officers, FBI agents, ambassadors who’ve been through Girl Scouts. Our ship can DO that! It teaches invaluable life lessons that are passed over in high school, and we get to help facilitate that. Heck, the girls themselves help facilitate that.

So, I pose that idea again. How would YOU like to have a front row seat to see the start of the movie called, “Changing the World One Girl at a Time”? I’m truly honored and humbled that I get to be a part of these girls’ formative years. There are many times I think they teach me more than I do them.

I had some romantic thoughts for a couple women during college—eventually told one of them after coming out, but otherwise never acted on any of it. Just stayed the same, trapped in my head. Over that period of time, I concluded I leaned heavily, if not completely, toward being attracted to women. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t as simple as few sentences. Mind you, this was FOUR YEARS of self-imposed single status, living in fear and yet hoping some for a miracle, thinking that this was all I could ever do. And this was not only on top of the four years of high school, but these were in a liberal environment, where I encountered people living the life I wanted to several times every day. I dated one man, a genuine, honest, romantic, but I just couldn’t reciprocate the level of emotion he was feeling after such a short time. I once worked tech crew for our annual drag show, and the Emcee made several comments while I was out adjusting speakers and lights on stage, calling me “butch.” She invited me to the after party—specifically interrupted her own conversation to do so. I was incredibly tempted, toying with this idea that maybe I could come out. Right then and there.

Nope. Chickened out and went back to my dorm. Life stayed the same.

I started a chapter of Dagorhir, a fantasy-medieval reenactment group as a freshman, had a blast with my friends, and got to attend our national weeklong event Ragnarok the summer before senior year. And wow, was that a whole new world. Now, I’m a huge fantasy geek. Read The Hobbit as a kid, watched Flight of Dragons and Redwall: the Animated Series incessantly, loved Terry Brooks, went to all the midnight premieres of Lord of the Rings. But to walk through a valley in my homemade garb, cloak casting shadows in the full moon light, falling asleep to drum rhythms in my ears and firelight dancing on my tent walls, passing an evening listening to bards by torchlight. I WAS the character I wanted to be. Sadly, there was a bit more chauvinism than I hoped, but my fighting, characterization, and toughness sure turned heads during my first year. Overall, it was much more liberal than our campus, which made me happier to see grown men and women in homosexual relationships, and sad that that was still out of range for me.

Not much changed after graduation. I moved back to my hometown, dated a couple guys, really felt I could make it work with one of them, but taking that next step in our relationship was something I knew I couldn’t do. And still, every summer at Ragnarok (or really, at every Dag event), I would live for every second of every day in bliss, getting enough exposure and close enough to a world where I knew I would be unbelievably happy and accepted. Many times I dreamed about what it would be like. That would always make me smile. Seven years ago, I would see my now girlfriend for the very first time, and feel myself go speechless. Thankfully that year we solidified our alliance with her chapter by helping them through the monstrous floods, meaning I had plenty of excuses to come by their camp.

Of course there was nothing I could pursue, I told myself, and yet despite that, I kept playing through instances where a relationship might just happen between us. Maybe I was hoping something would force me to come out, so it wouldn’t be a choice (OH the wordplay there!) and my family wouldn’t be as harsh. On our last night, thankfully a clear one so all our gear could dry out, I stayed late at their campfire with another friend of mine in order to “socialize.” Which, honestly, all of them were  and are truly good people, and a riot around a fire, laughing and joking, making fun of each other like any siblings would. That being the reason was far from unbelievable.

Though, my wanting to stay past the droopy eyelid stage had nothing to do with this girl giving out back massages, and the fact that my shoulders were sore. Nope, not at all.

Fast forward through the non-milestone bearing years to December 2011, when I attended a Pathways event. Pathways is an organization looking to better the world by helping people achieve growth. We as humans can only do that by facing our challenges, which are represented as risks—the bigger the risk, the greater the challenge, the more powerful you become. I attended their Basic session and was energized by this new way of thinking. I signed up for their Advanced session, an in-depth, 24 hour a day, five day experience that pushed you to your limits. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, all of the –ly’s you can think of. And the ones you can’t imagine.

Part way through our time there, I looked at my writings and thought, “What am I really getting out of this? How can I be part of this team when I’m holding this back?” And the next day, I came out by telling just a few of our peers. Part of me feared being challenged by the staff and attendees, mainly in the ways that I had doubted myself in my youth. “Are you sure? How can you know if you’ve never tried?” I had to be confident in my answers. Inevitably, I’m sure my nervousness seemed like I was still hiding part of the truth. But of COURSE I was nervous! The only, ONLY time I had ever even admitted to this aloud was in empty rooms, late at night or early mornings, when I was empty, hiccupping from crying, easily toasting half a tissue box in effort to try to save some dignity and shirt sleeves.

Then came the final day. It was supposed to be joyous, uplifting, freeing that this ordeal would soon be over, and we’d have to test our newfound selves in the real world, where all our temptations, limitations, and monsters would come rushing back. My chances to face this level ten out of ten risk were dwindling fast. One last opportunity, and I strode up to the front of the room, before all these people I had cried and grieved and celebrated with, people with whom I shared and learned things never known before in the light of day. Humans who had far more to lose than I did, who knew deeper hurt, who conquered greater obstacles and longer shadows. How could I say that THIS was my ten? How would they ever trust me again? After I came into this saying I’d give my all and then tell everyone, “Oh yeah, by the way, I was lying to you all this time”? In a rush of words, a voice shaking with the fear compiled on a single, tiny human girl, after 15 years of putting my happiness second—

I came out as asexual on March 18th, 2012.

That’s when everything changed. I didn’t lose anyone’s trust. I ended up in a group hug that involved the entire room. THEY were figuratively and literally supporting me. I couldn’t breathe, but I didn’t care. I couldn’t stand on my own, but I didn’t care. I had absolutely no freaking clue what lay ahead, and I. Didn’t. Care. I finally returned the world to Atlas’ shoulders and was ready to move on. I had nothing to hide any more. I danced like no one was watching. I laughed and joked and listened and hugged all night long. I drove back to my house and was calling my closest friends (it’s ok—hands free wasn’t a law then). I got two hours of sleep than night, and the next day I was tireless, on top of the world. Nothing could touch me. The last secret I had ever wanted to keep from anyone was finally out. I lived like I had nothing to lose, because I didn’t. Never had I known a freedom like this.

Why? Because I wouldn’t have to compromise when it came to love. And that, like all the Bohemians before me, was the most important thing one could ever bring into their life.

And yes, I realize I wrote asexual, not lesbian as initially stated. That is the second ‘nother kettle of fish yet to be tasted.

I had ups and downs when it came to coming out, probably easier to handle than most. I had no fear coming out to my friends, or any of Dagorhir. One of my friends (and I don’t think they were joking) had several bets going on my true orientation, and allegedly won some money, at which they reveled after congratulating me. I drove straight to the house of two of my best friends since high school to tell them in person. Of course they were elated, and that was the general reaction for the rest of the week. Then the rest of the month. All of the happy!

Family was quite the array. After telling my mom, her tone to me was a combination of, “It’s a phase,” “You’re just confused,” and “I don’t accept this” without directly saying those words. I expected a little difficulty with her, to be honest. I still bristle a bit whenever she uses the word “choice” and try to kindly correct her, though sadly I lose my cool more often than I’d like. Suffice to say she’s come a long way since then, and my temper is better. One of my brothers was fine, said he accepted me for who I was, didn’t judge or think it wrong either way, and wanted to know when I was visiting them next. My other brother has given me the strangest reaction to date. His first response was, “Why are you telling me this?” and a callback that seemed to me like he thought I had been brainwashed at Pathways. He’s told me that his religion says it’s wrong, but that he’s also taught to hate the sin and love the sinner (check earlier in my blog for my view on that mantra), though he asked about my girlfriend and how she was doing at our last get together. I told my sister later that week over sushi. She was happy, supportive, and also excited that she’d still get to help plan my wedding. My dad and I had a bit lengthier discussion on it, in which he considered my sexuality a choice, in that it was my choice to follow these inherent feelings. I’m still stumbling over that, but he loves me, and we make great memories together at movies and the Ren Faire and cooking out. Isn’t that what ultimately counts?

The story doesn’t end there, amigos, though you may feel free to get up and refill your popcorn bowls if you wish. When I spoke with my mom, I promised I wouldn’t say anything to the ship yet, which was sadly a huge step back in my mind, since there was no way I’d be able to keep being involved with these girls and skirt those questions for years to come. I had jumped through millions of tiny hoops for over half my life only to be stopped by this. I had heard the current generation talk about social issues, and their views rode shotgun right along with mine, in more beyond just gay rights. The thought sprouted in my head that maybe I could do this, maybe they would accept me. A handful of my peers felt my view of their reactions was romanticized, and I should be fully prepared for backlash if they found out. Could that be true? I reasoned that there was no way these outsiders were right. They didn’t know the ship like I did.

Welcome *pauses for dramatic music* to the hardest part of my story. If you think yourself weak of heart, I’d suggest skipping down a bit past this section. Starting with coming out to her the previous summer and going mostly through the year all the way ‘til Ragnarok 2013, I talked more and more online with my current girlfriend. My roommates accompanied me to a local drag show and gay bar, and I went on a couple dates with a girl from an online site. Nothing really panned out. I was still wanting this relationship with her that I didn’t think could happen. Our topics ranged deeper into real life stuff, personal history and philosophies and future hopes and all that—we had so much in common that it was almost scary at times. When it came to fully imagining the future, I delved deeper into my own thoughts, questioning why I was asexual and not lesbian.

The truth of the matter is I’ve never seen myself as physically attractive. One of my best friends has always given me “that look” whenever I make comments like this, though really all it did was keep me from mentioning that thought less. My mindset didn’t meet its nemesis with the umpteen million times I’ve been hit on, nor all the comments made about The List of Dagorhirrim I could have with a simple look and a, ”You’ll do.” Those weren’t me at all. Not only did I avoid admitting sexual attraction out of fear of cheapening my relationships, but out of fear of rejection. I didn’t see that part of me, so how could anyone else?

For a girl used to grass stained jeans and climbing trees as easily as she breathed, revealing glee as one of my decision making helpers might be as big a shock to y’all as the entirety of this musing. All of the cheese, over acted dramatics, and ridiculousness still can’t knock the metaphors that teach real life lessons better than most of this generation’s supposed role models. In this episode, the female characters were talking about their first times (which if you don’t know to what I’m referring at this point, return to 8th grade science class), and one in particular told how hers was beautiful, with someone whom she truly loved. And boom! I realized quite quickly that attraction shouldn’t be about guarding against rejection, like I was doing, but rather about love and trust. Was I truly not attracted to anyone? Or was that a defense mechanism against humiliation? During the spring of 2013, I slowly came to terms with the fact that it might be the latter.

A miracle came at Ragnarok when my girlfriend and I started dating, and I decided I was, in fact, lesbian on June 24th. We agreed “miracle” was probably the truth about our relationship when you consider all the factors of our situation. We had 650 miles between us, she was living as much of a No Impact lifestyle as possible, I had almost no vacation days left that year, but we still ran in. I slowly realized that I wanted her to be around the ship, that the feeling of sisterhood would be like the supportive family that got me through my high school years. And there was no way I could lie to these girls about everything she meant, was, is, and would be to me.

Which meant I had to come out fully, in all realms of my life.

I at first spoke with my sister from a legal standpoint, seeing if there was anything I should be wary of, and she said I was in the clear. What I should be prepared for, both as a scout leader and assistant track coach, is the reactions of the parents and the effect it’d have on each group. I emailed a brief story to one of the assistant track coaches first, to whom I was closest, and he was incredibly supportive, reaffirming my sister’s words. The support from the rest of the staff was reassuring too, in that they’d much rather fight for me and not worry about the griping parents if there was any conflict.

I revisited the subject with my mom before our high adventure trip, but she told me no. I brought up the fact that I’d have to lie up front to these girls, all the physical evidence that I’d blatantly have to ignore. It made no sense. I wanted to do it at our rededication ceremony, and was again denied. I told her it’d be the perfect opportunity, with all the emotions and sharing of ourselves, it would mean the world to me, and explaining myself in such a heavy atmosphere might be better to get the seriousness of this step to come across. She countered that I shouldn’t, that the ceremony was about what scouting means to us, not about who we are. Again, made no sense. Who we are is EXACTLY what our ship is about—the strengths we bring to the table, the times we need support, the maps we give out when a sister is lost. We’re all human, after all. Why wouldn’t this be appropriate? When emotions are at their highest and good vibes wrap everyone in a warm blanket that smells like campfire and a summer breeze. That’s the PERFECT time to do this.

Don’t get me wrong. My mom helped raise us four kids to be stupendous contributions to our country, and is an incredibly selfless creature. She stays up through all hours of the night to make sure our events run smoothly, dedicates hours of her week to the betterment of the ship, gives up a lot of her livelihood for its future. I know she was acting in what she thought were the ship’s best interest. To me, it was like faith in a god without using a little bit of intelligence—didn’t make sense.

We agreed, in the long run, that consulting council was the best idea. But that would wait until after the trip. In the meantime, I could only participate in a week of the roundabout drive to Montana for horseback riding. I detoured down to Missouri, hiked through wonderfully ancient rock formations, dove into 10 hours of driving across Kansas, went several hours speechless at the skyscape, detoured to Baker Street in Lawrence (yeAAAAAH Supernatural fangirl!), and finally arrived home late that night at my aunt’s church. Stories and humorous moments and smiling faces whirred about me, reminding my wanderer’s heart what family was all about and how to lose “loneliness” from my dictionary. One of the trends the rest of the week was the Question Game: one person asks a question, everyone answers, then the next person in line asks. Could be anything from silly (what bug would you be for a day?) to serious (what historical event would you change?). Luckily I had two of the most mature girls in my car, a graduating senior and a sophomore who had really stepped up her responsibility in the past year.

Several hours into the Question Game, my insides were all tied up in knots. I’m a great believer in Fate, so when the questions ranged into the realm of revealing what I told my mom I’d hide, I hated it. I was being slapped in the face, hearing everything around me say, “You need to be YOU with these girls!” Five days at the horse ranch of sharing and experiencing and teaching and learning, then another ride with these same two. The sophomore asked what our greatest accomplishment was. Instantly I knew it was coming out, yet I stalled thinking of something else that could compare, hoping the senior would give her explanation first.

What came to mind instead were all the signs, hounding me yet again. Not a half hour earlier, the question had been what character trait we wished we had, and the sophomore’s answer was the confidence she had seen in the upperclassmen, and also me, in how I didn’t care what other people thought about me, that I could be myself and hold my head high. Well geeze. If there had ever been a more direct sign, I’m sure that literally would’ve knocked me senseless and left a red handprint on my cheek.

So here it was again, raising a hand toward my face like I had lost a bet on How I Met Your Mother. And I came out, again. And I was surrounded by happy, proud faces, again. And I was speechless, again. All the warnings that people had given me were so far off. These girls had astounded me, though a part of me had always known they would be accepting. My instincts were put on the line, and pulled through.

To get a better idea of the organizational ramifications, I set up a time to talk with several council reps, saying that I’d like to tell our troop, and sent out an email to some of our most involved parents. Most all of them were on board. One said they weren’t in agreement with my lifestyle, but loved what I did with the girls and appreciated all the time I volunteered and everything I was teaching them. We’re still on speaking terms, and their daughter still attends, so I guess I can’t argue. It’s quite a feat to combine two conflicting philosophies in one head and agree with both. One of my best friends, little sister, and alumnae was able to swing the meeting (pun intended), and the reps phrased it that while GSUSA supports GLBT (and all of the above) without batting an eye, they can’t promote one lifestyle over the other, so I shouldn’t come out at this ceremony. Devastatingly disheartened. Here was an organization that lauded itself about accepting the beauty of diversity, yet there they went, putting limits on it. I had such high hopes after the whole BSA debacle (yes, I did have to quit as a leader for our Sea Scout Ship, but told everyone the reason was that I couldn’t support bigotry disguised as good morals).

Spoiler alert: later after describing the ceremony (again) to one of the staff whom with we had that meeting, she apologized for not understanding all that we did there, and said it would’ve been perfectly fine to do so. Yup, angry eyebrows.

I had already written up a song for our ship, to the tune of Ireland, with a specific verse about what our ship can teach the world. It was meant to accompany my coming out story, to give a different perspective on what the ship was truly about, beyond the ribbons and trophies and sometimes sassy cat fights.

“We are forty against millions who don’t know how it’s meant to be.
They cannot accept her lessons that lead us to our destiny:
We’re all sisters and brothers, whose happiness should be enough
To celebrate all Her diversity, and do all things out of love.”

After the ceremony concluded, I gathered our graduating seniors and alumnae in attendance, and told them. I had no inner debate about it, since they weren’t part of our ship, it was no concern of council. I heard so many gasps of excitement and witnessed the firelight reflecting off their smiles that I was incredibly touched. They were all stoked to meet my girlfriend, stalking her on Facebook before she even knew their names. She helped chaperone our Halloween camping event, where the Mariners latched onto her humor and playfulness and wilderness lore and mad hooping skills. As far as coming out goes, it seems generally like I actually got a fairy tale ending.

And all of that, ladies and jellyspoons, led to telling my story at this year’s ceremony. That same little sister came back as my support, for which I cannot thank her enough, and have no words for how I’ve seen her grow at each stage of life since I’ve known her. It started with a shaky voice, and ended with each set of eyes brimming with love. Out of everything that had happened, all the imagery and phrases I had planned for that weighty speech, what rang out truest was the absolutely beautiful perfection that Fate had lain on my path.

The ship, my original reason for caging my happiness, was the same thing that set it free.

So THAT is the reason why my story deserves telling. Out of tribute to each inconvenience and pain and agonizingly long lonely night and empty answer to each unspoken question, I tell my story. In hopes that a closed mind finds understanding. In the promise of giving another closeted person guidance. In the attempt to leave a legacy that’s more than my local community. As any writer knows, especially Atrus of Myst, the ending to life can never truly be written, but as I’ve seen for the better part and best parts of my life, having a hand in writing the climactic chapter can be the most trying and rewarding experience of all.

Now…pass me that popcorn.