#iamkatemessner, and Everything Sucks!

Spoilers ahead! If you wish not to be spoiled, get off WordPress, go watch the show. It definitely does not suck.

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I’ll just get right to it: this show was better than anything I could have anticipated.

I’m drawn to character stories, and even more so, I’m personally fascinated by coming-of age stories, so right off the bat, this was absolutely something I was going to love. In fact, as I started watching, I realized that this was a version of a story that I have been looking for for years. For years, I would walk into a bookstore or browse the internet for a story that reflected my own experiences in coming to terms with my sexuality. Everything Sucks! is pretty close to the story I’ve been looking for.

Kate is me. I am Kate. I was a behind-the-scenes type girl, quiet, with long straight hair that was never styled because god forbid I show my face. I wanted to blend in. I even dressed like Kate because like Kate, my dad bought my clothes growing up. I was awkward and intimidated by girls who were more confident in their skin (see locker room scene, shopping scene, etc.).

I totally got it: Am I boyish because of my clothes? Because of the way I was brought up? Or do I genuinely like dressing like this? Do girls make me flustered because I’m shy? Do I want to be like them or do I want to date them?

Unlike Kate, I didn’t try dating boys until college. But even then I get it. Why don’t I want to hold this guys hand? Why does he annoy me so much when he’s trying to be romantic?He’s my best friend, but I can’t stand to be around him if it means I have to kiss him.

When I finally fell for someone in college, she was a lot like Emaline (except she was nice to me from the start); super cool, artsy, super hot, and really popular with the guys. Similar to Emaline, my friend fell for me, and I for her. And like “Kemaline”, our relationship came to an abrupt and premature end.

The news of the cancellation of Everything Sucks came as a surprise to me. The show connected with people across ages, orientations, and life places. My high school coworkers connected with the characters, who were genuine representations of students their age. My age group, “the millennials”, connected with the kids because we were those kids. This was our era. Even my mom connected with the show, through the music and the sweet story of Luke’s mom and Kate’s father.

Netflix was sitting on a goldmine–a story driven by nostalgia, good acting, and relatable situations. The cast was racially and socioeconomically diverse. And my personal draw: the show had a gay female lead.

I am Kate Messner. To see my story brought to life on screen was so touching and so very sweet. It became a story I could point to and say “That was me in high school.” I had never had that before. It was a story that I could watch, with one foot in the closet, and relive all the realization moments with Kate:

The embarrassment of the gym locker room; undressing in front of girls way more confident and beautiful than you.

Hanging pictures of boy celebrities in your bedroom just to fit in; not because you actually find them attractive.

Seeing a lesbian couple for the first time and realizing that it’s everything you want. Simultaneously being exited at the possibility, but sad at the reality; that it’s not likely to ever happen.

Then later, having your breath catch when you finally experience physical closeness for the first time and find that it’s wonderful.

The concert scene is the scene for me. That’s the story I was looking for. That’s the feeling I felt. That’s the experience of a baby gay.

Shows like this aren’t something that can just be thrown away. The show isn’t only a goldmine for viewership, it’s a piece of people. The show is meant to connect with people, either through nostalgia or relatable characters. And when a story allows its viewers to be that vulnerable, it must be treated carefully.

Kate is an important character. Luke is an important character. Luke’s mom, Emaline… all of them. It’s important for these stories to be told. Specifically, it’s important for kids to have the representation that I didn’t have when I was in high school.

Perhaps if I had a Kate Messner when I was young, I would have spent less time hating myself. Perhaps if my parents had seen young Kate’s struggle, they would be more compassionate toward the LGBTQ community, and to me.

It’s a story that connects with viewers who don’t have much to being with. It’s a story that I have been searching for for years, and I finally found. It’s a story that deserves more time to be told, or at least, it deserves a proper ending.

Netflix, you’re sitting on a story that must be told. Tell it.

#iamkatemessner

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#iamkatemessner, and Everything Sucks!

Eva wants me to become a youth leader.

Eva wants me to become a youth leader.

“Just come hang out!” she said. “You don’t really have to do much.

“I would 100-percent support that.”

I love Eva. I love Eva and Joey and Porcha and Alex and the rest. I want to make sure that Eva knows she has a family– that Porcha knows God loves her just the way she is. I want to help Alex along a journey, towards a destination I have no particular answer to, but I want them to know that they are made in the image of God.

I want them to know that when the world abandons them, God will not. And I wont either.

Growing up I had people try to do that for me. They helped me so much. They were my confidants when I had nowhere else to turn. They were my therapist, hearing the records of my anxieties and grievances. But they all fell short. Humans do that.

Eva wants me to become a youth leader.

They see me in the praise band on Sunday. I make sure to ask them about their weeks and listen. I make the tough conversations easy to voice. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have the answers. I just want to make sure they’re all doing okay.

I want them to know that I’ve been there. I see you. I know how you got those scars. You can show me or tell me and I will understand because I have them too. You don’t have to explain. I know how many questions you have, how complicated identity seems. You can skip the explanations, which often are not easy. I get it. I see you. You’re my younger sibling, my little bird.

My God. If I had someone, even one person, tell me that I was beautiful, that “same sex attraction” wasn’t an abomination, that I was made in the image of God–No exceptions!–it would have saved me countless moments of hating myself. If one person took the time to listen, to hold me tight, to tell me that my feelings were valid, I maybe would have less scars. Maybe I would stand a little taller.

I just want to make sure the kids are alright. I don’t want to leave them. I want to be the person I never had.

I’m not sure anyone else wants me to become a youth leader.

Me? Who refuses to dress up, despite playing in the band every week. Who comes, frail and pale, with dark circles and makeup clearly from last night. Who jokes during the church service. Who can’t pray out loud anymore. Who is perhaps too open about her drinking habits.

No. They don’t want that.

Even if they do, I can’t become a youth leader with a clean conscious because I am gay. I am gay. What if the parents decide that I am unfit to lead their kids? What if I bare my soul, my identity, to the church leaders and they decide I am unfit for everything? Could I still play in the band? Could I still hang out with the youth?

I don’t want to be a problem to be solved. I don’t want to be an issue to be fixed. I just don’t want to leave them–the kids. I just want to make sure they’re doing okay. Because God, life is hard.

Eva wants me to become a youth leader. I do too.

Eva wants me to become a youth leader.

A tale of fake high school crushes

High school is tough. Four long years of trying desperately to both stand out and fit in. What do I like? What am I good at? Who am I?

I grew up in an area where homosexuality was just not an option. It wasn’t even considered. And when i finally learned about gay people, I thought ‘being gay’ was just something you did that was bad, I didn’t know relationships between gay people were an actual thing.

So anyway!

Starting in middle school, as is extremely normal, all of my friends started having crushes on people of the opposite sex. My guy friends started becoming interested in the pretty girls (who somehow managed to be ALWAYS the same 5 girls) and my female friends would spend lunch hours talking about their crush of the week or month or day.

In those days there was a check list of traits that you had to have in order to be considered crush-worthy. We were kids, emulating Tigerbeat magazines and Nickelodeon Stars, channeling every bit of pop culture that was surrounding us. If Tigerbeat said Zach Effron was the the it-boy, then it meant those boys in class with shaggy skater hair and a wide smile were also the it-boys.

The it-boys were fairly easy to identify and therefore easy targets for my fake crushes. I remember sitting in the cafeteria with my girl friends as they once again had the discussion on who was crushing on who. I had so far avoided being roped into these discussions, but today I couldn’t escape.

“Lily, who do you have a crush on?”

I thought and thought, but couldn’t muster an answer. What boy did I have a crush on? I was friends with Jake, but I didn’t want to kiss him. I liked spending time with James, but I didn’t like like him. As the time passed and I stayed silent, I began to blush, embarrassed that I was the odd one out.

“She’s blushing! She does like someone!”

“Awww who is it?”

I didn’t want to tell them, because it would be lying. I never gave guys much thought in that way. I was a tomboy. I was one of the guys. They didn’t make me nervous or shy. The only person in school that made me speechless was Joanna.

But I couldn’t say that because we weren’t talking about girls. We were talking about boys. To satisfy my friends, I looked around at the photos on the cafeteria walls. The boys soccer team. I picked a guy–Jackson–an it-boy. I had known him for years. It would probably be believable.

“Jackson?” It wasn’t. “You like him??”

I couldn’t spare myself the teasing, but it was better to fake a crush on Jackson than it was to admit to myself that the reason I was faking in the first place was that Joanna was my first crush. Blonde, kind, gentle and talented. Every time I spoke to her it lit up my heart. I could feel the butterflies, and my world would speed up and slow down at the same time.

But thank God for Tigerbeat. Thank God for Cosmo and for TMZ. Thank God that young women are so predictable. I faked it for years. The it-boys were always easy to spot and required no further explanation from me.

And I could save my butterflies for the blonde girls, the girls with tattoos and quiet smiles.

A tale of fake high school crushes