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.

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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