Tina Kakadelis
YA Author

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Burn Before Reading: A Carly Allen Story

Emails, English Class, & Lesbians. Oh, My!

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I hereby declare that Fridays will forevermore be FriGAYs. That's right. A whole day just to talk about gay things. It's like Halloween every Friday. Why Halloween, you ask? Well, my old boss at the library used to call Halloween Gay Christmas, so there ya go. We're going to talk about all kinds of things on FriGAYs. Ranging from gays in pop culture, gays around the world, and just gay things everywhere. Gay-gay-gay-gay-gay.

Before we get started, let's talk about the elephant in the room. Yes, I chose to have my hair like that. Yes, I thought it was cool. No, that's not what it looks like now. The only reason it's here is because we're going back in time. Back to when I still looked like this and back when I was pretty sure I was straight.

One of the first things LGBT people everywhere get asked is "when did you come out?" Joke's on y'all because I've come out so many times in my life I don't even know where to start. I come out at work on an almost daily basis...accidentally. It just happens. I can't help it. The other day, someone asked if I'd read Dave Egger's The Circle. I said no, but Emma Watson's face looks great in the trailer. It's honestly a miracle I'm still employed.

I realize that most people want to know when I first came out to other people which, in my opinion, is not the most important time you come out. For me, the most important coming out experience is when you come out to yourself. It may be a long, long time before you can say "I'm gay" out loud to another human being, but you've replayed that phrase over and over in your head. It's scary. It's overwhelming. It is both the biggest and smallest thing in the world.

My sister came out before me. She's a gruff, Ron Swanson type, so we were not about to sit around a campfire, sing Kumbaya, and share our feelings. She left a collection of short stories written by LGBT people lying around and I picked it up one day. There was a quote by David Levithan that's stuck with me ever since. "Freedom isn't just about voting and marrying and kissing on the street, although all of these things are important. Freedom is also about what you will allow yourself to do."

Well, slap my ass and call me Sally. That's beautiful. Freedom is about me. I remember reading that and feeling like the world shifted into focus. It's about me! The only moment I wasn't self-centered! Can you believe it? I certainly couldn't. That's the most important thing to remember about coming out; it's about you and only you. Well, in this case, it's about me.

When I was a wee tenth grader, there was a very nice, very cute girl in my english class. She shall remain nameless. All you need to know is that I, for some reason unknown to me, wanted nothing more than to make this girl laugh. All you guys watching at home are yelling at your screens, saying YOU HAD A CRUSH ON HER, TINA. HOW COULD YOU NOT KNOW? Well, there's a wonderful thing called compulsive heterosexuality that we can talk about in a future blog.

It was around the time I found my sister's collection of LGBT short stories, and it was the first time the thoughts in my brain were contextualized. That's basically fancy jargon for I had a really big "oh shit" moment. Yeah, Tina, she's cute and you have a very real, very gay crush on her.

The words "I'm gay" wouldn't tumble out of my mouth until I was a freshman in college. Even then, they didn't exactly tumble. I wrote an email informing my parents that the girl I'd introduced them to was actually my girlfriend. Surprise! If you learn anything about me, know that I strongly believe email is the best form of communication. But I said the words. Maybe in the form of ones and zeroes or however computers work, but there they were!

The moral of the story is that coming out is something that's important, but it's not the be all and end all. You will come out over and over again. Maybe with the same identity, or maybe you'll find a word that suits you better. There are no rules or steps you have to follow. There's nothing concrete about sexual identities, and there should be nothing concrete in the way we talk about them.

So take a deep breath. You don't need to know today or tomorrow or even next millennium. The most important thing is finding freedom in what you will allow yourself to do and feel. That's the secret to the universe.