There was a girl in our class that everyone called a freak. I called her queer and my friends frowned at me for that.
Some days the queer girl looked like she’d just returned from a costume party, dressed in a tutu and sneakers or wearing an animal ears hat and vintage shades. Other times she was covered in multicolored necklaces and bracelets. Occasionally she wore all of it at once. She could burst into tears at a sad scene in a movie the teacher was showing us in class or walk down the street and sing her favorite song at the top of her voice. None of the other kids wanted to be friends with her. But the queer girl appeared to be indifferent to that, eagerly avoiding their company and basking in her own.
One time I caught her eating instant coffee at lunch break. I asked her why she did that and she said it tasted loads better than when it was dissolved in the water. Later when I was alone in my room I tried it and to my surprise it tasted delicious. From that point on I began paying closer attention to what the queer girl did.
A couple of years later, when we were in the 6th grade, I guess, I sat in the cafeteria with other girls, discussing guys. Through the window I saw the queer girl building a snowman down at the schoolyard. One of the girls at the table noticed me watching her and blurted out “The freak will never even get a boyfriend if she goes on playing toddler games till high school.”
Probably true. At the same time, I realized that she didn’t need one. It was us who needed boyfriends because we wanted to feel loved and needed. To fit in, to be approved of. But the queer girl didn’t need any love or approval. She approved of and loved herself. She was not really the queer girl, I thought. She was the real girl. She was the happy girl.
I knew that deep down I was queer too. Only I was terrified to admit it. And that’s why I was miserable.
I spent many long years like that, hiding in my safe unhappiness, storing up the queeriness inside me, pretending to be normal. Until one day, there was no more place left for it because the burden of pretending had become too heavy. And the desire to be myself had outweighed the fear of being judged. I had no other choice – if I still wanted to find the reason to go on – than to show everyone that I was a queer girl too.
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