I am so angry. I have been angry for most of my life. I have felt hurt, and rejection, and anger, and betrayal… betrayal by my family, by my friends, by my own body. Think about it. How would you feel if as a Kindergartner, you felt something that you instinctively knew would make people hate you? What would it be like to know from your earliest memory that if you didn’t stifle the feelings that were inside you and instead color inside the lines that others defined for you, that you would never belong anywhere? How would it feel to know that you had fiercely protected a secret, making yourself miserable and sick inside, only to be reviled, ridiculed, and hated anyway? What would it be like to know that the lie you had to tell was just as much the reason you spent your childhood running, hiding, and being afraid, as was the truth that would have bred the same?
Imagine that life. Imagine feeling so starved for that one sympathetic heart, that you would call your tormentors friends, that you would laugh with them as they mocked you, that you would walk the halls of a school feigning collusion with your classmates – the perpetrators of your misery – all the while dying inside; because the people who tormented you didn’t even have the right story. But oh, they told stories. They wrote them down. They read them to me over the phone. When that didn’t cause enough pain, they read them to whoever would answer the phone at my house. They spread them. They shared them in classes in front of everyone. They laughed. They writhed with pleasure in my pain. I remember them. I remember the worst of them… the stories about a girl named Tiffany.
I don’t know which was worse – that they wrote filthy rancid sexually charged stories about my fixation with a girl named Tiffany, or that they didn’t even write them about the correct girl named Tiffany. But I remember the stories, and I remember the readings. And I remember the revulsion on the face of the wrong Tiffany, the unfortunate pawn in a terrible game, and on the faces of her friends. I remember the laughter as the football playing double bassist read the stories aloud for Tiffany and an entire room full of musicians – the one group of people among whom I thought I might be safe. I remember the pain as if the quill still protruded from my back.
I hope it felt good. I hope you all [names removed] enjoyed the laugh. I hope the phone calls, and the locker inserts, and the handouts were all worth it. You succeeded in making an already broken and miserable person hate her existence even more. You made me want to die. Oh, and my “loving” family… thank you for all the support. Thank you for putting the blame for it all where it really belonged… on me. After all, wasn’t it my idea to be born in the wrong damn body? And wasn’t it my responsibility to keep such an embarrassing truth from being known? And wasn’t it my idea to take all the cobbled and disjointed justifications for the lie I was living, and turn them into weapons for my own humiliation?
You know the worst part? None of you even got the story right. You took I lie I told to cover a lie (a lie that was supposed to protect me from the shame of being a freak), and turned it into a work of pornographic art. Here’s the truth. I was Tiffany. The girl on whom I fixated was the person who was trapped inside me. I called her Tiffany – I called myself Tiffany, because I remembered once being told that it was the name my dad wanted for me. I guess I thought… I hoped that if I took the name my dad wanted for me, maybe he wouldn’t hate who I was quite so much. I called myself Tiffany. I wrote my name in my notebooks, so that I could see it, so that it would be more real. I used the hope that seeing my name inspired to convince myself not to use the bullet that I carried with me.
You wonder why I am angry? I hurt. I was broken. I needed help. I needed someone to recognize me for who I really was (who I am) and love me for it. Instead, you wrote stories about a perverted little violinist who loved a girl named Tiffany – a girl whose primary misfortune was sharing my first name. That is, until you included the perversion of her in your twisted stories about me.
You know what though? I survived. Every day I live is a statement. Every word I breathe is the product of all I had to overcome – all that you put upon me. Your torture was the fertilizer in which I grew into a beautiful, strong, talented, and intelligent woman. I am proud of who I am. I am proud of the life I live. No one else has to love me. I love me. And yes, I forgive the rest. I forgive it, but I will NEVER forget it, and I hope that you won’t either. I hope you remember whom you almost killed. I hope you remember that the problem does not lie with those of us who fall outside the boundaries. The problem lies with those of you who are building those boundaries in the first place.
I am a woman. I am gay. And I am proud of whom I am and of everyone else who finds the strength to stand up for who they are.
I love you all, and that doesn’t make me gay… just happy.