CLOSETS ARE FOR COAT-HANGERS PRESENTS: “THE LABEL GAME”

PHOTO BY JORDAN ELSTAD

Multi Magazine is proud to present “Closets are for Coat-Hangers,” a series about self-discovery and coming out celebrating LGBT Pride month this June.


I remember how, in elementary school, I used to sit by myself and watch all the other girls braid each other’s hair, or watch the boys playfully hit one another when they rough-housed on the playgrounds.

I would wish that I was a part of them, but I never truly was;  there was something more to me. I just couldn’t quite place it, couldn’t give it a name.

I noticed how handsome the boys were playing basketball, and I gossiped about it just like the others girls, but I also noticed how the girls all looked so pretty running around and laughing, braids and all.

This is where I began to realize that I wasn’t like the other kids. I thought there was something wrong with me.

As I began to go through puberty, I began to look at girls in a whole new light. I thought about holding their hand, hugging them, dancing with them, doing all the things I would do with boys, too.

And though people called that stuff “weird” and “abnormal,” I couldn’t shake the idea of being with a girl out of my head.

That scared me, so I would go home and turn to the internet for help. I looked up “Are You Straight or Gay?” quizzes online and picked what I deemed to be the “most straight” answers every time,  just so I would be satisfied with myself. Just so I could convince myself I was normal.

Taking those stupid online quizzes gave me a false glimmer of hope that I could be just like the other girls.

But I began to be more aware of myself in the seventh grade. Yes, I know, seventh grade is a time period most would like to forget, and I do too; but I choose not to forget, because that year was the start of me discovering myself, good and bad. I was unhappy with everything about me, and everything that was me, disgusted me.

I fell down a spiral of self-hatred, constantly lying to myself and others until I inevitably combusted from all emotions. I would lash out at the people I love, or cry my heart out for seemingly no reason, or I’d start binging and then stop eating to the point where I’d be passing out. My health seriously declined.

I remember thinking to myself, How the hell am I going to live like this?

All that I was doing was living some lie. And I was aware of this.

I was fully aware that I was lying to myself, and I decided that it was time to stop hiding. I was done with being unhappy and done with being dishonest. I had to face the truth, because I couldn’t just hide in the shadows. I couldn’t go my whole life with being depressed. I couldn’t keep holding in the truth.

In the seventh grade, I finally came out to my two best friends on Halloween; they accepted me with open arms. Then, as I (slowly) came out to more and more people, I could feel a weight being lifted off my shoulders. My relationship with my friends became stronger, and my love for myself became more genuine.

I was revived, and more importantly I was happy. I was finally living my truth.

Another truth: I’ve seen a lot in my short 16 years of life. In my mind that makes me a stronger person.

Sure, I’ll sometimes eat an entire box of doughnuts, and yeah, I have no patience for most things, but at heart I think that’s what makes me unique. I don’t necessarily label myself as “bisexual” because labels just aren’t my thing. My story isn’t necessarily neat, neither is my identity; and maybe, just maybe, one day the world will let kids exist without trying to force them between the rigid lines of tiny checkboxes and labels.

But until then, my story is not over, and I have my whole life ahead of me to figure things out.

-JM, 16, QUEER (SHE/HER)

PHOTO BY: J ELSTAD

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