This was not how I pictured coming out. I’d always thought it would be something rather ostentatious: chalking my name on the cafeteria windows on National Coming Out Day or dressing up as a trucker and just waiting for someone to ask why. I had not pictured it this way, as this furtive exchange of information in my Clothing Design class.

Buffy, I’ll call her, beckoned me over to her seat. She then leaned over and whispered in my ear, being careful not to get too close, “Excuse me, are you gay?” I nodded. Startled, she looked up and met my eyes. “Really?”

At the time, I wasn’t ready to be out. I wanted to be, but I was just not ready to deal with my peers’ realization that there was a dyke in their midst. I didn’t want to be the token lesbian of East Chapel Hill High School, and be treated like sin incarnate or a walking Gay 101 Information Booth. As it turned out, though, Buffy told only a few of her friends, who now point me out to their friends like an endangered species: “And here we have the spotted baby-dyke, rarely seen around these parts.”

It always makes me feel really happy, for lack of a better word (“gay” having been appropriated), to be out. It’s quite a relief to be honest about myself to others. In school I am out to some of the teachers and my close friends, which means I have a rousing time with the pronoun game when talking in class about my weekend. I’m tired of feeling like there is something wrong with me that needs to remain hidden. I’m tired of those who claim to stand for family values and morality when they are really afraid of and hateful toward what they don’t understand.

On the whole, I’m getting accustomed to being more and more out at school. I have not yet been harassed for being gay. Buffy, it seems, did me a favor when she outed me. Maybe I could send her one of my flannel shirts as a thank-you present.