On obliviousness and teen relationships.
Klaine has happened so of course my dash is full of gifs and happiness. It’s also full of people going “they’re just teenagers" and "no one just falls in love randomly like that!" Both of those sentiments annoy the hell out of me. Why? Not because I’m a die-hard Klaine shipper (though I am), but because they are completely dismissing entire categories of people.
(Cut for length and possible bullying, assault, and suicide triggers toward the end.)
Something only about ten people in my offline life know about me is that I got married when I was 20. I had known the guy, we’ll call him Josh, since I was eleven. We met at a picnic for LGBT families that I’d tagged along to with a friend. Josh was a year older, out as gay at his middle school, and having a hellish time. I was still in boy-stealth at my middle school, but about a month from transferring thanks to puberty killing my ability to sneak into boys’ locker and bathrooms. Josh ended up being the first (and only) person from my boy-stealth set of friends I told about being a girl.
This isn’t Glee so there was no singing or dancing. There also wasn’t a ritzy private school we could both run away to. I transferred to a school slightly further away and Josh stayed at his crappy one. We were madly obsessive about getting together on weekends in a way that only tweens can be, but I was a somewhat late bloomer in terms of romance so I never thought of him as anything other than my bestest-best-friend-ever.
Cut to high school. Thanks to district lines and feeder schools both of us ended up at the same one. High school was weird for me. I had kids I’d known pre-transfer in the same place as kids I knew post-transfer. It was awkward and painful and even with the no-bullying policy I couldn’t help but feel like a bit of an outcast. I had friends and no one was ever cruel so I recognise that it was much better than what many LGBT kids deal with, but it was still strange. Josh being older and more capable of dealing with snooty girls who looked at me funny meant he went from best friend to body guard. It helped that he was popular and fucking gorgeous (something I was vaguely aware of, but wouldn’t fully realise until later).
Sophomore year I dated my first ever straight boy. I’d dated a bit before, but always guys who would dump me as soon as that “oh right, I’m gay and you’re a girl” realisation would kick in. This was a big deal for me. At that point I’d suppressed every trans-hint other than body dysphoria and was convinced I’d get rid of that eventually too. Dating a straight guy was like my pass into normal-land. Except Josh freaked out. He went from being fairly ok with the guy I was dating to glaring every time his name came up and I swear he paraded around a different boyfriend every week. Looking back it was pretty damned clear what the problem was, but I didn’t get it. I just thought he was going through some weird Josh thing and ignored it.
Guy and I eventually broke up and Josh went back to normal. Asked me to Spring Formal which was our school’s equivalent of Junior Prom. It was a couples only dance and underclassmen who were asked to go basically ruled their year afterwards so I figured he was just being a sweet friend. It didn’t occur to me that he might have another reason because…well, I am horribly oblivious. Cue all of our friends thinking we were dating for the rest of high school. (To be fair, all that was really missing was the making out. And me knowing what was going on.)
Fast forwarding again to shortly before my 18th birthday. Josh had spent his freshman year at an east coast college, but wasn’t happy and was moving back to go to a state school near where my parents had moved the family. It was that first time seeing him after a year apart that made me have my Blaine moment. It was weird, like when your voice is changing and suddenly you realise can access all of these new notes. Nice, kind of exciting, almost expected, but also sudden and a bit terrifying. Add in that I was at the height of my “no, I’m a girl” phase and he was, well, gay and you have an interesting mix of emotions.
I needn’t have worried because, as everyone else had figure out, Josh had never seen me as a girl anyway. We started dating and were still together when I came out. Josh was the second person I told (the first was in the room with me when I found the term ‘female to male transsexual’), the one who picked my first name (and the inspiration for my current name), and the person I ran to when my parents went batshit. He was never anything other than 100% supportive, likely because frickin’ Stevie Wonder could have seen it coming.
I’d been away from my parents for about a month when Josh proposed. It was random and perfect and the one and only time I have ever used being trans to get something cis gays can’t have. We had a small civil ceremony about a week after the proposal figuring we’d have a ‘real’ wedding when I’d been on T a while and could take pictures that I wouldn’t cringe looking at later.
That never happened. Josh was killed in a gay-on-gay bashing less than a month later. I didn’t know it at the time, but the man who killed him was the same person who had bullied him in middle school. I was livid when it was decided it couldn’t have been a hate crime because the killer was gay. Even more when they said there wasn’t enough evidence to go to trial at all. And I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that I found a sick sort of justice in his suicide last year.
I can’t say I’ve entirely moved on. I don’t think it’s even possible. These things will always colour my opinions. I hate the Karofskys of the world with a passion few people can understand. I think anyone who says teen romance is somehow less real or important than adult romance is an idiot who can’t see beyond their own experience. I am a complete sucker for relationships that start off as intense friendships. I will never blame someone for being too oblivious to realise their own feelings. I was oblivious for nearly a bloody decade.