When I was in middle school, I prided myself on being the only girl in my friend group. At lunch, my three male friends and I would crowd around a circular table to eat our mediocre school-provided meals. I lamented in my journal about wishing I could be in their sleepovers and daydreamed about outings that the four of us had — going to the movies, or a mini golf course. I was always the only girl, and I took my place in our group very seriously.
One fateful day, a girl from our grade named Colleen tried to join us at lunch. My hackles immediately raised. The only girl that I would allow to accompany us, Melinda, was solidly my friend and thus an auxiliary to me. In short, she did not pose a threat. Neither did Roger, a boy who would hang with us on field trips and sometimes sit at our lunch table. But Colleen? She simply did not belong.
“Who said they wanted her to be here?” I stage whispered to the table, speaking to no one in particular. My rudeness and repeated snubbing during the lunch hour made Colleen angry — rightfully so. She called me a bitch before storming off. I didn’t even care that she insulted me. What I wanted was for her to go away, and my wish was granted. Colleen never tried to sit with us again. All was right with my world. I was one of the guys.
One might be tempted to dismiss this as run-of-the-mill cattiness and girl-on-girl hate. However, I never extended this attitude toward girls my friends ever indicated romantic interest in. I did not try to block any of them from dating girls (as slight as a possibility as that was). Why so slight a possibility? In a twist, three out of the four boys I have mentioned grew up to become gay men. Quelle surprise.
If anything, I thought that I paled in comparison to the girls who were effortlessly feminine and knew how to apply makeup in a manner other than the emo/gothy thick eyeliner type of way that I did. I would stare at myself in the mirror next to a girl applying lip gloss between classes, feeling like something was fundamentally different about us. I felt like another species. I felt wrong.
In high school, I had a close group of friends composed of myself, two girls, a gay guy and a gender bendy guy who was later revealed as queer. I truly belonged with them and could be myself. There was still…