By Tali Friedman

My journey of figuring out my sexual orientation began when I was 12 years old and living in a suburb of Chicago. Before my school’s mandatory gym class would begin (where everyone would put on the same awkward-fitting tight blue jersey shorts and baggy grey T-shirts), 50 or so girls would be crammed like sardines into the locker room to change. Standing in the corner of the room, after a minute or so of staring into space, I locked eyes with a girl across the room. She looked around to her friends, as if for guidance, and abruptly pointed and screamed the agonizing word, “lesbian!”

Immediately, I saw an army of girls glaring at me with the most uncomfortable stares I had ever seen before in my life. A few frowned, while others pointed to their mouths, sticking out their tongues to signify that I made them sick. I ran out of the locker room crying, feeling ashamed and completely perplexed by the accusations. If only I could tell that tear-stained pre-teen that the girls’ accusations weren’t completely wrong and that everything would be all right.

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