It Gets Better

This kid had it rough.

This is a picture of him as he was just starting the 10th grade. He had changed schools twice in the last two years and barely knew anyone in his class. He had really bad acne. He was overweight. He was obsessed with comic books and super-heroes. He never had a girlfriend, and was secretly more interested in guys.

He’d messed around with other boys, growing up, but he’d never thought of it as anything more than fun—shameful, horrible, secret “fun”, mind you—but now he finally understood what he wanted, and who he was going to be. About halfway through the 10th grade, he developed a big crush on a friend he knew from drama class, who he was sure was gay. One day, the kid mustered the courage to tell him.

If that friend hadn’t been a real friend, if he’d teased or taunted and spread the word around school, things might have turned out very differently. But he didn’t. He explained that he, himself, wasn’t gay, but that it didn’t matter to him if this kid was. They would still be friends.

By the end of the year, this kid has been accepted into a circle of friends who would love and stick by him all through school, and beyond. With their support, the kid got more confident, more social, more creative, more open. Even though he was still nervous, sometimes, about people knowing who he was, he tried to radiate self-assurance and deflect jokes and slurs.

He found a support group for gay kids in Washington D.C.. He took his mom to a PFLAG brunch.

He moved to Chicago. He went to art school. He fell in love and broke up, and fell in love and broke up again. (And again.) He got back into comic books. He started a nonprofit supporting gay comics artists.

Then he started this comic book company.

It gets so much better. Please hang in there.

(If you feel like this kid used to and you need help, there are people who will listen to you and support you.)

3 Responses to “It Gets Better”

  1. Mark October 26, 2010 at 2:56 pm #191

    Sounds a lot like my story growing up…except I didn’t figure it out until many years later. I went through my suicidal phases, but was fortunately too scared to follow through…until many years later–but that’s another story. I often wonder how I might have done things differently if I’d have had the brains (and the balls) to realize I was gay during my high school days. Or would it have been too much for me then? I see stories like the one about Tyler Clementi and ENTIRELY sympathize with them.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Z!

  2. Adrian October 20, 2010 at 5:27 pm #190

    Love the story (and pic!!!). I wish we would have been comic-book friends nerds back in high school. I guess i’ll settle for the present. 🙂

  3. Nathan October 20, 2010 at 10:56 am #189

    Yeah! What a wonderful story. I wish I had discovered a close friend who I could talk to about my sexuality, but in Northern Idaho where I grew up, I only find one state sponsored counselor. That one meeting was enough for me, I realized I would survive high school and maybe even go to college where I eventually found other gay people. Strangely and perhaps sadly I realized later that even in Northern Idaho I was surrounded by gay adults, only no one ever talked about it.

Leave a Reply