As an adolescent, I promised myself that when I grew up, I’d write a novel in support of the LGBTQ+ community. I decided that I’d portray many forms of homophobia — from covert attitudes to overt violence. I’d also include validation and support from friends — the empowerment of family acceptance — several paths to becoming an ally.
This post is a chapter from the book that evolved many years later. I’ve changed the names in this post from the names in the book. I made this choice for readers, so that the character who comes out can reveal herself in her own time, in her own way, as the novel progresses. Aside from the names, this post portrays the chapter exactly as it was written.
I wish for each person a safe, supportive path toward becoming who you’re meant to be.
Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable
“Follow me!” Joe ran into the water, diving onto his surfboard. He glanced over his shoulder at his mother and sister. “Come on!”
Sue and Mrs. Smith ran in after him. They all skimmed through the warm sea, but Joe didn’t stop with the other surfers. He paddled beyond the breakers, where the world turned still.
Mrs. Smith sat on her board, and looked back at the Maui shore. “It’s beautiful here.” The water was a sheath of sun-drenched blues.
After a moment, Sue spoke up. “Are we going to surf?”
In a minute,” Joe answered. “First we talk.”
“About what?” Sue’s hair reflected the heat like onyx.
“About IT.” Joe looked at his mother “We all maneuver around IT. Time to talk.”
“Okay, where do we start?” Sue asked.
“Some of my friends want to ask you out. What should I say?”
“Who?” Sue grinned.
“They swore me to secrecy. What should I tell them?”
“Tell them…Mom, fasten your seatbelt…tell them I’m seeing someone.”
Mrs. Smith smiled. “That’s nice, then it won’t hurt their feelings, and..” her smile froze. “You’re not actually…oh dear, you are actually seeing someone.”
“May I ask who?”
“Not yet,” Sue said quietly. “Soon, but not yet.”
“Do I know her?” Mrs. Smith asked.
“Do I like her?”
“Oh shit,” Mrs. Smith said so primly that both of her children burst out laughing.
A long pause.
“I thought I was getting more comfortable with a gay daughter, but it seems I have work to do.”
“Mom, it’s just like me with my girlfriend,” Joe said. “I mean, Sue and her girlfriend do the same stuff I do with…”
“Thank you for that image I shall try mightily to forget,” Mrs. Smith interrupted, and they all laughed again.
“Look, substitute the word gay for straight, and she’s the exact same pain in the neck kid sister she was before she told us.” Joe watched the swells closely. “Gotta go. Surfing calls. Good talk.” Then he paddled furiously and caught the next wave.
“Well, that was enlightening,” Mrs. Smith grinned, and Sue laughed.
“It’s not just you, Mom. I’m still not totally comfortable being gay.”
“Can I help in any way?”
Sue’s eyes filled with tears. “Thanks, Mom, you just did help.”
“I’m getting used to the idea.”
“Me too. It’s getting better.”
“May I ask a difficult question?”
“Absolutely yes, ask it, whatever it is.”
“Did I do something wrong? Or is it because your father died?”
“No it’s nothing like that. I don’t understand where it comes from. But I’ve known since I was twelve, even though I didn’t know the word gay.”
“That makes me feel a lot better,” her mother smiled. “It’s not about something going wrong.”
“I’m not sure what it’s about.”
“It’s about your becoming who you’re meant to be.”
Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable deals with homophobic bullying in high school, and follows a girl’s journey after she comes out to her family. The story tracks a group of diverse high school friends as they confront homophobia in themselves and others, and find individual paths to becoming allies.