When I was fifteen, I came out as gay. I asked the chaplain at my Catholic high school if I could put up a poster for a queer youth group dubbed “1 in 10” — a reference to the widely circulated stat that 10% of people were queer. The chaplain dismissed the figure, claiming it was based on a survey of men in prison, and wouldn’t let me put the poster up.
I was enraged. The chaplain’s ignorant rejection denied me and others of a vital support group. So I found a different way to express myself: with my body. I shaved my head and stopped shaving my legs and armpits.
I walked the halls, took communion, and prayed wearing combat boots and army shorts.
I was, after all, at war. A walking reminder that queer kids existed. I wouldn’t be erased.