A Conversation With My Closeted 17 Year-Old Self

I’m home for the holidays which can only mean two things: 1. I’m emotional and 2. I’m looking at pictures of myself from when I was in high school. I’d take a wild guess and say the two things are correlated. Seeing old pictures of yourself is both mortifying and life-affirming. On one hand, I’m so glad I no longer have a nose ring and wear mismatched Puma shoes. On the other, I can’t believe I even pierced my nose and thought mismatched Puma shoes were a good idea. But in my defense, I was in the closet-a cold dark shameful place that compels you to do strange things to your face and body- and I didn’t come out of it until my senior year of high school. That means for seventeen years, I was telling people that vagina was something that made me happy and excited. That means for seventeen years, I was renting gay independent films from Blockbuster and watching them before my mom came home from work. That means for seventeen years, I refused to address the pink bedazzled elephant in the room. Gosh, it’s exhausting just typing about it. Sometimes I wish I could talk to closeted seventeen year-old me and tell him that being gay is totally fun and cool and to stop living such an insane lie! Then I realized that I sort of could. Creative writing on the Internet is the gift that keeps on giving!

Me: Hi, 17 year-old me.

Teen Me: Hello, tall dark stranger who looks like me without the severe cystic acne. Do you like my jeans? They’re Abercrombie girl jeans with flares!

Me: Stop wearing girl jeans. And stop dyeing your hair blue and purple. And stop wearing mismatched shoes.

Teen Me: But it’s all so fun!

Me: It’s not. I think you’re just doing it because you’re in the closet and need to express your suppressed homosexuality.

Teen Me: I am not gay!

Me: Do I need to look at your Internet history to prove otherwise?

Teen Me: Shhh! So what if I am?  Are you gay?

Me: Um, yes. You are gay.

Teen Me: Well, when do I come out? I bet it was lonely and miserable and no boy would touch me.

Me: Chin up, babe. I hate hearing myself talk like that. You actually come out of the closet in a few months and fall in teenage love with a boy!

Teen Me: Wait, are you joking? Please. I’m fragile. Are you serious?

Me: I’m so serious.

Teen Me: Do we have sex?

Me: So much bad teenage sex.

Teen Me: Wow. I’ve never been so excited to have bad sex before. Does this boy….you know…does he love me?

Me: Sort of. I guess. Yes.

Teen Me: That’s good. I would like to be loved.

Me: And when you’re my age, you’ll essentially be a professional homosexual.

Teen Me: What does that mean?

Me: It means you are going to write about gay things and get paid for it. In essence, you’ll get paid to be gay.

Teen Me: Like Carrie Bradshaw?

Me: But gay.

Teen Me: Wow. That sounds fun and sort of not real.

Me: It is. So what are you waiting for? Go out there and claim your big gay life! Grab it by the balls and make out with it!

Teen Me: OK, thanks gay me. I will! Bye! TC mark

That was inspiring. It almost made me want to come out of the closet all over again. Almost.

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Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • http://twitter.com/artis_k Artis Kamals

    Woow.

  • JJ

    This was amazing and hilarious.

  • bencord0

    Reminds me about http://xkcd.com/267/
    If only the universe could work that way.

  • http://sixmetamorphoses.blogspot.com/ Jordan

    I think that you are much more lenient and understanding with your seventeen year-old self that I would be with mine. I wish I could take that pair of bright purple Chuck Taylors with the rainbow shoestrings and beat my younger self over the head with them. And then a nice, long lecture about socially acceptable footwear and how real individuality has nothing to do with wearing flashy, tacky shit.

  • http://twitter.com/billApomerans Bill A Pomerans

    great

  • Anne

    i love you

  • http://exitclov.tumblr.com exitclov

    beautiful

  • Antique

    This made my night. Thank you Ryan!

  • Brian McElmurry

    Sweet! I enjoyed.

  • http://influxnews.com/writer-ryan-oconnell-talks-about-his-new-memoir-being-gay-and-having-cerebral-palsy-2/ Writer Ryan O’Connell Talks About His New Memoir, Being Gay, and Having Cerebral Palsy | InfluxNews

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    […] years, you have probably read about Ryan O’Connell’s personal life. In blog posts like “A Conversation with My Closeted 17-Year-Old Self” and “Having a One-Year Stand,” the gay writer has chronicled his day-to-day exploits on […]

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