11 – United
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11

United

“Hey, Julie,” Daniel said, leaning on the doorframe of my room.

“Yeah?” I asked, raising my head. I had been focusing on some schoolwork and listening to music and zoned out. I took out my earbud to focus on what Daniel was about to say.

“I’m bringing the guys over to practice some football today,” he said. “It’s a Saturday so I figured we should get some work in.”

“Oh, sure,” I said. “I’ll just stay in my room then.”

“Ryan’s coming too,” he said, laughing. “Should I send him up here for a while?”

“Daniel, what the hell?” I said. “No!”

“I’ll tell him you’re in your room,” Daniel said as he closed my room door. I tossed a Rubik's cube at him but he was already gone.

***

I heard Dad welcoming Daniel’s friends and laughing loudly downstairs. His voice was so loud it echoed throughout the entire house. I sighed and put on my earbuds, focusing on my studying. I still had quite a bit of homework for other people to complete. I finally landed on Ryan’s math homework, something that made me think of him.

I rested my head on my left arm as I wrote with my right, I made sure to take extra care of Ryan’s homework. Showing all the steps and making sure I landed on the correct answer. I frowned, did I make it too perfect? Whatever, he could use a bump in his grades. I got fully absorbed in doing homework when I heard a knock at my door.

“Who is it?” I asked, raising my head. Nobody usually disturbed me during Daniel’s football days. Dad was too busy coaching them and Mom was too busy cooking to satiate their endless appetite.

“Hi,” I heard Ryan’s familiar voice say as he opened the door.

“Wait, did Daniel send you up here?” I asked, frowning. I didn’t think he’d actually do it.

“Daniel?” he asked. “No, I just came up here on my own since there was a break in activity. I figured that I might as well say hi.”

“Oh,‘ I said, my neutral expression turning into a smile. “How are you?”

“Same old, same old,” he said. “Just another day hanging out with the team. You?”

“Fun,” I said, lazily doodling on a piece of paper. “I’m just completing some homework for other people. Here’s yours, by the way.”

“Oh, thanks,” he said, holding the piece of math homework in his hands. “I still don’t know how you’re so good at replicating my handwriting.”

“It’s a talent I picked up somehow,” I said. I took out an earbud to listen to what Ryan was saying more clearly.

“Oh, what are you listening to?” he asked. He moved from the doorway to my bed, taking a seat on the mattress.

“I don’t think you would like it,” I said, blushing. My music taste was a little wild, especially for a girl. “It’s a little heavy.”

“No, I’m sure it’ll be fine,” he said, a lopsided grin showing up on his face. “I can listen to just about anything.”

“Okay then,” I said, handing him an earbud. “If you insist.‘

“Why isn’t it working?” he asked. “I don’t hear anything.”

“I think it’s meant to only be in one person’s ears at a time,” I said, frowning. “So it’s not working since we’re far away from one another.”

“Let’s get closer then,” he said. He patted the seat next to him. I awkwardly got up out of my seat and sat next to him on my bed. “It’s still not playing.”

“That’s weird,” I muttered. “I guess we’re still not close enough.‘

“Here, lean on my shoulder,” he said.

I moved my head onto his shoulders, the warmth emanating off his body. I blushed, this felt way too intimate for me. The music finally started playing. The drums came in first, covered by distorted guitar and Kurt Cobain's raspy voice. The music was very heavy and grungy rock, something I worried Ryan wouldn’t like. After a few good minutes, the song came to a close.

“You weren’t lying when you said it was heavy,” Ryan said, laughing gently.

“I told you you wouldn’t like it!” I yelled out, embarrassed.

“No, I did like it,” he said, smirking at me. “It was just not what I was used to.”

“I’m glad you liked it then,” I said.

“You can get off my shoulder, by the way,” Ryan said, smirking.

“Oh,” I quickly moved my head off his shoulder. “Sorry, I forgot.”

My door suddenly burst open as Daniel walked in. “Ryan, what the fuck are you doing up here?” he asked. “We were all looking for you, you’re lucky I found you first.”

“Shit, my bad,” Ryan replied, looking at his phone. “I didn’t think that much time passed already.”

“Ugh, just get back down here,” Daniel said. He grabbed Ryan by the arm and opened my room door, ready to go back downstairs. I couldn’t help but giggle a little bit at the hectic scene.

“I’ll see you on Tuesday, Julie,” Ryan said as Daniel dragged him out of the room.

***

“Welcome to our third GSA meeting,” Ryan said. “Now I promised we’d do more things specifically related to LGBT topics rather than just general socializing. So I prepared a quick educational PowerPoint about some of the basics of LGBT topics. I’m sure most of you will already know this, but I just wanted to go over it real quick before we delve into some of the deeper stuff. After that finishes up, we’ll socialize a little as always. Any questions?”

“Okay then,” Ryan said, nodding after the room stayed silent. “Let’s get started then.”

Ryan went through his little presentation, teaching us about the basics of LGBT people. It was a little too basic though, going through things that surely almost everyone would know about.

“Ryan, I think you’re forgetting there aren’t any clueless cishet allies here,” Alex said, rolling their eyes. “I think we all knew the information presented here.”

“Ehem, Alex,” Zoe said. “We do kind of have a cishet ally here that was a little clueless.“ She tilted her head towards me.

“Oh, actually,” I said, nervously. “I’m not sure about that.”

“Wait, are you sure about this?” Ryan asked.

Yes, I am,“ I said. I told myself I’d make small steps to start coming out to more people outside of the two who already knew, but now that I was in a position to actually do that, my heart started to pound. I knew I’d be safe coming out to the people here, but that didn’t make it any less scary.

“What do you all mean?” Jasmine said, leaning in towards me. “Is there something I’m out of the loop on?”

“I’m not sure if I’m cisgender,” I squeaked out.

“Wait, so you’re trans?” Jasmine asked, gasping.

“Yeah,” I squeaked out. “I did some research after that day where we were researching Stonewall and trans people. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I was like them.”

“Didn’t realize we’d get an egg cracking this early into the GSA club,” Thomas said, leaning back in his chair.

“Wait, wait,” Jasmine said, putting both of her hands forward. “Go back to the beginning, how’d this all happen again?”

I explained everything that happened, from first meeting Ryan, to joining the club, and eventually discovering myself. Everyone listened pretty attentively, interested in what I was saying, including Ms. Castillo.

“Oh my God, congratulations, Julie,” Jasmine said, clapping after I finished up my story. Everyone else slowly joined in, lightly clapping. I blushed, a little embarrassed that everyone was making such a big deal of it.

“This is so cute,” Zoe said, leaning on Jasmine’s shoulder. “I’m glad you found out who you are.”

“Thank you,” I said, happy to hear my real name being spoken.

“Wait, I think we’re forgetting something here,” Alex said, laughing. “Ryan, so you literally blackmailed poor Julie here after you caught her dressed up.”

“Look, oh my God, let me justify myself,” Ryan said, finally joining the discussion. “We really needed a sixth member to get this off the ground and I got some not-cisgender vibes from her, okay?”

“Doesn’t justify the blackmail,” Alex said, shrugging.

“I can’t think of many cis people who would go around dressing up as the other gender.”

“There are cisgender crossdressers,” Alex said.

“Okay, fine. You know what, I’ll admit it. It was messed up,” Ryan said. “But hey, at least my hunch turned out to be right.”

“Also, what exactly is going on between you two, huh?” Zoe asked, furrowing her brows.

“What do you mean?” I asked, my heart starting to pound slightly. I may have mentioned a little too much about Ryan.

“Okay, so you two go on a date, Julie,” Zoe said, leaning in. “He buys you everything, including a super cute and expensive dress, and that’s it?”

“Yeah, where’s the romance, Ryan?” Jasmine asked with a hand over her mouth as she lightly laughed. “Our second GSA couple could come to fruition too.”

“I saw you two talking after the football game too,” Thomas said, staring deep into my eyes. “I’m a little curious as to what’s happening as well”

“Oh my god, they were talking after the game?” Alex asked.

“Look, I can assure you that nothing is going on between us yet,” Ryan said, putting up an arm to stop all the chatter.

“Yeah,” I said, speaking up. “We’re just friends for now.”

“Yet and for now? Seems like there’s something planned for the future,” Jasmine said, smirking at us.

“Let’s leave them alone, look at Julie,” Alex said, pointing at me. By that point, I was furiously blushing red, and I suppose that it became rather obvious.

“Yeah, she’s as red as a tomato, let’s leave it at that,” Ryan said, nodding.

“Of course, you’d want the teasing to stop, Ryan,” Jasmine said. “But fine, let’s leave it at that. I think Julie will burst if we tease her anymore.”

Despite the teasing, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief, glad that everyone took it so well. I was very nervous, but I felt like I made another important step in my trans journey.

“What do you have planned for next week, Ryan?” Alex said after a few seconds of silence. “I hope it’s better than the presentation you made this week.”

“Hey, look, I did my best,” Ryan said, pointing at his poorly designed PowerPoint. “But we’re going to have another quick lesson, I promise I’ll do better this time, and try to raise more awareness of how LGBT people at school can get support.”

“How would we do that?” Zoe asked, raising her brows. “How could we raise awareness?”

“Yeah, we can design posters that talk about some of the resources we have at the school, and the club itself. Not to brag, but I think we have a pretty welcoming environment here,” Ryan said, chuckling. “Even got an egg to hatch already.”

“Yeah, yeah, such a welcoming environment that you had to blackmail someone to come,” Alex said, laughing.

“Hey, I already justified myself on that one,” Ryan said. “Anyways, I think it would be good to help any closeted people here. Like, I’m pretty sure the school has more LGBT people than us.”

“Fair enough, we could recruit some more people too,” Thomas said, nodding. “Never hurts to meet more people.”

“Exactly,” Ryan said. “Also, we mentioned the football game earlier, right? I expect everyone to have seen my touchdown.”

“Of course, Ryan is bragging again,” Alex said, rolling their eyes.

“Look, this is a supportive community, right?” Ryan asked.

“Yes, I guess it is,” Alex said cautiously.

“Then, being supportive of my football exploits is part of that,” Ryan said.

“God, you’re hopeless, Ryan,” Alex said, laughing.

“Hey, a good idea from that,” Jasmine said. “How about we leverage Ryan’s popularity to get more members here.”

“You know what, that’s not a bad idea,” Ryan said. “Let me try and see if I can get what we’re doing involved in the football game.”

We went from talking about this to that, and time passed quicker than I thought. I spent most of my time laughing at what everyone else was saying. Everyone in the club had really good chemistry with one another, and it made for some funny moments.

“I kind of don’t want this club meeting to end,” Thomas said, laughing. “It’s really nice talking to you all.”

“It is!” Alex said. “Especially since we’re all part of the LGBT community now, makes it even easier to talk.”

“How about we don’t have this club block end, at least not just yet,” Ryan said, pacing around in the front of the room.

“What do you mean?” I asked, scratching my head.

“I’m just suggesting that we all go to the roller skating rink after this ends,” Ryan said. “Nice way to bond, not to mention I was not invited to the arcade.”

“Oh my God, sorry,” Jasmine said, putting a hand over her mouth. “We were just all grouped together and went without thinking.”

“It’s no problem,” Ryan said, laughing. “I don’t mind. But, it would be nice to do a group activity outside of school, what do you all say?”

“I’m up for it,” Alex said, raising their hand. Slowly, more and more people joined in after checking their phones and schedules. Eventually, we had the entire club ready to go.

“Perfect timing,” Ryan said, looking down at his phone. “Club just ended, let’s get going.”

“Julie, can I talk to you a little bit?” Ms. Castillo asked, lightly grabbing my shoulder just as I was about to leave the class.

“Guys, wait up for a second,” I said before turning around. “What is it, Ms. Castillo?”

“I guess this explains why you were antisocial and a little nervous to interact with other people,” Ms. Castillo said with a weak smile on her face. “I was very surprised to hear you were transgender, although I perhaps should have noticed it earlier after you stated your reasons.”

“I didn’t expect it either, to be honest,” I said, chuckling a little.

“I was just going to ask if you had any plans of coming out to the school. Westside is a very supportive environment and has strong anti-harassment policies.”

“I do kind of want to,” I said, scratching my head. “But I’m a little worried about how my parents would react to all this. I have to come out to them first before I can even think about coming out to the school.”

“Oh, are they not supportive?” she asked, frowning. “That would make things difficult.”

“I think my mom could be,” I said, thinking hard about my family situation. “My dad though, that’s where the issue lies. He always wants me to be some masculine man which puts a lot of pressure on me.”

“I see,” she said, stroking her chin. “Well, I won’t keep you from being with your friends. I hope everything goes well, and feel free to come to me if you ever need any help.”

“Thanks, Ms. Castillo,” I said, smiling. “I’ll see you tomorrow!”

“Yes, congratulations again, Julie,” she said, smiling. I rushed out of the classroom, ready to join my friends.

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