I’m coming out

I’m coming out
I’m coming
I’m coming out
I’m coming out
I’m coming out
I’m coming out
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

She walks into the Crown Plaza humming a tune no one hears. Her smile is easy even though her heart thuds in her ears so loudly she can’t hear the well-wishers. Someone catches her arm from behind and she smells the perfume before she even turns around.

“Susie,” she wraps her arms around the thin blonde, “thank you for coming. It’s so nice to see you.”

Damn formalities. Susie smiles demurely and apologizes to the group of supporters, “I’m sorry, but I really have to talk to Kelly. I’ll send her right back, I promise.” Once out of sight, Susie turns to Kelly, “Are you sure you want to do this? This is a huge step, honey.”

Kelly shakes her head, “I have to do this, Susie. I’ve wanted to do this since that night freshman year. I have to do this.”

Susie nods with a smile, “I know. I think you might have told me a couple thousand times. Do you have your speech?”

“Yeah. I have been working on it for 4 years. It’s perfect. Short, sweet, and to the point.” Kelly’s eyes twinkle with mischief. “I can’t wait. My heart is beating so fast!” She takes Susie’s hand and lays it on her own bare chest, “Feel.”

Susie strokes the skin there lightly, remembering the taste of it, “I feel. You know I support you no matter what, right? And you know I’m here cheering you on.”

“I know. But I want you to know that your name is nowhere in this. I swear. And they can ask me until they use all the oxygen in Pennsylvania, but I’m not going to tell them your name. You have my word on that.”

Susie chuckles, “I don’t think they’re going to use up that much oxygen. Besides, when they exhale they put out more hot air anyway.” She wraps her arms around Kelly, “I love you, Kel.”

“I love you too, Ollie.” They share a brief kiss before returning to the party hand-in-hand. As soon as they are within eyeshot of the guests, they share a squeeze and separate.

There’s a new me coming out
And I just had to live
And I wanna give
I’m completely positive
I think this time around
I am gonna do it
Like you never do it
Like you never knew it
Ooh, I’ll make it through
The time has come for me
To break out of the shell
I have to shout
That I’m coming out

”And she’s been a wonderful influence on our team. I’m really going to miss her. Ladies and gentlemen, Kelly Mason.” Renae claps and smiles as Kelly makes her way to the stage.

As her coach hugs her, Kelly whispers, “It’s been fun, coach.”

Renea responds, “It’s been my pleasure, Kelly. Really.”

Ohhh you have no idea how much pleasure I’m about to get out of it, though. Kelly takes a deep breath and steps behind the podium. She unfolds her speech as the applause dies down. Here goes everything.

I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show
I’ve got to show the world
All that I wanna be
And all my abilities
There’s so much more to me
Somehow, I have to make them
Just understand
I got it well in hand
And, oh, how I’ve planned
I’m spreadin’ love
There’s no need to fear
And I just feel so glad
Everytime I hear

“Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Four years ago I stepped onto this campus a bright-eyed freshman. I was unsure of myself and where I was headed in life. But one thing was for certain: I was going to bring a basketball with me and I was going to be the best.

But the best at what? I still remember that first practice as a freshman. God, I was so nervous! I sat in the front row, eager to get on the court and prove that I was good enough for this scholarship, good enough to be on this team, and Lord help me, good enough to start.

But when the team took the court there was something missing. There was some part of me that didn’t belong. But I pushed it aside. I didn’t need that part of me anyhow. I was going to be the best at hiding it. Then it happened. The night of January 7th, 2001.

I was walking across the campus and fell flat on my butt. Right in the middle of the quad. This strong hand came out of nowhere, coupled with a laugh, mind you, and I met my best friend. We bonded that quarter and in June of that year, we finally exchanged “I love you”s. And it’s by far the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

It’s changed my life, this relationship that I have. I have grown into a young woman who is tough as nails and weak as wet spaghetti noodles. But isn’t that how love is? You can’t help but shout it from roof-tops and tell all your friends about it? But I didn’t.

I am the best at hiding it. I’d be asked about relationships and shy away from them because the team was asked not to speak about boyfriends. No problem. I avoided questions like that as if they alone would give me the plague. I dodged joke after joke about dating this one and that one and being a nun. I blushed and fumbled my words and almost let it slip so many times, I just can’t tell you.

But I didn’t. I held strong and no one knew.

I am the best at not telling a soul. But I can’t anymore. I have to say it or I swear I’ll bust. I’m the best player on the team according to my coach. I’m the best daughter according to my parents. I’m the best friend according to my buds. I’m the best teammate according to my team. And I’m the best partner according to the one I love.

I am the best.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year when Jess and Tanisha came in that I figured out what was missin’ on the court. I heard it in her voice when Coach spoke those same words she spoke to me as a freshman. I was missin’ me. Coach has very specific rules when we play: No drinking, no drugs, no lesbians. I am the best at following all but one.

I am a basketball player. I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am a teammate. I am a non-smoker. I am a non-drinker. But I am a lesbian.

And I’m the best damn lesbian you’ll ever meet. The best young woman you’ll ever know. Just ask my coach.

Thank you, and good night.”

She steps off the stadium amid a few gasps. Her team stands and applauds. Her parents though tearful, do the same. And then there’s Susie.

Kelly wishes like hell she could take her and hold her and all but squeeze the life out of her, but she wouldn’t dare. Her speech over with, she planned to leave. She told her parents she was leaving immediately afterwards, since her speech ended the ceremony.

Now, as she walks towards the door, she feels a hand slide into her own. She turns to face a tear-stained face. “Ollie?” She doesn’t speak another word. As they exit the hotel lobby anyone passing can hear Kelly Mason singing softly…

I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

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