Colors of Adolescence: Gray

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When he fumbled a ripped note into my hands at summer camp and pleaded with me to “please read it alone,” I prayed that it wasn’t a love letter. But as my fingers fished for a confession, they stumbled across an unexpected one: “I’m gay.”

Growing up, the absolute homogeneity at my school had what seemed like perks. My peers and I shared similar roots; we had common experiences that molded our world views. And, because I was sheltered from conflicting perspectives, I felt secure when I argued in debate or gave speeches in Model UN.

Whether my peers agreed with me or whether these issues simply didn’t matter to them, I don’t know, but I loved to talk about what I believed in—and, without any pushback from others, I stood by my beliefs. I loved the certainty of the black-and-white world within my school. But the world outside of my school gates—like where he and I met—had a lot more uncertainty.

He wrote on: “If only more Christians and Asians were accepting like you…” For a moment, the sweetness of his compliment masked its bitter core: while the conservative world I grew up in had been a source of security for me, it had been sheer suffocation for my friend.

That day, he came out of the “closet” with confidence, and I lost mine. Were my beliefs seriously flawed, or had I somehow betrayed my background—and if I had, what would now define who I was? There was nothing scarier than the possibility that the ground beneath was no longer firm.

Maybe the sameness of this world actually hurt those who, like him, felt different. Maybe the certainty that my world offered had its dark side.

And in the dichotomy of black-and-white, where would I stand?

But in retrospect—if he could confidently define himself ‘gay,’ I too can proudly define myself: ‘gray.’

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my unforgettable four years. Looking back, so many of my days were spent laughing away—sometimes until I was in tears. Looking back, I also stumbled and fell face-flat at times—and each time, someone was there to raise me back up. Each color of my adolescence has shaped me into the person I am today and I am eternally grateful to every single person who has been in my life.

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