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CONNECTIONS | MAGAZINE

At 16, I was quiet and closeted. Then I discovered queerness meant community.

Though I was scared to tell people, I never feared what my best friend would say.

The writer and his friend Sophie at DC Pride in 2021.RACHEL DHINDSA

I met Sophie on the first day of my freshman year in high school. I could tell she had good fashion sense — after all, we were dressed practically the same, with identical Timex watches and green Converse shoes — and I was drawn to her kindness.

We’d gone to different schools before our paths crossed that day in Spanish class. In middle school, I struggled, feeling like I didn’t fit in. It was an era of loneliness. But I entered high school with high hopes. At a school 20 times larger than my middle school, I was bound to find someone whose interests overlapped with mine.

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Needing help with Spanish homework, I texted Sophie, sparking a friendship. We had more in common than I could’ve imagined. We both cared deeply about school. We listened to the same music. We were both Christian. Although our school was Episcopalian, most of my friends weren’t religious, so Sophie was my go-to person to talk to about faith.

Over the next few years, our friendship strengthened. We had almost identical schedules, and would do homework together and hang out on weekends with our friends. We were two of the six sophomores invited to volunteer at prom. A year later, we were both nominated for the school’s student disciplinary council.

But as I moved through high school, despite all that was going well, something weighed heavily on my mind. I began to realize why I’d stuck out for so much of my life. And the more I thought about it, the more terrified I became.

I am gay.

The realization shook the ground beneath my feet. I’d lay awake at night, praying: God, please don’t make me this way. Even now, my heart races when I think about how hopeless and embarrassed I felt — barely able to say the word “gay” out loud. I kept everything inside. I didn’t want to have to come out to people — in my view, it wasn’t their business. But I also didn’t want to hide who I was.

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When I came out the summer before senior year, I was terrified people would see me differently or make comments. But I wasn’t worried about what Sophie would say; I knew she’d be supportive.

So, to Sophie, I’d like to say:

Thank you for not treating me differently.

Thank you for dancing with me at prom, when I didn’t have a boy take me out to dinner and pin my boutonniere.

Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me that you, too, are gay.

I remember that moment. We were drinking milkshakes, and you said you had feelings for one of our friends. You must have been so scared — I remember how I wanted to disappear after coming out.

We now had this wonderful thing in common — something I initially feared was a curse, but now understand is a gift. We were able to find community with our other queer friends. We shared a common struggle, but also a blessing. This was something others couldn’t understand, and it brought us closer together.

My senior year would’ve been very different if you hadn’t come out to me. I wouldn’t have had anyone to talk to about God, crushes, heartbreak, and how they intertwine. I owe you for this. When you came out to me, I tried to repay you for the support and friendship you’d given me. And yet, I still feel indebted to you.

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I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason; that God put us next to each other on the first day of Spanish class, before either of us knew we were gay, because we needed each other to get where we are today.

Even though we’re separated now by hundreds of miles, and speak less often, I wouldn’t be the person I am if you weren’t there for me during that tumultuous point of my life. Thank you.


Dylan Dhindsa is a co-op at the Globe and a journalism student at Northeastern University. Send comments to magazine@globe.com. Tell your story. Email your 650-word essay on a relationship to connections@globe.com. Please note: We do not respond to submissions we won’t pursue.


Dylan Dhindsa can be reached at dylan.dhindsa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @DylDhi.