When I was 8 years old, I hung a poster of Mia Hamm up on my bedroom wall. Did I like soccer? No, I was more of a softball kind of kid. I was drawn to her athleticism, her strength, and the fact that she was a woman. But I didn’t focus too much on that. I had already developed a deep adoration of my first- and second-grade teachers. Both were cheerful, kind, young and beautiful. I stayed in during recess to “help” with tasks, becoming a tried and true teacher’s pet.
Being a high schooler in the early- to mid-aughts was full of typical angsty teenage passion. Emo music was at its peak, AOL’s Instant Messenger sounds chimed through our desktop computers, and MySpace’s Top 8 was the purest form of hot gossip. Being gay, however, was not cool. Though my school did have students who were out, I was not one of them. I decided instead to have very secret and quiet relationships with girls in between my very public and loud relationships with boys.
Gayness wasn’t a scary thing in my home. In fact, my younger brother was out in ninth grade at the same school. Admitting my own sexuality to myself was a bigger hurdle to jump than admitting it to my family. I needed a lifeline to wrestle those feelings with. A living breathing human who would hear me and validate me and tell me that it was okay that I liked Tegan and Sara more than for their music, and that it was okay to sneak downstairs to see portions of The L Word on Showtime.
Crisis Text Line would have been my saving grace as a teenager. Knowing that I wasn’t alone and hearing confirmation that I was normal would have made the road to coming out much, much easier. Being a Crisis Counselor is the perfect way to be who you needed as a teenager. Every teen could benefit from that added support, a confidential ear and voice to remind them that they’re going to get through this and that it does get better.