One year ago today, I stopped and stood before two paths. One was inviting; clear of obstacles, downhill, sunlit as if Nature herself smiled upon it, and the reasonable direction to take. But I knew it would grow steeper and darker as I went further. It would lead to a place where I could no longer move forward nor turn around. I would become lost, whither, and die there alone.

The other was unpleasant; gnarly, uphill, shaded beneath reproachful trees, hardly even a path at all. And I couldn't be sure what was at the end of it. Perhaps it was merely an alternate route to the same forsaken conclusion. But it might go somewhere else.

I didn't want either of these choices. I hadn't asked for them. I hadn't sought them. But I had to keep walking, to keep going somewhere, and here was the fork.

I took a breath, heard a cacophony of half-formed voices, and listened to the one that spoke softest but surest.

I haven't looked back.

A year ago I said two words; two simple, unimportant, stupid words that have yet been made into an oath of allegiance, a dire prophecy, a confession to crime, and a keystone to identity. I'm gay. Were this world a perfect place, saying these words would have been no more difficult than saying, "I have brown hair," "I wear glasses," "I like to read," or "I'm a human being." But this world is not a perfect place. It's a place where people love each other, hate each other, fuck each other, kill each other, and most of all misunderstand each other. We make do with what's given.

I rendered myself vulnerable all over again to my parents, gave them all the tools they needed to beat me to the ground or lift me up. They chose the latter. They've stuck by that choice. I am desperately grateful to them for their support, understanding, kindness, and love. I know they will be there for me as long as they can, that I can trust them to push aside every idiotic instruction society yells in their faces for one overriding duty, I will love my child.

The next steps have been more difficult to take. With one friend, coming out was an uneventful passing word in conversation. With another, it was a joke. With another, an argument. The sphere of people who know I'm one of the 'abominables' is steadily growing, in sudden bursts. Some voluntary, some not. It won't take much longer before the dam breaks in a rush of gossip and rumor. I'm not sure what will happen then. The school I attend is of the regal, Catholic sort. The kids there are good underneath. I don't hold any animosity towards them. But they have some basic assumptions which will conflict with experience. I don't how they'll handle the cognitive dissonance. But I'm not going to be one of those people returning to the high school reunion to sheepishly introduce my partner. Or not introduce him at all. Goddamnit, I'm not. So it will happen sometime soon. After a year, I'm ready.

This year has been an eventful one for the broader community as well. A war took everyone's eyes off the simmering conflict for some time, but now that dead Iraqis and Americans are no longer primetime newsworthy, things have gone swinging back into action. A respected Senator declared we were not people, somewhat more like animals that need to be regulated and controlled. The Supreme Court decided otherwise. One nation gave men and women permission to fall in love and commit themselves to one another. Another vows it will never do the same. My mother often regaled me with a Chinese blessing/curse, "May you live in interesting times." I swear mothers are clairvoyant.

Amongst all this bustle I've been gifted with the best base of support for which any confused teenager could ask. Outies has been a wonderful group, embodying the precept of 'family' in every sense of the word. We've cracked jokes, laughed, argued, got angry with each other, supported each other, circled the wagons, and opened them again to admit new friends. From their ranks I've made some of my truest friends in this quirky, epic little community. You guys have saved my life. I do not hyperbolize. Queer teens are twenty to 35% more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. Persons diagnosed with bipolar disorder are 20% more likely. I've gotten pretty damn close. The care and support from many noders, gay and straight, has been a strong force for holding me back long enough to come to my senses. To everyone who's ever shown me kindness, whether it was a long fascinating conversation, a quick concerned message, or just a passing compliment, thank you. I am in your debt.

So, to another year of being queer, of cheerfully working my way up this path with people I love towards a better future. Cheers.