By Melissa Norris
I was a façade before she found me, a mere shell of the person hiding inside.
Looking at these photos, now all I feel is pity for the girl I used to be. Before I met her, these bare images were my life. I spent so many hours altering them, trying to discover who I really was. I leached the colour and searched the jagged shapes left behind for a hint of my true self, a reason for my feelings for her, she who was just like me, and others of our kind.
Back then I was too afraid to look her in the eyes. The girl in the photos, my old self, was just the same. I never looked straight ahead but tilted my head to the side, my gaze at an angle, sometimes even looking away. Secrets lay behind those eyes and despite the intensity of my gaze, my inner self begging to be let free, nothing but words could ever come close to dragging my true self out into the open; nothing but words could be powerful enough to counter my fright, and until they emanated from her lips I wouldn’t have known they existed for me, but there they were: I love you.
In those early days when she looked through my photo album she wanted to know why I wasn’t smiling. There was a slight curve to my lips, a hint of pleasure in my eyes, but my expression was full of fear and vulnerability so deep that it begged to be covered up, hidden inside. I was a million things but none of them were happy. Every image was a façade, a lie.
Now there’s a new picture hanging on her wall. It’s of two girls with open hearts, two girls sitting in each other’s arms, two girls in love. Now as I look upon that photo with pride I remember what she said to me when I was still finding myself, back when I first tried to deny my feelings for her. She told me it didn’t matter what they thought or what they said about me. Love is love in all its many forms and ours was just as powerful. She told me I was all she needed to be happy. I told her she was all I needed to no longer want to hide.
Now as I look at this photo hanging on the wall I see myself for the first time: my real self with a truly happy smile brought out by the love that she provides.
MELISSA NORRIS is a journalism and creative writing student who believes that everyone deserves to be treated fairly and with equal respect and rights.
Through writing she hopes to help to break down the stigma surrounding homosexuality and to foster empathy and understanding for same sex couples.