I’m From Orange, VA.

by Travis Warby

Satellite overhead image of Virginia from Google Earth 2022

When I came out it was like a bomb had gone off in my town.

I was 14 and the only openly gay person in my entire high school. I did it very suddenly, basically I just got tired of hiding. I made up my mind that I wouldn’t just out myself but I also wouldn’t keep lying about it either. Less than a week later a classmate asked me out of the blue if I was gay and I said yes which obviously took her by surprise. As soon as I got to school the next morning, people I had only met once, and some never, were asking me about it or saying hateful things to me. Within a week I had half of my school harassing me in the hallways, tripping me, stealing my books or otherwise causing trouble. One day some kids threw a milk carton at me, which left me soaked. I obviously reacted poorly to this and went off with a string of not so pleasant words. I got in trouble for it but I took up for myself. I stood my ground on the issue and refused to back down. I was who I was and there was no reason to be ashamed of it.

That first year was hell, but over the next two years I wound up becoming friends with all of the girls in my high school and center of a growing liberal/gay-friendly scene. In my senior year I was elected senior class president and head of multiple school clubs. I wound up becoming one of the most popular kids in all of my high school. Near the end of the year I was forced to drop out due to problems at home and move to Charlottesville, a nearby city. Due to all of my hard work and perseverance I managed to make it easier on all the people of the younger generation after me. When I left I was the only openly gay kid in my school but I have had more than a few of my classmates tell me that the next year at least ten other students came out. Many of these have contacted me, some out of the blue, to thank me for being so open with who I am and making it easier on them. So while my high school years weren’t especially good, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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