June is Pride Month, and I wanted to do something fun to celebrate. I didn’t want to be stereotypical and write a list of books to read (Though, I could have.) In the end, I decided to write out a short story about a character of mine coming out. Zir (One of the gender neutral pronouns) name is Maura, and ze is agender. I wanted to write about the different reactions of friends and family when someone came out.
The story idea ze is from the story ‘Maura in Need of Help’, a short story set in the aftermath of Maura’s coming out and how ze wins over zir love interest Audrey.
This isn’t based on any experience, but a story about a character I really did like when I wrote about zir.
I took a deep breath. This would be easy, no? Many people had come out before.
So why did it feel so frustrating?
I straightened my bow tie in the mirror. My eyes slowly shut, and an image appeared before my eyes. It was me: happy and smiling in an agender pride t-shirt with my arm thrown carelessly across the shoulders of my girlfriend-to-be Audrey. We both looked so happy, grinning like maniacs, in front of a large float during a pride parade.
That was what I expected to happen after I came out.
But, as is, I was still in the closet (It was a cramped place) with no Audrey and no smiles.
“Maura, dear, are you coming down or what? We’ve been waiting for thirty minutes,” my dad shouted from downstairs.
I loosened my collar and gnawed on my lower lip for a second. I had been up here a long time; he was probably getting worried.
A quick glance at my phone revealed a string of positive messages from my internet friends; I had told them I was agender weeks ago, and they were all supportive of my official coming out ceremony.
It was time to take action.
My slippered feet led me down the stairs, one cautious step at a time. I peered over the banister, gazing at my dad, brother, and best friend below. Broseph was checking his phone like usual, surfing Snapchat and grumbling about missing the Most Popular Kid’s party happening at the same time as my coming out.
“I’m here,” I croaked, throat dry.
“Thank goodness. You were taking forever. Now, what did you want to tell us?” my dad inquired; one eyebrow quirked upwards. He seemed to be annoyed at my lack of punctuality but calm. I didn’t need one of his rants today. Not with all this pressure weighing me down.
“I just gotta grab something,” I said, placing my foot on solid ground. “In the kitchen.”
“Fine, but hurry up. I have to make dinner,” my dad replied, lacing his fingers together and resting his hands on his knee.
I scurried over to the kitchen and opened the fridge. I wrapped my hands around the handle of the cake box. Melly had helped me buy it because I wasn’t allowed to leave the house without adult supervision. The plastic knife tumbled off of the box and clattered to the floor.
“Maura?” my dad called, “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah,” I replied, “everything’s all fine and dandy.”
I could hear his huff of annoyance. My heart raced as I bent to grab the knife. My fingers curled around its plastic handle.
When I stepped into the living room, all eyes were me.
“Why are we here?” Broseph asked, putting down his phone for once.
“I have called you all here to…too,” I said, clearing my throat, “discuss an important matter.”
“Hop to it. I have things to do,” my dad grumbled. “This better be important.”
“Oh, I assure you, it is,” I said, placing the cake box in front of them.
Timmy offered me a reassuring smile, reaching for the clasp holding the box shut.
“Before you do that, Timmy, give me a second to say something,” I said. Timmy nodded curtly and sat back. “So you probably all know me.”
Broseph scoffed. “We’re your family and best friend. Of course, we know you.”
“What I meant was that you could describe me. I’m Maura, of course, but I’m also into theater. I’m also into Audrey, which made you think I was gay, but you’re all sadly mistaken.” I inhaled slowly. “I’m not gay.”
“Is that all?” Broseph demanded. “I’m missing a party for this. Can I at least eat cake?”
“Hold o-” I began but was rudely interrupted by my brother, snatching up the cake box and opening it.
“What the…” he whispered.
On the cake inside read the simple message: “I’m agender.”
“Maura, what in the world is agender?” my dad asked gently.
“Agender is well…when you don’t have a gender,” I said.
“How do you not have gender? You are a female. You have female body parts,” Broseph protested. “Look at yourself.”
“No no, you misunderstand. Gender is…what you think you are. Who you want to be. Sex is anatomy and biology,” I explained. “So I’m still genetically female, but I identify as agender.”
“What should we call you?” Timmy asked calmly. He had his phone out and seemed to be checking Google for more information. “Your noun, I mean. I assume you’ll remain Maura.”
“Yeah, I’m still Maura. And my pronouns are ze and zir,” I replied.
“Cool,” Timmy said, sliding his phone back into his pocket.
Broseph scowled. “What? Pronouns?” I let out an exhausted sigh but turned to my dad instead.
“Dad? Are you okay? You’re really quiet,” I said.
“I’m just…I didn’t know about this stuff. It’ll take some time to process,” he replied. He rubbed his thumb against his temple, letting out a soft sigh. “I might need to research some.”
“It’s okay,” I said gently. “Take your time.”
Then, and only then, I looked at my brother. His teeth were clenched, and he was glaring at me. “What’s up, bro?” I asked softly.
“I don’t understand,” he muttered. “What does this mean? Are you not my sister anymore? God…” He snuck a glance at the door. “Can I just take a walk?”
“Sure, if that makes you feel better,” I said, “but I’m always here if you need to understand.” I held out my arms for a sibling hug, but Broseph shrugged off my hug and stormed out, hands shoved deep into his pockets.
“Can I eat cake?” Timmy asked, glancing at me for permission. I shrugged. “It was mainly for the reveal but sure. I’m not sure what cake Melly got,” I said.
I plopped down on the couch next to my best friend and buried my face in his shoulder.
“That could have gone better,” I whispered, my words muffled by his skirt.
“Hm?” Timmy asked.
“Nothing,” I said.
My dad held out a hand. “What?” I asked, looking up from Timmy’s shoulder. I raised an eyebrow when he wiggled his fingers.
“I think he wants cake,” Timmy clarified.
And that’s when I couldn’t handle it anymore and burst out laughing. My dad stuck his tongue out at me before cutting a slice and shoveling it down his throat, fingers getting coated in frosting. “Mmm, red velvet,” he said, “but seriously, I gotta go.” He grabbed his laptop bag from its place besides the couch and licked his fingers. “I’ll have more questions for you later, Maura,” he called as he dashed out the door.
Once he was once, I rolled onto the floor, hitting my head on the coffee table in the process. A groan escaped my lips as I nursed my head.
“This was some of the best cake I’ve had. Melly chose well,” Timmy remarked.
“I should have some of my own coming out cake,” I replied, sitting up and staring at the partially destroyed cake. “Looks delicious.”
Thank you for reading! I hope this has incited some thoughts about coming out. Again, this isn’t based on anyone’s coming out in reality; this is just a story. Any similar names are pure coincidence.
If you’ve come out, leave your story in the comments. I’d love to know! And if you want to just leave love and hope for those who are still in the closet or are out of the closet, that works too.