Before the 2nd Kiss - Part 2

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I sat on the lounge couch, jittery as I waited my turn to introduce myself. I'd arrived late after trying to convince the indecisive Tobiath to join me. He had not come with me to the booth at the club fair, but he seemed to waver about tagging along to the first meeting. In the end, he backed out when we were halfway there, running back to the dorm.

I'd arrived in time for introductions, but would be the last one to speak. There were all sorts of people: cis, trans, non-binary, gay, straight, bi, pan...

I looked over to the girl beside me as it became her turn to speak. "I'm Sasha," she said, twisting a strand of her long, black curls with a dark brown finger topped with an amazing manicure. "Pronouns she/her. I'm in my first year. And I'm... trans."

Finally, it was my turn. I smiled, trying to look friendly."I'm Alex. I'm also a first year. And I'm gay." I couldn't help but beam as I said the last sentence. It was the first time the words had ever come out of my mouth, and I was nervous yet proud to say them.

"Awesome!" Bradley, the president, exclaimed with a charming smile. "It's great to meet everyone."

Honestly, he looked like a K-pop idol. Every time he spoke, Malcolm's words before graduation echoed in my head as if it was Bradley's intro song: "I heard the Asian boys in Toronto are fiiiine."

"Now, it's time for the real fun."

"An orgy?" I heard someone jokingly whisper and looked over. I couldn't remember his name, but he was the only other guy who'd said he was gay. There were some other guys who were probably gay but didn't disclose their orientation. This guy was wearing neon pink pants and his blonde hair was perfectly coiffed. I didn't want to judge but based on his "joke" and appearance, I had a feeling we really wouldn't get along. So much for making openly gay friends here.

The games we played were fun despite everyone's awkwardness. First meetings are always awkward anyway, but for a lot of us, this was also our first time being openly LGBT+. I soon realized that, while gay guy friends like Malcolm had been great, I could feel a connection to just about everyone who was there, no matter their identity on the spectrum. I exchanged numbers with some people and went back to the dorms, feeling excited.

"You really missed out, Tobiath!" I collapsed onto my bed and turned my head to see Tobiath was very much into his game of Minecraft. "Are you really okay with not going? Everyone's very accepting."

Tobiath was quiet for a moment before he mumbled, "I don't... That stuff isn't important to me. I just want to make friends who like Minecraft."

I nodded, guessing not everyone needed the heavens to part and a giant label of sexuality to descend on their heads. 

***

Initially, the club was large and busy. We all became friends, waving to each other around campus and the dorms, and sitting together at lunch. As the year went on, though, the students that came to meetings began to dwindle until we were left with just a handful of people. The silver lining was that those of us who did show up were able to build a tighter friendship. 

I became closest with Sasha. Maybe Sasha and I gravitated towards each other because, in addition to being black, she was half-Latina and we had a cultural connection. Plus, we were both in our first year. Sasha was so sweet, but she didn't take any crap. When we went out in the city and some asshole deliberately misgendered her, she misgendered him right back.

Another regular member that became my pal was Rashaad. At the first club meeting, I remember Rashaad had only said they were non-binary. It wasn't until we had an intimate conversation while hanging out that they admitted they were also asexual. "I don't feel like it's as big a part of my identity as being enby is," they explained, shrugging. "So the only people I ever mention it to are potential partners." They were so laid-back to the point where I sometimes couldn't tell if they were being aloof or were bothered. Nine times out of ten, it turned out Rashaad was just fine. It was just their personality. Even when they were often misgendered by strangers, they shrugged it off.

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