I never wanted to run down the halls of my high school or scream at the top of my lungs. Once I was out of there I was pretty done. I graduated in 1996 from a 2,000 person high school in a suburb of San Francisco in the east bay. I like to say it could be any high school in any terrible generic suburb.
I didn’t maintain a lot of friendships, maybe ten folks total. And as the years wore on and I came out, moved to Philly and then NYC all the way across the country, class reunions were not a priority. At the time I thought going to class reunions was kind of a “normie” thing to do and I’m a queer drag performer.*
Surprising even myself, I moved with my then partner to Los Angeles and was within driving distance to my 20th reunion in 2016. One of my best friends from Brooklyn had moved to the redwood forest an hour from my hometown for an easy place to stay. We needed to go up for a visit to the Bay Area and we decided to just spend the money to go to a cocktail hour party on a Sunday at a country club in the East Bay. (Shout out to the classmate running the event for letting us pay early bird pricing later cuz we were on a budget juggling a lot of balls in the air. It’s always helpful to ask the organizers for wiggle room if price is a barrier!)
I was so grateful to have my then partner as a date and social buffer. She was excellent at parties and a very effective emotional support for me.
My favorite part of the party was meeting people fresh. I had the best connection with people I was only acquainted with in high school. I find if I can give people the benefit of assuming they will have changed and become more themselves in the years between me seeing them, I think it allows for a better and deeper connection.
I had fun and I was surprised! It felt too short because I didn’t even get to talk to as many folks as were there (maybe 150?). I also looked great in a cute black and white Calvin Klein dress I got second hand and have worn it so many places. It’s versatile! And I felt a little queer magic because I think I was the only queer alumna who brought a similar gender date. I like being a visual representation as a happy queer adult–I know I can do that single, too, and no matter who I date. But we were a cute couple.
I think anecdatally there are about 10 openly queer alumna from my year by now, hard to know for sure? But the coolest queer alumna from my high school is America’s Poli Sci Professor, Dr. Rachel Maddow, Class of ’92.
We never had a 25 year class reunion cuz it was 2021 and no one stepped up slash pandemique. During the height of the pandemique I was sending messages to my Facebook dot com friends to ask if folks wanted a Zoom catch up. I was connecting with folks I hadn’t talked to in a decade or two! I almost got my yearbook out and started looking folks up just to see who is out there! I love a friendly conversation.
If you’re thinking about going to a reunion and you’re nervous about going, I suggest doing it! Everyone else is nervous! Bravado and confidence are often masks!
If you don’t want anything to do with your high school I support that! Don’t do anything you don’t want to do and don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do! Time is precious, hang out with people who support your best joyful unfolding!
If you dropped out of high school I kind of wish I had! In some alternate universe I became a hair dresser and fat aerobics instructor focused on giving my unique gifts to the world in late 90s San Francisco. Instead I did what everyone told me I should do and shuffled off to college and law school and didn’t find success or career stability! Just crippling debt, mental and physical health challenges (relieved by becoming a fat aerobics instructor).
Regardless, consider finding pals you haven’t talked to in a decade or two and reach out a friendly hand. You never know who might need a ten or twenty minute connection with someone to remind them that life is out there and people care.
Another highlight of the reunion was seeing a cheerleading uniform. It reminded me how much I wanted to be a cheerleader when I was in high school! (I didn’t try out because of money barriers and self-imposed limiting beliefs about what a fat girl got to do. Shout out to all the fat cheerleaders nowadays!) Not the kind who gets thrown in the air, the kind who rhymes and claps and cheers!
As a witchy woo woo gal now, it only just occurred to me that my high school colors green & gold are the HEART CHAKRA which would have been extra cute to cheer in.
*The world is different and more integrated now in 2023 in ways I never expected, thanks to cultural trailblazers like RuPaul’s Drag Race. And this was 2016!
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