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I tried to assimilate, dating boys in high school, but my substantive interest in them was missing.

I wore Sophia’s beaded “Chelsea” bracelet under my sleeve in an act of defiance until the end of my senior year, when someone else stirred my heart. Shortly after our graduation, Andrew* and I sat eyeing each other tentatively on my bed.

She was a free-spirited California girl, I was a budding East Coast writer, and together we retreated into our shared love of ‘60s counterculture, handmade jewelry, and Meryl Streep.

“We’re not confused about who we are,” she clarifies, “but we’re confused about our place in the world.” Nearly fifteen years after first acknowledging these inclinations, I’m not at all confused about who I am or who I’m attracted to. I’m fortunate enough that most of my partners haven’t dismissed my sexuality.It wasn’t long before I fell asleep nightly to Sophia’s high, tinkling laugh.Letters arrived that I kept in a shoebox under my bed, sometimes containing beaded bracelets or mix CDs so that she could be with me always.Her honesty and activism earned her the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award earlier this month.“We’re all individuals,” she says, “and we all have our own stories.” In high school, I discovered Virginia Woolf.

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