Fiction LGBTQ+

I count my steps as I walk up the stairs to the convention center, my parents on either side of me. Once inside we follow the signs to our designated conference room; the room where we will discuss my future, my career, my life. We arrived early per my request. I wanted a few moments to myself before the room filled with my agent and new coach. I glanced out the window. Birds glided past the window as I sat in the empty conference room waiting for the meeting to start.

This day was the day everything could change, I just have to survive this meeting, this conversation, this final decision. The folder lay on top of the table, my name scrawled across it in largely black, bold letters, it had my stats, my records, my proof. This is the moment, this conference room, this gathering, these people that would eventually fill every seat at the table, they will determine what happens to me before stepping out of this room. I take my extra time to ponder, wonder, curious and overanxious in my own mind.

Twenty years my parents and I have been working to get here, to this seat in front of a Major League Baseball contract, but something isn’t sitting right with me. Something hadn’t been sitting right with me for weeks. I’ve thought about when it started and why, and I realize it’s related to my favorite coach’s statement; a statement about one of his players recent engagement with another man.

It wasn’t unknown that the player, Toby, was in a serious relationship with someone of the same gender. It wasn’t discussed often, not like the straight men and their girlfriends who were frequently publicized, but it was publicly known. When the coach had first been questioned about how a gay player would impact the team, he had declined to answer. I hadn’t thought about why, but I remember feeling relieved. Now that I have thought about it more, I had initially assumed his silence was meant that the question was insulting and needn’t be asked. But now… Now that the coach has publicly denounced his gay player because of his love for another, I understand what his silence truly meant: disgust.

I’ve never met Toby nor his fiancé Yuan. To be honest, I’d never thought about Toby. Whenever my parents and I watch baseball, I always focus on the catcher, my position, and the pitcher. Toby was a center fielder, a position every so often out of sight of most broadcast. Most of what’s broadcasted consist of the pitcher, the catcher, the batter, and the umpire with glimpses of the coaches and team owner. That’s were my focus is, center of attention, not out in center field.

I’m not saying Toby is a bad ball player, not saying that at all. He has 28 homeruns and RBI of 102 as a major league player, better than my high school stats. What I really mean to say is he hasn’t done anything to draw attention to himself. He didn’t go around flaunting his homeruns or his celebrity status or even his relationships. He is a low-key type of person and I admire that. In fact, the more I think about this matter, the more I realize fame and attention isn’t want I want going into the major leagues. It was something I believed I wanted only last month. Now I realize, I just want to play ball as myself.

The signing pen is pushed in my general direction by my agent. I thank her as I pick it up and stare down at the contract. I hesitate. Why am I hesitating if that is all I want to do? Why am I thinking about Toby and Yuan? Why can’t I sign this contract?

I’d never thought about being gay much. The term wasn’t spoken at home, among friends, or even in school. I didn’t have any openly gay friends or family members or even gay teachers, which I assume explains why. I had felt motivated to do research when I had learned Toby was gay, not only because of my lack of knowledge, but also because I felt a deep desire to learn more. I’d never heard of most of the terms used to describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender, didn’t even known there was an acronym: LGBTQIA+; Lesbian, gay, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual and others such as non-binary and pansexual.

I began questioning my childhood after doing all this research. I only remember having conversations about boys and girls and attending boy/girl events. There was one boy/girl birthday party I remember attending when I was thirteen. We’d been playing truth or dare, and the questions were escalating. I can’t remember his last name, but I remember his first name was Taylor. He had chosen truth and the ultimate pre-teen question had been asked; who do you have a crush on?. Unlike most of the other pre-teens, he’d answered honestly. He had a crush on me, another boy. I remember laughing along with the other kids and him breaking down in tears. I never really thought about it again. Not until now. And I find myself scolding myself for being a jerk. And I find myself questioning my own preference, here in this seat right now, before an agent and coach, hesitating signing a major league contract.

A boy had had a crush on me in middle school. How did I feel about that? How do I feel about that? Have other boys had crushes on me? Are all my friends straight? If not, what’s holding them back from sharing with me? Do I come off as too comfortable in this society of toxic masculinity? Or is it simply fear, fear of rejection? I’d never reject them, especially now that I know more.

I feel my mother touch my arm. “Charlie, what’s wrong?”

I survey the group before me, blinking repeatedly as everyone smiles waiting, watching. What is wrong with me? Nothing is wrong with me. Nothing is wrong with Toby and Yuan. Nothing is wrong about discovering yourself, or about being yourself. What’s wrong is how the coach reacted to Toby’s announcement. How critics have reacted to all individuals different than ‘the norm’ for years. What’s wrong is I’ve been lying to myself ever since Taylor said he had a crush on me.

I shake my head in disgust while I think things through as I feel my father lean in close to me. “Too much pressure?”

“Yes and no. It’s not pressure of what’s on this contract. Not truly.”

“What pressure is it then, Charlie?”

I take a deep breath and let it go. I know what I want to do about this contract sitting centimeters from the pen in my hand. It may cost me this contract, but people must know how wrong they are. I must be true to myself.

I stand up and survey the room, questioning who to make eye contact with. My eyes meet the coach’s and I’m unable to look away. I open my mouth and I am unable to articulate my words. I force another deep breath and exhale. Fear is what holds me back, but spirit is what overpowers, and I find the words I want.

“In support of all LGBTQ players, let it be baseball, basketball, football, tennis, all… In support of them all, I protest this contract. Words were said regarding Toby and his fiancé, Yuan, when they announcement their engagement and I cannot in good conscience proceed with this contract knowing I may play for a coach or on a team that thinks these remarks are okay.”

I can’t see my parents, but I know them well enough to know my mother is sitting there with her jaw to the floor and my father is sitting with wide eyes, debating what to do; to intervene or not.

“In support of Toby and his fiancé, Yuan…”

I feel my mother tugging on my sleeve, and I see in the corner of my eye, my father standing up and reaching for me.

“As a bisexual man, I support Toby and Yuan.”

March 15, 2022 21:18

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Felice Noelle
22:35 Mar 23, 2022

Christian: I, too, am your supportive reader from the Critique Circle. Just one thought occurred to me: The first sentence or two or your second paragraph might have served as a more powerful hook at the beginning, get your reader in volved right away. Not everything needs to be in chronological sequence. I really enjoyed the story. In the fifth to last paragraph, check the word announcement, I think you meant announced. Just a little picky edit, but that's what I'm here for. Your story was an interesting slant on the prompt, and one...


Christian Arnold
16:30 Mar 24, 2022

Thank you for the feedback! The beginning is always tough and I often find myself with a better introduction somewhere later in my writing, so I'm not surprised you mentioned that. I'll take a look at that edit. Thanks again!


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John Hanna
22:08 Mar 23, 2022

Hi Christian, I drew your story from the critique circle. I like the circle because they send me a wide variety of superb stories. I have limited abilities, am no editor, but I do my best to find every error point it out! Heh! Because it is the purpose of the circle. I found the story to be very well crafted. The word choices varied and were appropriate, the flow built slowly and smoothly with building tension leading to a semi surprising ending. There was one minor error, less than I usually find. isn’t want I want Great work and I hop...


Christian Arnold
16:31 Mar 24, 2022

Thank you!


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