IN MY SKIN BRITTNEY GRINER PDF

We may earn money from links on this page, but we only recommend products we love. And even after she vowed to stop pretending, it took her a while to feel comfortable in her skin. My dad was usually at work, sometimes taking extra shifts on nights or weekends, and my mom was good about leaving me alone, not hovering over me. When I knew I had a chunk of time to myself, I would go to the living room and hop on the computer. I still remember the password, or at least most of it: "Morgue" and then a few numbers.

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We may earn money from links on this page, but we only recommend products we love. And even after she vowed to stop pretending, it took her a while to feel comfortable in her skin. My dad was usually at work, sometimes taking extra shifts on nights or weekends, and my mom was good about leaving me alone, not hovering over me. When I knew I had a chunk of time to myself, I would go to the living room and hop on the computer. I still remember the password, or at least most of it: "Morgue" and then a few numbers.

I would load the Yahoo search page, type in the words gay and lesbian, or some combination of the two, then read articles and watch documentaries for hours.

Kids tossed those words around a lot at school, along with fag and dyke and other slurs, sometimes hurling them as insults at specific targets, like me, and other times casually dropping them into conversation the same way they might use the word loser — with friends saying to each other, "That is so gay. I just knew that when I heard them, I felt something inside me, a curiosity that made me want to learn more. I would immediately clear my search history and log off the computer.

I knew, from the first afternoon I spent reading about the LGBT community, I was reading about myself, that there were many other people out there like me. I was not alone, and the knowledge of that soothed some of my pain.

I just did whatever felt natural, without giving it much thought. And when I got on that eMachine, I discovered a whole world of people who felt the same way I did, who lived somewhere in the middle. I learned there are women who identify as "stud" or "butch" lesbians, which generally means they see themselves as occupying a more traditionally masculine role, both in society and in their relationships.

Much of how I was feeling internally could be displayed outwardly by my clothes, my gestures, my attitude. I remember sitting at the computer and letting out a long sigh of relief, because I knew someday I would be able to become a complete person, with who I am on the inside matching how I expressed myself on the outside. When I was in middle school, the control that my dad had over my life was ironclad. I knew there was zero chance he would accept me as gay, or let me leave the house dressed in a style that he would see as completely ridiculous.

I knew he would and he later did say that my sexuality and appearance were a result of being influenced by others. I was already getting picked on for being different, for looking like a boy, for having a low voice, so it was hard to imagine myself doing anything to announce that I was even more different than everyone else already thought.

Also, around this time, another girl in seventh grade had come out as a lesbian, or someone had outed her, and the kids were merciless. So I kept all this knowledge — the truth — to myself. Kids at school were rejecting me, and in turn I was rejecting my true self, trying different versions of me on for size, to see what I could make fit. It was like each day was an exercise in erasing myself just a little bit more.

It was the first day of volleyball tryouts in seventh grade we were living back in Houston , and a bunch of us girls were sitting in the bleachers, waiting for the coach. I kept tugging at my outfit, trying to stretch it out. We had to wear these little form-fitting shirts, cropped in a way that they showed our stomachs if we lifted our arms in the air, which was obviously something we did a lot while playing volleyball.

And the shorts were so tiny, they felt like glorified underwear. I was sitting next to my friend Ashton, who lived in the same neighborhood as me. My arms and legs were mostly bare, and I kept rearranging myself because I felt so exposed, so uncomfortable. Sitting in the row in front of us was this girl named Kim, who was part of the in-crowd. She was with her friends, and they were whispering.

All of a sudden I realized what had happened, and I started panicking. I said, "Wait, wait — what? What did you ask me? We were just asking. A minute later, I moved back to my row.

But I eventually realized that faking it is draining, and that the more people who raise their hands and say, "This is me," the more they help empower other people to do the same. I decided that at the start of my freshman year of high school, I would stop pretending. I highlighted this date the way many kids point to college as their chance to reinvent themselves. I saw high school as a step into adulthood, when my dad would have less control over me, and I wanted to take that step forward as my true, authentic self.

So when ninth grade rolled around, I was ready for it in more ways than one. I started dressing and acting exactly how I wanted to — even if I cringe a little now when I think about how over the top I was in going about it.

I was just copying certain looks I saw on other people, clothes and images that resonated as similar to the "me" I wanted to express. Over the next several years, my style would morph from "rapper boy" to "athletic" to "preppy" to where I am now, a mesh of all those things, a combination that feels right to me. But my first step was to stop wearing ambiguous clothing, those shirts and jeans that still had even a slightly "girly" edge.

I felt like an imposter in those clothes. So the first style I truly embraced was loosely defined: all that mattered was feeling comfortable. My go-to outfit was an oversized T-shirt or hoodie with a pair of baggy RocaWear jeans. I was all over the place. The "California swag" was strong back then, the Jerky Boy look.

So I wore the flannel shirts with colorful skinny jeans and a pair of Vans. I also liked to cut the sleeves off my shirts and throw on some shorts or sweats — my "athletic and lazy" look. The less clothing, the better. My senior year at Baylor, and especially my rookie year in the WNBA, is when I started paying closer attention to fashion and how I wanted to represent myself away from the court.

After trying different styles over the years, I finally realized I could blend them together to create a look unique to me, putting my own spin on the trends. And a key part of my style now has nothing to do with clothes. I understand there are people out there who are put off by tattoos.

There are many different ways to express yourself; it just so happens a lot of people enjoy doing that with tats. My first week of ninth grade, I saw that girl Kim in the hallway, the one who had asked me if I was gay when we were in seventh grade. She looked me up and down — I was wearing a big hoodie, sagging my jeans — and said, "Oh, okay.

So standing there in the hallway, I just looked her in the eyes and said, "Yeah, you know, shit happens. Then I shrugged and kept walking. I laugh when I think about it now, because "shit happens" sounds like a terrible way to acknowledge your sexual identity. But I was actually feeling pretty good about myself.

It was obvious by the way I was dressing that I was trying to make a statement. And when kids asked me if I was gay, I would say, "Yup. It just became common knowledge. The fact that I was six feet tall by then and playing volleyball helped me avoid some of the name-calling I had endured in middle school. Not all of it — sometimes when I walked into the gym, guys would say stuff like, "Yo, you can untuck now!

And the more my self-confidence grew, the less I worried about what other people were saying. It was a big, long process, and I had my share of missteps and detours.

But telling my mother felt like a necessity, an instinctive urge to share my truth, because I trusted her so much, and I think I knew, deep down, I would need her love and support for the journey ahead. So one afternoon during my freshman year, I came right out and told her. She smiled, hugged me, and told me she loved me.

That was it. And believe me, I still had a lot to figure out. I remember walking down the hallways at school, with my jeans sagging, my boxer shorts showing, using really hard-core hand gestures, my voice all rough and edgy.

But when I came home from school, and I was walking those final steps before I got to the back door of our house, I would yank up my jeans and tighten my belt, reminding myself to tone down my mannerisms. Being true to myself has often been at odds with my desire to please others. And accepting this truth has given me a new level of comfort and freedom.

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Brittney Griner

Published by itbooks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers and reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. I could see my classmates were finding their place in the social structure, but I felt adrift, alone, scrambling to figure it all out. My dad wanted me to live inside a glass box, tucked safely away inside our house, exposed to nothing, including the typical interactions kids need. I rebelled by acting like a fool at school, desperate for attention. And as the months passed, I realized I was different from other kids in more ways than one.

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