×
Grades 10–11
Memoir
Writing

My Name Is…Undecided

by Terra C., Grades 10-11, 826NYC
A student recalls their journey on how they discovered their LGBTQIA+ identity.

Poly: many, several, much. Binary: relating to, composed of, or involving two things. Pan-

sexual: attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender.

 

It was always said that I was a little excessive. I’ve occasionally been referred to as a com-

poser of songs or poems. When I was really, really little and innocent, I was attracted

platonically to many people, ever since I was in 4th grade, in Leadership Prep Ocean Hill.

I’m not sure why I said that because neither the story’s setting nor time are right now. This

began in the seventh grade, during the COVID-19 school lockdown, at Achievement First

Aspire. So let’s start with this.

 

Hello. My name is undecided. My name is a mound of clay, an abandoned ice cream cone

in the relentless sun. This wasn’t always the case. It was the summer of 2020. TikTok was

a viral thing brought to my attention because of a school challenge I didn’t end up doing.

But my mother allowed me to keep it.

 

I used it for anime and ASMR slime videos instead of school, occasionally posting my own

content. I also used it to determine my wedding dress type based on my zodiac sign and

song covers. I enjoy singing, listening to others sing, and all types of music. What’s my point

here? A song is what turned TERRA into an ice cream left in the ever-burning sun.

 

This song, can’t remember the name, was about being addicted to a boy. But it was sung

by a boy. OK. It was interesting so I clicked on the sound. I saw so many colors in so many

combinations on many sheets of fabric.

 

The young man was playing the guitar and singing while his eyes were closed. In addition

to looking stunning, he also had a playful appearance. To me, his beauty stemmed from

this. Then I scrolled down until someone else caught my eye. A girl. Duetting with the boy

while singing the same song was a very attractive girl. Only one thing was different. Instead

of “boy,” she sang “girl.” OK.

 

I put on my headphones so I could turn up the volume and play the lovely melody repeat-

edly until I felt it was time to move on while still grinning from this experience. The video

right below it was the breaking point for me, and it’s a pretty stupid one.

 

I sleep on a pull-out bed under the couch. Every time I take it out, there is always some kind

of crumb. I always dust it off but when I wake up, there is always something else.

The next TikTok was about what it meant if your bed had crumbs to no end. The caption,

more or less said, “You know you’re a bisexual if you have crumbs in your bed.” …Oh.

Yeah. I scrolled back to the duet, turned up the music, and actually looked at the video,

more so the girl. Lo and behold, the caption said “this here for the lesbian sisters” and the

hashtags sad #lgbtqia, #bipride, and #pridemonth.

 

OK! This must be a sign. Now that I was truly interested in it, I clicked the first hashtag and

began receiving messages from informants, activists, comedians, artists, and live streams.

For months, I couldn’t stop watching! I came out as bisexual in the first three months since

March 2021 on my account and with friends who asked. Then, just in time for my first

Pride Month, I learned about non-binary and pansexual.

 

Non-binary was a life changer. The idea resonated with me because I was tired of always

being a girl and didn’t quite feel like a boy either.

 

If being pansexual was a new aspect of my identity, discovering that I could also be poly-

sexual came next. When I arrived at this school, both GSA and my friends were a big help.

I began to rant, reflect, and write poems. Making some art for art class, discrete in my

interest and questions. And the questions keep on coming. And I’m hoping that eventually

the questions will be able to shape the lump of clay that is my identity and who I am.

 

 

 

See more Lessons from Educator Leaders

Grade 10
Writing
Managing to Find Joy

by Luciana, Grade 10, 826 MSP

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a sophomore at South High School in Minneapolis gives thanks to Children’s Hospital employees.

Grades 8–10
Writing
David & Daniel

by David & Daniel, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

In this heartfelt exchange of letters, two students bond over food, videos games, and some scary adventures.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Wrong Black Boy

by Oriel, 826NYC

Poetry

In this poem, an echoing question strikes a chord and reveals the tragic loss held within systemic injustice.

Grades 7–12
Writing
My Family Interview

by Johnny Vasquez, 826 MSP

Narrative

A family interview reveals a mother's painful past and shines a light on her persistence.

Grade 10
Writing
All Humans Are Equal: A Call for Immigration Reform

by Cindy, 826LA

Informational
Persuasive

A student compellingly argues that immigrants deserve respect and to be free of discrimination.

Grades 9–12
Writing
The Achilles Heel

by Salma Khalif, 826 MSP

Poetry

A powerful poem that lifts up Black women.

Grade 11
Writing
Finding Myself in Desire and History

by Raheem, 826 New Orleans

Narrative

A student compares themself to the place they live, New Orleans, as both evolve through great obstacles.

Grade 10
Writing
I Write

by Sabrin, 826 MSP

Poetry

The written word is a powerful tool, and this poem shares a few reasons why the author continues to write.

Grade 11
Writing
I Cannot Be Defined

by Alexis G., Grade 11

Narrative

In this narrative, the author uses vibrant language to explore their identity, in all its complexity, through different landscapes.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Henry & Matthew & Santiago

by Henry, Matthew, & Santiago, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

A compilation of letters written by three students across one city filled with thoughts on books, sports, music, family, and musings on Valentine’s Day.

Grade 11
Writing
Eternal Youth

by Junaynah R., Grade 11, 826NYC

Poetry

Full of exquisite imagery, this poem explores the idea of second chances.

Grades 11–12
Writing
The Great Assimilation

by Kayla Wayne, Grade 11, 826NYC

Poetry

In this poem, a student reflects on their first encounter with forced assimilation.

Grades 11–12
Writing
I Took My First Steps…

by Maria, Grade 12, 826 Boston

Narrative
Persuasive

In this public narrative, a student makes the case for creating community change by building youth centers in her neighborhood.

Grades 9–11
Writing
Gift of Love

by Samuel Wang, Grade 10, 826NYC

Poetry

A poem about the complexity of love exchanged during the holidays.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Bryanna & Kayla

by Byanna & Kayla, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

Two students across one city bond by writing letters to each other about the people they love most.

Grades 9–12
Writing
A Glitch in the System

by Soraya, 826NYC

Poetry

This student’s powerful piece reveals the essence of racial injustice.

Grade 11
Writing
History and Me

by Corazón, 826 New Orleans

Narrative

In this essay, a student threads their identity across cultures, histories, and places, engaging with legacies of violence and the movement of people.

Grades 10–12
Writing
I’m Not Home But I Am

by Sally Phan, 826 Boston

Memoir
Narrative

A memoir that questions the idea of home and how it changes with time.

Grade 11
Writing
We are not alone

by Jeremy Hsiao, 826 National

Poetry

From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem reminds activists that "to change everything, we need everyone."

Grade 10
Writing
I Will Be a Lifesaver

by Yazmine-Gizelle, 826DC

Poetry

This poem uses a fundamental poetry technique, repetition, to share the writer's future plans.

Grades 11–12
Writing
My Uncle Nilton…

by Ryan, Grade 12, 826 Boston

Narrative
Persuasive

In this public narrative, a student illustrates the hardships his uncle has faced to argue for a path to citizenship.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Technology Gives Me a Way In

by Jonas K., 826 National

Narrative
Persuasive

A student explores the paradox of how technology is used amongst teenagers.

Grades 9–10
Writing
An Indescribable Place

by Samantha Wint, Grade 9, 826 Valencia

Poetry

This poem uses metaphors and similes to explore many dualities of the narrator's life.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Dandelion

by Elizabeth W, 826 Valencia

Poetry

Even though we may look different, we remain united with one another.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Retrospect

by Kevin G, 826 Valencia

Narrative

This narrative calls us to see the world through the perspectives of others.

Grades 9–12
Writing
What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

by Ryker, 826michigan

Informational
Narrative

Liner notes that showcase the meaning and musicality of the Jimmy Ruffin song “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.”

Grades 8–12
Writing
A Challenge

by Shayne Williams

Narrative

Discover what one student experiences when they tuck their phone away for a whole day.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Stupid Blue Screen

by Vanessa Ramon-Ibarra, 826DC

Narrative
Poetry

Living in the digital world can create unwanted attachments, as one student laments.

Grades 10–11
Writing
When Mean Girls Attack

by Tammy Fong, 826NYC

Memoir
Narrative

A soccer-filled, feud-fueled memoir.

Grades 10–11
Writing
Sunny Smiles

by Sergio M, 826 Valencia

Narrative
Poetry

This piece reminds us that a smile is not always what it seems.

Grade 10
Writing
Black Power

by Anthony, 826DC

Poetry

This poem gives insight to what it's like growing up Black in America.

Grade 10
Writing
I Can Only Imagine

by Tala, Grade 10, 826 MSP

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, 10th grader Tala asks essential workers what motivates them to keep going during these difficult times, offering her own views on hope for the future.

Grade 10
Writing
She, He, Them

by Savannah, 826NYC

Narrative
Poetry

Using dialogue and detailed description, this poet investigates whose voices are heard and whose voices are left behind when injustice occurs.

Grades 10–12
Writing
LECCIONES

by Melody Marcano, 826 Boston

Poetry

In this poem, a student reflects on their roots and their desire to grow.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Thoughts Onto Paper

by Pretty S, 826 Valencia

Memoir
Narrative

Peek into the mind of a student who considers artistic influences in her life.

Grades 10–11
Writing
Bigger Than You Think

by Sharoya Bracey, 826NYC

Memoir
Narrative

In this memoir, the narrator recounts the struggle of being the bigger person in a very small space.

Grades 10–11
Writing
In Between

by Joanne H, 826 Valencia

Poetry

In this poem, a student’s experiences in two countries meld together as she seeks out her true home.

Grade 11
Writing
America’s Hatred

by Quardasha Mitchell, The 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

In this compelling poem, the author navigates her relationship with America as a young African-American woman.

Grades 11–12
Writing
The Woods

by Jesus Sanchez, The 826 Dallas Project

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

This creative short horror piece explores the mysteries and danger of a night in the woods.

Grade 10
Writing
Check, Please!, Drop-Out, and Happy Endings

by Aphra, 826CHI

Informational
Media
Persuasive

A student considers realistic happy endings and the representation of LGBTQIA+ youth through the analysis of two webcomics.

Grades 10–11
Writing
Excerpt from “My Street”

by Justis Porter, age 16, 826 Boston

Poetry

A neighborhood ode filled with sights and sounds of the poet's street.

Grade 11
Writing
Harmony’s Canvas: A Vision of Love’s Eternal Light

by Elsy M.E., Grade 11, 826 Valencia

Poetry

A poet imagines a better and more harmonious world.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Home Away From Home

by Jennifer Alcocer, The 826 Dallas Project

Narrative

This personal narrative addresses the struggles of students graduating high school during the pandemic.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Dancing in This Hurricane

by Earl Williams Jr., The 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

A powerful poetic piece about the experience of being Black in America.

Grade 10
Writing
Are You White?

by Isabella, 826NYC

Poetry

This poet rejects judgement based on the color of one’s skin.

Grade 10
Writing
The Heart of a Dominican / El Corazón de un Dominicano

by Raymond A., Grade 10, 826 Boston

Poetry

A bilingual poem that expresses the love of one's culture and people

Grades 9–12
Writing
Giving Shelter

by Steysi Hailee, 826LA

Narrative

A student reflects on a small moment and single sacrifice that transformed her outlook on giving.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Christopher & Bryan & Jahir

by Christopher, Bryan, & Jahir, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

In an exchange of letters, three students across one city share stories about where they came from and the places that matter most.

Grades 11–12
Writing
I’m Here to Stay

by Leydi Di Villanueva, The 826 Dallas Project

Narrative

This creative narrative imagines how the coronavirus views humanity during the pandemic.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Dang, Crawfish

by Jordan, 826 New Orleans

Poetry

Crawfish, crayfish, or mudbugs. Whatever you call them, the writer of this poem doesn't like them.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Boston’s Chinatown is my home, but it is in a crisis.

by Sarah X. Age 18, 826Boston

Memoir

A rousing public narrative from an author coming to terms with their identity as a young Chinese American woman and what they represent: the community of Boston's Chinatown.

Grades 11–12
Writing
De Werito A Prieto

by Katya Torres, The 826 Dallas Project

Narrative
Poetry

This bilingual poem explores the harrowing story of a boy working while in school to save his mother.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Beat of the Drum

by Aniah, 826 MSP

Poetry

A student is lifted up by the dance of her ancestors.

Grades 11–12
Writing
The Confined Peacock

Kenya G., 17, 826LA

Poetry

A poet relates her experience as a queer woman in the closet to a peacock in the zoo.

Grade 10
Writing
Terror: A poem to the next president about being trans in this society

Alex P., Grade 10, 826 National

Persuasive
Poetry

A poem to the next president of the U.S. demanding change and advocating for transgender rights.

Grades 8–12
Writing
It Might Not Always Disappear

by Sian Laing

Narrative

When Instagram becomes an unsightly battlefield.

Grade 10
Writing
Six Poems in Search of My Border

by Jasmine J, 826 Valencia

Poetry

A student reflects on her origins to deconstruct social borders and seize her boundless future.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Haunting Picture

by Jazlyn Moses, 826 National

Narrative
Persuasive

One student explores their online persona and the lasting importance of conscientious social media practices.

Grade 11
Writing
These Walls

by Augustus Griffith Jr., 826 National

Poetry

From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem explores the aftermath and lasting impacts of school shootings.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Racial Autobiography

by Bianca Morcho, 826 MSP

Memoir
Narrative

A personal essay that explores the different shades of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Where I’m From

by Charles, 826 MSP

Poetry

A student reflects on his life, stemming from the life of his father.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Where I’m From

by Michaiah Anderson, The 826 Dallas Project

Memoir
Narrative

In this personal narrative, a student describes their family origins with an intimate point of view

Grade 11
Writing
My Black

by Keyshana, Grade 11, 826CHI

Poetry

Black strength, beauty, and pride soar in this poem as a student discusses overcoming brutality and discrimination.

Grades 9–12
Writing
This Is Me

by Lucas Hu, 826 Boston

Poetry

A poem about staying true to yourself during a challenging transition

Grades 11–12
Writing
Alemeny

by Izzy T., 826 Valencia

Narrative

A student reflects on memories of home and what binds her special community together.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Reuben & Giselle

by Reuben & Giselle, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

Two students write to each other about where they came from, what they love, and a few mishaps along the way in an exchange of letters.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Nothing New to Us

by Julianna Cruz, 826 Dallas Project

Informational
Narrative

This narrative piece contemplates the struggle of immigrants during the pandemic.

Grades 10–11
Writing
Me

by Numan Khan, age 16, 826 Boston

Poetry

A bilingual "I am" poem filled with conviction and courage.

Grades 10–12
Writing
she, he, them

by Jahruwach Hamilton, 826NYC

Poetry

In this rousing poem, a student asserts her strength and worth as a woman.

Grades 9–10
Writing
The Rez Girls Are Powerful!

by Navayah, 826 MSP

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

Through redefining a label, a student reclaims a piece of their identity.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Matricide: Addressing Climate Change

by Maggie Munday Odom, Kailua, HI

Poetry

This poem personifies Earth as a mother coping with the brutalities of climate change.

Grades 10–12
Writing
Generations

by Jizelle Villegas, Grade 12, 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

The stunning and vulnerable poem processes feelings of loss, grief, and hope for the future.

Grade 10
Writing
What Is Freedom?

by Regina, 826LA

Poetry

From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem expresses the realization that a cage is not the only obstacle to a bird's freedom.

Grade 11
Writing
Where I Am From

by Rockelle Rodd, Grade 11, 826NYC

Poetry

This poem uses analogies to describe all of the pieces of the writer's personal history.

Grade 11
Writing
Who I’ll Always Be

by Riti Shrestha, 826NYC

Poetry

In this poem, metaphor is used to describe who the narrator is.