The Big Gay Note by Cody Wagner

May first crush was on my eighth grade gym teacher. To protect the innocent, we’ll call him Coach Hottie. Coach Hottie was gruff and demanding and every gay eighth grade boy’s dream.

Despite the 35-year age gap, and the fact that I was only 13, which made the possibility of a relationship very very illegal, my teenage naiveté convinced me there was absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of our being a couple. In fact, I imagined us holding hands down the halls of Pampa Middle School, everyone eying us jealously. I even imagined wearing matching coach shorts to show my dedication as we strutted around. Sure, the entire school was homophobic, but my mind concocted amazing stories of love and acceptance. And they all hinged on a relationship with Coach Hottie.

And so I pursued him.

I found every reason to stay after gym class and offer to help with his paperwork (although I had no idea what he actually did). I volunteered to skip dodge ball to clean equipment racks for him. I even offered to wash his clothes in case his “washing machine ever broke, or, you know, whatever.”

The big problem – besides the aforementioned illegalness (OK I thought I made up a new word but ‘illegalness’ isn’t being corrected.) – was the fact Coach Hottie was very straight. And he acted like I barely existed. Therefore, my interest in him started to waver a bit over the course of a year.

Then came the Towel Incident ™.

Eighth grade gym was the only year I was ever forced to shower. After every class, we had to strip down and rinse off. Eighth graders are disgusting, so it was the school’s way of cleaning us up after we hit each other in the face with big red balls for an hour. The problem was, the idea of getting naked in front of my peers terrified me. After all, I was gay and, um, my hormones were raging.

Consequently, I was always the last student to get naked. I’d strip down, throw a towel around my waist, and go stand near the showers. But I wouldn’t bare all and shower yet. No, I had to stand there, convincing myself everything would remain calm and I wouldn’t get beaten up.

One day, as I stood there talking myself down, I heard, “Wagner, take off your towel and shower!”

It was Coach Hottie.

Immediately, my face flushed and my entire body tingled. Sure, he was just frustrated and trying to end the class. But my juvenile mind interpreted the Towel Incident very differently. My first and only thought was, He wants to see me naked!

And thus my crush was kicked into overdrive.

That night, I decided I had to come clean (pardon the pun). Trembling, I sat down and wrote a love note to Coach Hottie. I wrote that I was gay. And for the first time, I poured my feelings out. The note was long, emotional and perfect.

I sat back and stared at my masterpiece. Grinning, I grabbed an envelope and carefully wrote “To: Coach Hottie”. I debated drawing little hearts on it, but decided to let the note speak for itself.

After folding and sliding the paper inside, I sat back imagining Coach Hottie’s response. He’d be skeptical opening the note. He might even tell me he didn’t have time. After reading a few sentences, though, his expression would change. A tear would probably fall from his left eye. He’d drop the note and say, “How did you know?” I’d just smile and shrug as we leaned in for our first kiss.

Hugging the note, I placed it on my desk before bed. Then I tucked myself in, imagining the joy the following day would bring.

Thank God rational thought hit me in the middle of the night.

I don’t know what did it, but I shot up at 3:00AM thinking, What in the hell am I doing? It was the first sensible thing I’d thought in years. Part of me thinks a future version of myself sent eighth grade Cody a dream message. Either way, I hopped out of bed and tore up the note before I could stop myself.

For some reason, the insanity of what I’d done eased my crush on Coach Hottie. And something else began building up in my head. Despite the fact I never gave Coach Hottie the note, it was still the first time I’d ever written I was gay. That stuck!. Putting the words on paper actually made it real.

After that night, I really began to realize who and what I was.

It stuck with me so intensely that, when I wrote my novel, The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, I knew I had to include that scene. In the book, my main character doesn’t write a love note. Instead, he writes that he’s gay out of pure frustration. Instead of tearing the note up, it ends up outing him.

The note solidified who I was, so I figured I’d let it kick start my character’s life. Only, because it’s fiction and I could let my imagination run wild, I did so in a way where the note would take him somewhere he’d never imagine or expect. I hope he thanks me for it when he’s all said and done.

Who knows, maybe he can write me a little note.
About the Author
Cody Wagner loves to sing, mime (not really), and create. He writes about topics ranging from superpowers to literate trees (really). His award-winning debut novel, The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, recently “came out”. See what he did there? Cody dealt with bullying as a teen and wanted to provide a fun escape for all the underdogs out there. He’s also handing out cookie dough to everyone who grabs a copy. Check out his writing and see more of his wackiness at or find him on Twitter @cfjwagner, Goodreads at, and Amazon at

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9 thoughts on “The Big Gay Note by Cody Wagner

  1. Kenneth Weene

    Gay or straight, one of the most poignant of all experiences can be that first crush, usually on somebody a bit older, often a teacher. Mine was a teacher in middle school, which back then was junior high, but there was also this girl in my classes. I loved them both and planned a career in bigamy. Of course, like Cody, I never told either.

  2. Trish

    Cody, I found this really interesting, as although I have gay friends, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to gain the confidence to come out. I’m sure your writing will help others a lot.

  3. Monica Brinkman

    Thank you for such a personal insight into not only ‘crushes’ but what must have been a difficult part of your life, I applaud your willingness to open up on how it was to be gay and in school and have a crush on a straight male.
    Think we have all had a crush on a teacher at some point, so this story hits home to many.

  4. Cody Wagner

    Thanks so much, everyone! I was hoping the story would be relatable as we’ve all had that crush we were sure was reciprocated 🙂 That was the first of many for me. Soooooo many embarrassing stories, LOL 🙂

  5. Micki Peluso

    Very enlightening, Toby. imagine if that happened in today’s even more homophobic world in some ways. Especially in schools with straight teachers hitting on students. Your story proves that writing down our feelings on any matter can make a big difference in our actions. I had a close relative years ago that took my girlfriend and me out with his friends to a gay bar. I was comfortable with gay men but when a gay woman hit on me it was a new experience and I had no idea how to handle it. My relative and his friends found it hysterically funny. Back then, me, not so much:).

  6. John B. Rosenman

    Cody, this is a moving coming-of-age story. I agree with Micki that this “memoir” demonstrates that writing something down can have a strong influence on your writing. In this case it generated fiction and contributed to your career. Your account took me back to Junior High again (whoops, I mean Middle School.) It also reminded me of a young woman, a student, who had a crush on me, her teacher, when I was in my sixties.

    A reader does not have to be gay to be moved by this powerful experience. For many of us, adolescence is not easy. We’re trying to find our identities and define our natures, and it’s all the more difficult if we don’t fit in and perhaps never will.

  7. Delinda Mccann

    Well done. My lesbian cousin was more like a sister to me than a cousin. I remember her agonized crushes on teachers. I think crushes were much harder for her than for me.


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