When Holtzmann was younger, she realized her interests were very different from the other kids she went to school with. They wanted to play tag on the playground and she wanted to take apart and rebuild the computers in the library.
Fortunately for her, she was able to convince the librarian to let her play with the circuit board in one of the older computers that was no longer being used. At recess, while the other kids were outside, that was exactly what she did. It gave Holtzmann a small comfort to know someone supported her interest in technology.
Holtzmann thought it was her passion for science and technology that set her apart, but at 15, she began to develop intense feelings for her female classmates. While the girls her age babbled on about the boys, she would silently watch from afar, confused as to why she had yet to share these same attractions to the opposite sex.
It took her a while, but Holtzmann learned to accept that the feelings she had for girls were akin to the feelings her female classmates had for the boys. She had an internal battle with herself on whether or not the feelings would go away, until she could no longer pretend they were part of a phase.
She told her parents about the feelings she had for other girls. Unfortunately for Holtzmann, it did not go as she had hoped.
For a while, her parents acted as if the conversation had never happened, claiming it was a phase she was going through and that with time, she would “be normal” like the other girls. She just needed to wait; she would find the right boy.
Holtzmann cringed at the idea of being normal, to blend in with the crowd. Normal seemed so tedious and uninteresting. Holtzmann did not want to be forgotten. She wanted to be a part of something important that would make a difference in other people’s lives.
Holtzmann’s father passed away shortly after she had disclosed her sexuality to her parents. Her father’s death left Holtzmann’s mother to care for her as a single parent.
Her mother could barely tolerate her “incessant fascination” with science, let alone her feelings for girls. She attempted to persuade Holtzmann to focus on more feminine activities, such as horseback riding or gymnastics, but Holtzmann wanted to try out for chess club and the football team (neither of which would accept her).
Holtzmann came home from school one day to find her mother waiting for her with a psychiatrist.
Holtzmann eyed the psychiatrist with caution and slowly backed up towards the front door.
“He’s here to help you, Jillian,” her mother said, with venom in her voice at her daughter’s resistance.
Holtzmann’s bike quickly carried her along the dimly lit street.
She raced from block to block, with no particular destination in mind, silently cursing herself for getting caught, especially by her favourite teacher, Professor Gorin.
For the past few weeks, 17 year old Jillian Holtzmann had been sleeping in her high school at night. She was lucky that the weather had been fairly warm for October, but she was concerned about how she was going to fare during the colder, winter months.