Many others in the BHS community are members of the LGBTQ community, as well. And a couple of years ago I wrote an anonymous article for this very paper about the struggles and hardships that so many in the LGBT community faced. At the time, I was unsure about how much attention I wanted and how I would be accepted.
This time, however, I am here to shine a light on the bold and proud members of the LGBTQ community and the things they do to enrich it. Things like producing Pride festivals and LGBT icons; things like supporting each other and helping other gay teens accept that the way they think is not wrong; things like lighting the way out of suppression to freedom.
When I wrote my first article, I spoke about those in the community who were silently struggling, and how it feels to live like that. Sadly, I discussed a whole lot about depression and suicide rates throughout the community.
Today, I want to share the details of my amazing journey to acceptance.
I thought I had pretty much always accepted myself. I had not been insecure about my sexuality for a while. However, this was all challenged when I faced conquering my biggest fear: coming out to my dad, something I hadn’t planned on doing for at least another six or seven years.
I feared his response, but when my first honest relationship ended terribly and I was heartbroken, I couldn’t hide my sadness from my dad. He kept questioning my misery, so I finally gave him the truth. And what I got was a response I had correctly anticipated: “It’s just a phase, you’ll get over it.”
I had to learn to ignore my dad’s ignorance and unwillingness to accept me. I had to be proud of myself and my lifestyle. I decided to focus on doing the best I could academically, because I’ll be on my own in the future, and I need a solid foundation to build on. I have learned and grown; I have seen the strength a good relationship can provide, and I’ve learned how to avoid the damage done by toxic relationships. All of this is something I’ve learned through struggles in my life and as a member of the LGBTQ community. I pushed through my hardships and learned just how strong I am. And I am happy now and no longer anonymous.
But so many people reduce the struggle to come out simply as “that gay kid” or “the trans kid” either putting their families through hell or trying to get attention. Few people acknowledge the courageous journeys we must travel to get to a place of freedom and acceptance; a place we can get to only with real strength.
When you meet gay, trans or bi – i.e. queer – individuals, ask them about their stories. Quickly, you’ll realize that these are some of the strongest people you will ever meet. Ever. Then talk to the Hispanic and African American people – any people called “minorities” in our community – and learn how hard it was for them to live as themselves and find acceptance. Fortunately, we are living in a time of change, a time of huge significant moments, where the preset notion of a “traditional family” is being shattered and redefined; a time which allows us to reject the outdated ideologies and replace them with judgment-free expression.
With this change comes a great trickle down effect: in 2015 we celebrated the legalization of gay marriage in all states. On May 29, 2019, the World Health Organization took being transgender off the list of mental disorders. Full non-discrimination protection laws have been passed in 21 out of the 50 states. It may not be a lot, but it is indicative of where we’re going.
The LGBTQ community is bigger than most of us are aware. I didn’t know that until I went to my first Pride. I thought I was the only little gay girl in all of Brewster. I let myself open up to be myself, and I found a wonderful world in full rainbow colors for what seemed like the first time. I saw amazing people, influencers, inspiration, famous people, and regardless of who I knew and didn’t know, the atmosphere was exhilarating.
I have seen couples who are trying authentically to live their lives in school and be together in the hallways without the fear of judgment or cruelty. I want to applaud them for their courage, and I want to encourage them and inspire them by wearing my pride on my sleeve and ignoring all of those who hate it, because I know my story and I know the journey I have traveled to be able to wear this pride. And the hatred can’t matter.
No matter how deep in the closet you might be, believe me, all the fear and worries will completely dissolve and you will live the life you are entitled to live. Your life will go from being lived in black and white to coming out into a world of brilliant color, because you are finally free.
We owe it to future generations to commit to change. It is my goal for the future that every member of the LGBTQ community – and anyone suffering suppression – can push through to feel the freedom and the happiness that I do.