I would like to start by saying that everything that you're about to read is simply what I have experienced in the past and present as someone a part of the LGBTQ+ community. What I'm writing, is not a reflection on the entire community, for I understand that everyone’s experience (as a queer person) is different and unique in its own way. I am writing merely about the common themes found in my life and other queer people’s lives that I have seen and been around. This is to help and connect with people who have felt isolated and have felt abandoned since the day that they were born because of their sexuality. As a queer person, one might often feel misplaced and unwanted in this world full of billions upon billions of people. We often have to walk through life with unnecessary burdens and often question our existence and purpose on a daily basis even when we’re in a “happy” state of mind. At least I do, which is why I am choosing to write about these experiences and thoughts of mine. I am in need of someone to truly see and understand me just like you the reader. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! I hope you feel seen, heard, and understood. And for those of you who may not be a part of the community, please don’t take anything said here as an insult. Choose to listen and be open to change. If after reading this you realize that there are things that you need to change, choose it! Choose to be a better supporter and friend. Thank you to everyone who took their time to read this. Peace and love!
To everyone and anyone LGBTQ+ who has ever felt invalidated and unloved, I love you!!! You will have everything you ever wanted and dreamed!!!🤎
Starting off, let’s touch on the topic of love. Love: a feeling of deep affection. As a gay child, way before puberty, the concept of love has never been an easy thing for me and I knew it would never be, even before I entered the school system. Of course as a child, you receive love and affection from your family and strangers just for being cute. That type of love came easy. Things pertaining to romance, not so much. The possibility of romance never got a chance to settle in my life. Even now as a twenty year old, I still struggle to embrace love, even within myself. When you grow up gay, your love life is automatically a fight for your life. And for some, that’s a literal statement.
Whether it’s because of religion or just the homophobic ideas planted in society, gay people are constantly invalidated and it starts when you’re very young. I grew up as a church kid, and before I could even express it, I knew that the “ways” within me were “wrong”, “displeasing”, “gross”, “disgusting”, etc. I knew that love was something for every other boy and girl on the playground, just not for me. Before the age of six, I had already decided that I was going to have to be single for as long as I lived. I knew I couldn’t change this thing about myself, but as a Christian child, I knew that I didn’t have any other option but to be single forever, because who wants to burn in hell forever. No child should have these thoughts before they even enter the school system. I was thinking about these things and planning ahead for my love life in Preschool! When I look back on it, I realize how early I was forced to grow up and how insane it actually is for a five year old to be battling with something so mentally scary and draining.
Growing up, the thought of living life alone never left my mind. I am someone who likes to be affectionate and just really enjoy love, so I naturally wondered how the love that I had to give was “bad”. After all, I never asked to be gay. I never asked to like the color pink or to play with Barbie dolls. All I wanted was to love and be loved. I grew up around adults who had loving relationships with each other and I wanted that for myself. When I reached Jr. High and High School, my misery increased by the boatload. That time of my life was the worst when it came to my identity and sexuality. Seeing people being able to express their emotions and freely being able to show off their partner without the possibility of shame, guilt, and social anxiety hurt me. I am a heavy, hopeless romantic (always have been) and I started living my life through love songs, romance movies, and romantic novels. These creative outlets became my way of living the life that I wanted. Even though that’s a little embarrassing for me to admit, at the time it was my only option. Valentine’s Day was hard to deal with also. Who doesn’t want to be able to proudly take pictures and walk hand and hand with the person they're romantically with? I started to become bitter and somewhat angry that I wouldn’t be able to have the same thing. Some of you might be wondering: “What about the people who are straight who are/were single? They don’t have anyone either.” To that question, I would say that’s not the point and never will be. Straight people have the freedom to be in love without the ugly stares, slurs, hate crimes, judgment, and possibility of eternal damnation, simply for who they are naturally attracted to. For who they love.
“Straightness” has never been outlawed and has never been made political. When it comes to being gay, there is so much that you have to do and think about if you choose to be in a open, public relationship. Number one, you have to think about how you want to come out to family and friends and decide if it’s even safe enough mentally, physically, and emotionally to do so. And that’s if you want to come out at all. Then, you have to think about how you could hide the relationship you’re in and how long you think you could hide it if you decide it’s not safe to come out. Plus, you have to think about your partner's feelings and see if they would even be okay with keeping everything a secret or being introduced to your family (depending on how extreme things are). And after you think everything through, you endure intense anxiety of what could happen and brace yourself for the worse. Again, this is not every queer person’s experience, just things that I’ve been through and things I feel like many queer people can relate to. There will come a time when you make peace with your decision, but the pain and fear you endure, just to love and be loved, is almost a never ending thing. No one can begin to understand the mental and emotional torment gay people have to go through just to live the human experience to the fullest extent and to love who they are when they look into the mirror each morning. And when you look out and see the hatred that people wake up with and harbor in their heart for queer people, just because of who we love, you wonder what love is and if it’s really as real as people make it out to be.
Now that we’ve finished talking about the mushy stuff, let’s talk about friends! Friendship: A relationship between allies. As a gay person myself, I can say that solid and healthy friendships are so important. Your inner circle of friends can make or break you, especially when you’re queer. My friends have been so supportive towards me and my journey to self-discovery. In a gay person’s life there needs to be a balance. If one can’t find love and support from one group of people, they’re going to look for it somewhere else and a lot of the time, gay people find it within their friends. Growing up, coming out to my friends wasn’t as difficult or intense as it was coming out to my immediate family. I guess, with family, I figured that I would be forever involved with them and that there was more to lose telling family than telling my friends at school.
Of course when I came out in high-school, no one was completely shocked. Everyone around could kind of tell and had their suspicions about my sexuality for a long time. When I was in junior high, seventh grade to be exact, I met my best friend, Grace Williams. We met in English class doing a “getting to know you” assignment and the rest is literal history. Come this August, we will have been friends for ten years! One of the many things that I love about our relationship is how she had my back concerning my sexuality, even though we barely knew each other at the time. Unknowing to me, my peers were really, really interested in figuring out my sexuality. They would often, of course, find Grace by herself and question her about my sexuality. She was very quick to defend me and basically told them to get lost and mind their own damn business (not 100% like that, but yall get the point). That spoke volumes to me because even though we just became friends, she didn’t give in to the gossip.
She really helped me see my worth and demonstrated to me the things that I should accept in a friend. As a queer person, that meant so much to me. She could have easily spilled the beans and let the whole student body know my business, but she didn’t. When you’re gay, you are constantly fighting. Not only are you fighting other people, but you’re fighting your own mind at times. You want a friend who will fight off haters with you and not someone who will help them destroy your mind. That’s exactly what I got with Grace.
The day that I came out to my peers at school just so happened to be National Coming Out Day. I was in the ninth grade sitting in a civics class out of all places. I remember sitting next to a guy that I had known since the fourth grade. I eventually came out to him and it eventually trickled down to other people (if they hadn’t come to the conclusion themselves already). Everyone that I was close to knew the truth, my truth, and that’s all that mattered to me. None of this would have been possible without the acceptance of my bestfriend and another very close friend of mine named Aisha. I remember sitting in the library with her on the couch and coming out to her my ninth grade year before I came out to everybody else. I remember expressing to her how scary the judgment of coming out was and her, barely even knowing me, gave me the best advice and encouragement about my situation. She didn’t try to mold me into something else and allowed me room to just be myself. That’s what friendship is and I’m still friends with them to this very day! I remember feeling so free the day I came out to everyone. It was as if heavy weights had been lifted off my shoulders. One thing that many people don’t realize is that being “in the closet” is a draining and exhausting process. When you’re constantly hiding who you really are, you’re actually hurting and stressing yourself out more than if you would face the truth. I’ve learned that the truth
will find a way to come out no matter what it is. If you don’t deal with reality, reality will deal with you. So if you’re reading this and haven’t had the courage to free yourself from being “in the closet”, I pray that as you read this you will be able to face the truth at the perfect time that’s safe and right for you in all aspects of your life. I understand the pain and stress you’re under and know that it’s not easy. Fortunately, I was blessed to be in an environment that was safe enough for me to express who I am. I know that not everyone has that luxury and pray that they get to be free in this way one day too.
Now let’s talk about security! Protection: the act of protecting or being protected. To be completely honest, I never really felt one-hundred percent protected as a child and honestly I don’t now. As anyone a part of the LGBTQ+ community would know, you have to remain aware of your surroundings at all times. People are full of hate and you never know when the hate will boil over. You even have to be careful with your family, as depressing as that sounds. When most people think about protection, they usually think about the word in a physical sense. A lot of my experiences feeling unprotected came from a mental and emotional standpoint. This is why I encourage anyone that’s queer to do what’s best for them. Don’t come out about your sexuality until you’re ready. Take time to scope out how your surroundings are not only for your physical safety, but for your emotional and mental safety as well. Depression is real and for queer people, anxiety and depression can easily find it’s way into your life.
One of the many downsides of being a gay child in a devoted Christian family, is that no one takes you into consideration. No one stops and thinks about the facial expressions they make or the things they say anytime they see a gay couple on the screen, because they assume everyone around in the family is straight. And even if they aren’t, they aren’t a part of God’s will, so they need to hear it. And it’s even more painful when you’re not “out” yet, because if you stand up for things like this, they’ll begin to question your sexuality, even if it’s you just being a decent person. One of biggest battles for me as a queer person, isn’t the physical threats that come with it. It’s the mental and emotional pain that I have to go through. Because I grew up in the Christian faith, I experienced extreme mental and emotional battles on the daily as a gay child. There were days where I told God that I didn’t want to live anymore and that I wanted to cease to exist. There even came a point where I ditched God all together and held resentment towards him for bringing me here. No one but you gets to live in your head twenty-four-seven. Only you do. You have to deal with all the day to day mental and emotional exhaustion. So to anyone that’s queer reading this, don’t EVER let anyone invalidate your experience and what you have gone through. Being queer isn’t easy and can often be scary and it’s something we can’t turn on and off. If you can, find a way to separate yourself, even if it’s only for a little bit, from the people that cause you mental, emotional, and maybe for some of you, physical stress.
Dealing with family as a queer identifying person, is a terrifying experience. More often than not, a gay person lives with a judgemental, unaccepting family. And often, you have to sit through and deal with hearing things that destroy your mental and emotional happiness. Speaking from my personal experience, this caused me to become defensive. I needed to protect myself and the only true way to do that, for me, was by keeping in the back of my mind that my family might not want anything to do with me if I was to fully embrace who I am and that’s okay. Then, you start to question the idea of love and soon realize that your family might not love you wholeheartedly like you once believed, and that’s the thing that hurts the most. It’s not easy to have to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for detachment from the people who raised you. who you thought would love you forever even if no one else does. To interact with your parents knowing that if they found out that you were gay or, even if they already know, saw you officially with someone, that they would possibly hurt you in some way (emotionally, mentally, physically) is a heartbreaking experience. And to add insult to injury, so many people don’t care about the abusive things gay people go through. They believe we deserve it and that mentality sometimes likes to rub off on us causing us to go even deeper into anxiety and depression. It’s hard to enjoy the good times with your family knowing that it might not be like this forever. It builds distrust, and again, from my experience, causes you to doubt your entire existence as a human being: “Why am I here?”, “Why did my parents decide to have me?”, “Is family real and what does it really mean?” It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I’ve learned that family is about love and support and that doesn’t always come from blood relatives. Sometimes it comes from co-workers, your romantic partner, friends, and most importantly, God and YOURSELF. Family isn’t about whose DNA matches with yours. It’s about compassion, understanding, and love.
To all my LGTBQ+ family out there, know that you are never alone. You deserve love from others and you deserve to love yourself. Don’t give up hope for peace and love in your life because it’s right around the corner, trust! I had to learn how to love myself and even though the problems aren’t completely gone and I’m still learning how to love myself, I’m glad I fought through the hurt and the pain that I went through. I am a different person then who I used to be and I know you’ll get there too! If you are looking for people to talk to, go to https://afsp.org/lgbtq-crisis-and-support-resources where you will find plenty of resources that are here to help you or anyone you know that’s LGBTQ+ and going through a hard time. And remember that if you feel unloved, unworthy, unaccepted, and undervalued, know that I love you dearly even if I don’t know who you are. God wanted me to write this for a reason and that reason was for you! I send you love, joy, and peace! XOXO 💙