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LGBTQ Voices

How My Friends Developed Respect for My Sexuality

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Author, sitting in a black shirt, white shorts and boating shoes on a railing overlooking a body of water.
Saint Cloud, MN

I came out when I was 15-years-old by telling my closest friend, Alexis. I told my other closest friends before I told my family.

Both my parents had a very strong faith in their church. When I told my mom one night that I was gay, she immediately began crying.

I thought I had disappointed her. My mother told most of the family, which helped her understand who I was. A few weeks after, my parents signed me up to see a counselor/therapist.

This was by far the hardest part of coming out. My parents putting me through therapy really hurt me because it showed that they thought something was wrong with who I am.

I thought that I had done something wrong, or that what I said was something that I shouldn’t have. I thought that the way that I was born was wrong. But after time went by, things began to smooth out.

As more and more people found out, my parents became more comfortable with what was a foreign mindset to them. Today, I couldn’t ask for more supportive, loving, and caring parents.

I originally realized that I was gay when I was in the 8th grade. As most guys did, I began watching porn.

This is when I knew that something was different with me than the other guys in my grade. Until I had my first boyfriend, I always thought that there was a chance that I could also be attracted to women.

After having a couple of girlfriends, both the physical and mental attraction just wasn’t there, so I began dating a guy. At this point, I knew that I was not attracted to women. And, that I had a physical and mental attraction towards men.

After coming out as gay, I was treated much differently, but not in a negative way. Yes, there were those few people who would still call me a “fag” or “queer,” but coming out significantly decreased the amount of what people had to say.

Those who used to pick on and bully me, through middle school and my first year of high school, no longer bullied me. Instead, they almost had a sort of respect for me that they didn’t before.

I think it is important to recognize and celebrate those that are coming out. It is still an issue for people to come out and feel accepted. It’s crazy, the stuff you hear about in the news.

Being kicked out of the house or something worse all because they’re not the same. It can be scary to tell people about who you are because you never know how people will react.

I believe that the LGBTQ+ community has gained strength over the past couple of years. If you don’t have someone close that you can trust, there are many ways to get help in this community. It’s truly a blessing.

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LGBTQ Voices

How I Gained Self-Acceptance Through Queer Straight Alliance

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Author, in a maroon sweater, and grey cap in the mountains and overlooking a vast canopy of trees
Rochester, NY

I’ve come out to friends who know me well. Not family. It’s mainly because they probably wouldn’t understand bisexuality. They would think that you have to be either straight or gay.

I feel like they would consider it ‘just a phase.’ I’m at a stage in my life where I’m fairly independent.

My personal life is something that my family becomes aware of on a need to know basis. I don’t know if I’ll ever come out to them. Maybe someday, but not now.

In high school, I was pretty repressed. I went to a Catholic middle school.

The message there was that being anything other than straight means that you’re going to burn in hell. Even though, at that point, I was starting to question that doctrine.

Moving into high school, subconsciously, I think I still carried it with me. I was pretty sexually repressed until around the start of junior year.

I helped a friend, who was out at the time, start the Gay-Straight Alliance, later the Queer-Straight Alliance, at my high school.

By changing who I was hanging out with, I began to develop self-acceptance.

I realized it was okay to question these things. It was in senior year of high school that I started saying to people, ‘I’m figuring myself out, but I know that I’m not completely straight.’

I’ve always felt sort of weird about being a late bloomer. I do feel privileged in that I did eventually have the space to explore my sexuality. I know that’s not always the case for everyone.

We had a honeymoon stage where it seemed like LGBTQ people were having a lot more freedom to be self-expressive. It felt like there was this social progression for acceptance.

I think the Trump era has definitely reinforced the fact that this maybe not have been true. Although it’s certainly not the 50s and 60s, I think that there is still a considerable amount of struggle when it comes to being out. Especially depending on where you are.

There are pockets where people are very accepting. However, we still have a long way to go.

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LGBTQ Voices

How I Overcame the Expectations of My Family to Conform to Societal Norms

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Author, in a black sweater and red pants, standing against a railing overlooking a canopy of trees
Long Island, NY

Growing up in a conservative household, there was no room to be different or to speak out against the norm.

My parents expected me to be very traditional in all aspects of my life. They even originally didn’t want me to go to college. Instead, they wanted me to just look for a spouse right out of high school.

However, I am not very traditional and I have come to the realization that I probably never will be. Most of my friends are single and in their late 20s.

They do not have typical office jobs and many of them are in the LGBTQ community. Actually, being a part of this friend group is the main reason why I had enough confidence to come out.

Once I graduated high school, I was pretty lost. I was hiding my sexuality from my family for years and even tried dating the opposite sex to please them.

However, once I started going online more frequently, I started to meet people who had similar struggles and stories. This is where I was really able to speak out and make connections in the LGBTQ community.

Eventually, I was able to come out as a lesbian to my family with my friends’ help and support. While I was not accepted right away, I was still so relieved that I was being open and honest with my loved ones.

Personally, I really hope that our community can keep staying strong and speaking out for what is right. In recent years, I have noticed many more LGBTQ characters and figures being publicized in pop culture. This is wonderful for younger audiences, specifically so that they can be introduced to our community at a young age.

I personally appreciate TV shows such as Glee and Riverdale for their ability to use LGBTQ characters. Also, seeing same-sex marriages being legalized and promoted is really a great thing for our community. This really gives our community the validation it needs to keep making a difference in the world.

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LGBTQ Voices

My Journey Testing Out Different Labels for Myself

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Two wrists wearing rainbow bracelets.
Queens, NY

Growing up in the internet age with things like Tumblr and Twitter in my life as a teenager really helped me see that I was bisexual. On the internet, you can be true to yourself.

You can explore and discover who you are relatively safely. You can be anonymous to people you know in real life. That gave me so much freedom.

Because of the internet, I was able to test out different labels and see what was right for me. I identified as aromantic, pansexual, and lesbian. I eventually settled on “bisexual” as the best label for me.

I don’t use Tumblr anymore because it has many toxic ideas on it. Still, it really helped me as a teen trying to find myself.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t grown up with the internet or if I hadn’t lived in a progressive city like New York. I think I could have lived my whole life repressing my sexuality and believing I was straight.

Being bisexual is so important to me. I’m so thankful for the environment I was raised in.

The LGBTQ community is incredibly important to me. Having a community like that helps me meet amazing new people.

I love going to LGBTQ+ events. This community is so strong, creative, and resilient. I’m very proud to be a part of that.

All of my close friends are LGBTQ+ too. Even people that I knew before coming out.

Having that in common brings us closer together. It’s something that we can talk about and bond over.

I’m not officially out to my parents but I think they know. They’re very open-minded so they wouldn’t care anyway. I’m out to my sister, she’s bisexual too.

With my friends, it was casual. Like I said, they’re all part of the LGBTQ+ community.

I knew they were LGBTQ+ before they knew about me. That made it really easy to just drop into conversation. Now we’re a big happy LGBTQ+ group, it’s great.

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