Today America made history. Today is a day that will not be forgotten, because an outpouring of love spread across the country. Hate cannot combat the amount of love I have seen come from friends, coworkers, and family.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage (or as we can now call it, “marriage”), I can proudly say that I’m alive. Now you may be wondering, But aren’t you happy to be alive every day? I try my hardest to be happy every day. I’m going to share a story with you. No worries, you’ll see where I’m going with this by the end of this post.
I’ve never shared much about my past. Especially in such a public area like this. Today seems like a good day to tell my story as quickly as possible to prove my next point.
Where does my story begin? It begins like every other person who has struggled with being LGBT. As a kid, I loved singing, acting, and writing. I was a very creative child. No, not every gay person is creative, and not every creative person is gay, but I felt different. Something about me was always different. What was different for me than for most people was this: I always knew that I was gay.
Well, that may be a bit of exaggeration. I didn’t always know. Sexuality, while I think it is predetermined in every person, you don’t just come out of the womb with one. Or rather, you don’t know it right away. As a child, sexual orientation is not something you really think about. But something about me was different. By the time I was 7 or 8, I knew that I found boys cute.
Here’s where it gets interesting: I actually didn’t know it was “wrong” in the eyes of most people at the time. I really thought that me crushing on boys was okay. Of course, this led to problems with them. I remember in elementary school, I struggled really bad with making guy friends. To this day I still do, unless they’re gay. I have one straight male friend and that’s it. I remember how hard it was. All I wanted was a friend, right? I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. I didn’t even know the word “gay”. I just knew I liked guys.
Skip ahead a few years to late elementary school. I started telling my friends about my crushes. As you can expect, this probably didn’t go over very well, especially since I grew up in the south. Other kids hated me. I developed serious emotional issues due to the bullying and my own anxiety over being different. It was something most kids my age weren’t dealing with. In fact, I was the only one in my school dealing with it. At least, so I thought. Maybe I was the only one being vocal about it. Either way, I was miserable. I was bullied, treated badly because of who I was, and even my school thought there was something wrong with me. I eventually came out to my family, and I seriously thought my parents were going to have a heart attack. But this only made things worse.
Because my school knew I liked boys, they believed I was being sexually abused at home (which, for the record, DID NOT happen). This led to my sister and I being taken away. Thankfully, the state quickly realized their decision was whacked, so we were sent back to my family. When I look back on this situation now, it makes me sick to my stomach. I was NEVER sexually abused. Ever. My parents loved me, even despite struggling with the fact that their only son at the time was gay.
In 5th and 6th grade, I dealt with more bullying. Was hospitalized for my emotional issues. Spent years feeling alone, like the world would always just HATE gay people. I thought I was flawed. I thought I was disgusting. I could barely stand to look at myself. Finally, by 7th grade, I began to slowly accept who I was, but that didn’t mean the bullying stopped.
The bullying continued all the way to 9th grade. Even though I was comfortable with myself, it still hurt. I still struggled to make friends with other males, and if I did, I messed it up. I was stuck on repeat. I didn’t know how to function or communicate.
For two years I struggled with self-harm. I attempted suicide 4 times. Depression and anxiety were taking over. I feared the world that we lived in. Finally, I was able to overcome my issues, and am proud to say I’m still alive today.
I am so happy to be alive today. Now, you may be wondering, Why did you just write all of that? Why confess so much online? Because I know I’m not the only one.
Let’s take a look at some startling statistics:
- 40% of homeless youth identity as LGBT.
- LGBT youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
- Questioning youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
- LGBT youth who come from non-accepting families are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than LGBT youth from accepting families.
- Suicide attempts in LGBT youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to end in injury.
- 29 states can fire you for being gay.
- Two-thirds of LGBT youth report being sexually harassed.
- A fifth of students report being physically assaulted for their sexuality.
So what does this all mean? Yes, we’ve won marriage equality. But these need to be our next focus. I know how hard these issues are to deal with. I’ve dealt with them personally.
We may have won this battle, but we have not won the war on LGBT people. I am sharing my story to raise awareness to the fact that this is not over. We need to protect our citizens. We need them to know they’re loved.
So readers, I ask…will you take a stand against homophobia today? Will you be on the right side of history?