Around 15 years old, I knew that I was different, especially in one important way: I liked boys. For a short time, I struggled with what to call myself, but being the person I was, I was able to keep my emotions to myself, for a time. I dated a few boys from other high schools, and eventually, the mounting pressure on my identity caused me to become depressed, and suicidal. In my goodbye letter, I didn’t even have the courage to be honest with my loved ones why I was so depressed. That’s how ashamed I was. Religious dogmas forced upon me by others and societal pressures caused me to hate myself, not because I was a bad person, but simply because of my one difference.
Finally, I’m not sure quite when, around 18 years old, I was honest with my parents and told them that I never intended to get married to a woman, and have the life they thought I should. At first, I felt no acceptance, and had no acknowledgement that it was all going to be ok. For several years, the relationships in my family suffered and were thin at best. But, after some time, and the slow realization that life can turn out just fine, just different than expected, my family turned around, and by the time my brother also came out, things were on the right path.
Most LGBTQ people have a story to tell. Ask them about it. You’ll find that these people have experienced so much trauma and anguish that you could never realize what they’ve been though until you ask. Ours is a unique experience. By no means should our straight friends think that everything is just fine for us now, or that we live with full equality. We absolutely do not. If you meet us, you will find that although we might not live the same way you do, or believe the same things, we want to live happy, productive lives, and in that we are the same.
Thank you to all of the special people in my life who I have shared loving moments in relation to this topic: my husband, brothers, allies and friends, and many others.
Buena Park, CA