I have come out a lot. To a lot of people. And each time I’ve received very different reactions. Some were very positive, some not so much and some were just plain ridiculous. One of the worst, but also one of the funniest, was when I came out to my best friend in high school, who responded by kissing me. It would have been awesome (and probably movie screenplay-worthy) if my friend had been a girl. But he’s a guy, so it was just gross.
Now this didn’t bother me much at the time because he apologized and now is the number one member of my fan club (yes, I have a fan club). But most importantly, I was about to go to college. And everybody knows that college is like Mecca for lesbians. And people at lesbian Meccas have nothing but the utmost respect for lesbians, right? Wrong. Guys have tried to turn me straight. People have tried to exploit my sexuality for their entertainment. I know some girls that have even been used by other girls to get male attention. And when I went home and came out to my family, I was told that I couldn’t possibly know that I was gay and I could totally end up with a guy if I just tried it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had way more positive experiences than negative ones, and for every person who has given me a hard time, there have been about a hundred others who have been awesome, but I still can’t help but wonder about all the negativity. So why is it that lesbianism seems to be something that can be conquered? Why is it believed that, provided with the right man, a gay lady will come to her senses and settle down for some good old-fashioned heterosexuality? Well, I don’t know exactly, but I do know that it all boils down to a lack of respect for LGBTQ identities.
Now I apologize to all the non-lesbians out there for filling your favorite part of the newspaper with my gay lady agenda, but lesbians aren’t the only ones suffering from this problem. All members of the LGBTQ community have faced disrespect for their identities at some point. How many of you have had your sexuality and gender identity not taken seriously? How many of you have been told that you’re just going through a phase or that you’re too young to know who you are and what you want? It’s annoying at best, but for the most part it’s pretty hurtful, especially coming from family and friends.
So here’s my message (I hope you take it to heart): Figuring out your sexuality and your gender identity is not easy. It takes time. It takes introspection. It takes confidence, and it takes courage. And once you’ve said it to yourself, it’s about a thousand times more difficult to actually say it out loud to another person. And if you are that other person, and you brush it off as being “just a phase” or worse, you take it as a challenge to turn that person straight, you are basically taking all of that time and introspection and courage and saying that it is nothing. It was just a waste of energy because for all the time you’ve spent thinking about who you are and what you want, you really don’t know anything about yourself. So show some respect. The odds are that if you are reading this article, you already do. And if you are lucky enough to be a queer kid, don’t accept disrespect. You deserve better.