I’ve always known I had a little bit of gay inside me. I was really young when I first realized, probably 5 or 6. I knew I liked girls from the first time I watched Friends and saw Jennifer Aniston, but I also liked boys. I wasn’t sure if that was allowed or if that was even a thing.
Being gay was never, ever talked about in my family. I pretty much pushed it to the side until middle school. Then I heard the word bisexual from one of my friends. I had some guesses about what it meant, but my family was very close-minded so I didn’t really hear about stuff like that. After I learned what it meant, I started identifying as bi. I started experimenting with my sexuality, but as you can imagine, being so young, not a lot of people know how they identify yet.
Flash forward to freshman year of high school. I was signing up for my advisory class. I saw GSA and asked a teacher what it meant. Gay-Straight Alliance. It was music to my ears. Finally, somewhere I could maybe fit in. I remember coming home and telling my dad that I had joined the club. He just shrugged it off.
When I switched houses and told my mom, it was like I had committed the worst sin ever, even though I hadn’t done anything. I just joined a club. I didn’t even tell her that I thought I was bisexual. After being in the club for a while, I learned so many new terms. I started questioning my identity and finally settled on pansexual after about a year.
My definition of pansexual is liking people based on their personality and not their genitalia, but it’s so much more than that to me. It’s loving everybody, no matter their background, no matter their race, sexuality, or gender. It’s loving everybody no matter what.
I started going to youth summit retreats organized around identity. And they changed my life. No joke. I became a much better advocate and ally for my community.
I finally told my mom. It wasn’t really my choice. She asked me if I was gay on our drive home one day after she picked me up early from school. I remember it like it was yesterday. I stuttered through my answer. “Um kinda, maybe, kinda, maybe, ya?” I instantly started crying. I knew what was about to come. She started preaching to me about how being gay is a sin, how I was going to hell. How could I do this to her? As if it was a choice to be gay or to be taunted and bullied almost every day for my sexuality. As soon as we got home after a 45-minute drive of pure torture, I ran up to my room. I didn’t get out of bed for hours on end. The good part is that over time, she has come to accept me more and more. She even went to pride fest with me and my friend. I have yet to tell my dad, but I’m 99% sure he already knows.
My advice to all the struggling LGBTQ+ people out there is to never, never, never give up hope. No matter how bad you want to, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. It can’t rain forever.