I grew up in a very accepting home. No one ever told me that being gay was bad. I also did not really have a lot of experience with the LGBTQ+ community until I was in middle school. One of my friends there was gay and another one of my friend's sister was a lesbian. I did not think much about it at the time, and I had a "boyfriend" during middle school. But now that I look back at it, I remember that there was this girl. She was funny and pretty and we were good friends, but I did not think much more of it.
I look back on that memory now and one thing is clear. She literally asked me out. She wanted me to be her date to her sister's wedding. As a preteen who had yet discovered her sexual orientation I thought it was a friend thing. I did not end up going with her and she moved away at the end of the year, but if I could tell something to my past self it would be this: "Look, kid, you are gay. She is gay. Go for it."
Instead, I actually discovered my orientation about two years later when a very pretty girl walked into almost every single one of my freshman classes. We had so much in common, and every day I woke up thrilled to see her. It took me a while to realize that this was more than just friends. I was infatuated with her. I found out she liked girls and I was thrilled. I had come up with this entire scenario in my head. I was going to tell her I had a crush on a girl and that she was pretty and nerdy, and I think I even made a fake name for her. I set the bait a few days later when I told her that I wanted her help confessing my feelings towards the girl. She agreed to help. At lunch that day I found her and told her to come with me, that I was going to go tell the girl that I liked her. I took my friend down the hall and stopped. I said we are here and that she was the girl. And guess what she said? She said she knew! It is hilarious to look back on, but it was awkward at the moment. We did not end up together, but we are still extremely close friends to this day. She and I go to pride parades and are the President and Vice President of our school's GSA.
I haven't faced a lot of discrimination or prejudice, but I have seen people deal with it. I remember when I realized how bad things could get. I knew that not all parents were accepting and I knew people got kicked out, but it wasn’t until I looked in my first girlfriend's eyes as she talked about how she was too scared to come out to her parents. Then I realized. I realized that there are probably lots more kids like her in my school, in my state, and in our country, who are scared to be themselves, even when they are alone.
My advice to all of you - you who are reading this because it is something you are passionate about, you who Googled "gay stuff" because you are questioning, you who are just reading this for fun - is to be yourself. I know everyone says that, but it’s true. No matter what anyone tells you, be yourself. You can't force your heart to be something it doesn't want to be.