We often let other people project their fears onto us, but we need to take a stand.
Hiding behind a straight persona was a harmful way to live, and I decided to let go of that facade. I made a ton more friends, boys and girls; I joined sports teams but I also joined dancing, painting, and singing classes. Previously, I had deprived myself of these amazing creative outlets, but I realized they allowed me to express who I was.
From a young age, the idea that gay equaled bad was put into my mind. People would use “gay” as a synonym for lousy or imperfect. Even my brothers, who love me, would tease me about my sexuality when I didn’t even know what the word meant yet.
I wasn’t aware of my attraction to either sex, or of my sexual desires. Soon I started to believe this idea that gay was synonymous with bad, and I started to suppress my feelings toward other boys. When asked, I would always deny liking them, although I did.
I made daily efforts to try and cover up my queerness; I dated girls and joined some sports teams. In elementary school I was already afraid of sexual orientation without really knowing what it meant. Trying to hide behind a straight persona didn’t last very long and it wasn’t effective. It was a harmful way to live, and I decided to let go of some of that facade. I just did what I liked doing, and hung out with whomever I wanted. This opened up so many opportunities for me, because now I allowed myself to do all these different activities. I made a ton more friends, boys and girls; I joined sports teams but I also joined dancing, painting, and singing classes. Previously, I had deprived myself of these amazing creative outlets, but I realized they allowed me to express who I was.
In fifth grade, I got the news that I was moving away, and saw this as my chance to come out to certain people at school. I came out as bisexual to a few friends and it was a breeze. I had a lot more trouble coming out to my three closest friends. I was terrified of losing them, and afraid they would think differently of me. I didn’t want to get my heart broken. Once I mustered up the courage, they told me they had always known and that they would always love me. My coming out to them wasn’t necessary but I believe it made us closer, and now I can truly be my authentic self with them. I was extremely lucky to have such amazing friends who were so accepting, loving, and open-minded.
I would love to say it was all easy from there on, but it really wasn’t. I moved around a lot when I lived in Canada, and every new town challenged me with the same problems. I was always the new kid and I always stood apart. A couple of months into the school year, the gay rumors would start to spread. I wasn’t as mentally strong as I would’ve liked back then, and I let all this negativity affect me. Making friends was hard, but I never gave up, and eventually I found the right people, the ones who accept me as I am. Unfortunately, this cycle repeated itself three times.
I spent so many nights crying myself to sleep because I was afraid of what people thought of me.
Then, at age 15, I came to Utah with a brand new mindset. I was going to be my most authentic self and live my life. Instead of pretending to be something I’m not, I told myself I would simply be me. I didn’t come into my new school waving around a rainbow flag announcing that I am queer but I also didn’t deny it if someone asked. I think that’s what really helped me fully embrace my sexuality and made me realize none of it really mattered.
For once, I was unapologetically me. I felt much better mentally and I was in a happier place. My sexuality was welcomed so positively. I started getting involved in the LGBTQ+ community of Salt Lake by going to dances and events. These events made me feel confident and normal and I enjoyed that they were places where everyone fits in. It’s so amazing to see a community be so inclusive. I started meeting wonderful people, all from very unique backgrounds.
It took some time to find them, but I’ve made some very close friends who are so open-minded, genuine, accepting, and loving. I don’t think I would’ve had the opportunity to be surrounded with these amazing people if it hadn’t been for my sexuality and involvement in the LGBTQ+ community.
Still, I was somewhat afraid of telling everyone else. “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” - I heard this saying and it gave me the courage I needed. I finally felt ready to let the rest of the world know. I made a public statement on National Coming Out Day, letting everyone know I wasn’t straight. The Facebook post received so much support from family members and friends. It made me feel truly loved and all I had to do was be myself. When my parents saw, they said they had always known and that they would always love me, no matter what. I am eternally grateful to have such a loving and supportive family. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
Although I still face many struggles, I will always keep fighting. We are faced with stigma, stereotypes, and misconceptions, and I hope we can put an end to all of it. I know that life will continue to challenge me, but I also know that I will continue to grow and learn from my experiences.
I will create the best version of myself and discover my purpose in the world. The road ahead may be rough, but it sure is worth it.
We all have our path to follow and we must stay true to ourselves. Some will have it easier than others, but you have to remember everything happens for a reason and it gets better. There’s no point in living a life filled with fear. We are our biggest enemies, we hold ourselves back. We often let other people project their fears onto us, but we need to take a stand. Do not let other people dictate how you should live. I hope that anyone struggling realizes there’s so much to life, so much to live for. It might be hard and you might lose some people along your journey; instead of thinking about who you lost, think of all the people you will gain and the ones who stuck with you. Those are the people you want to focus on. It’s almost like we get to create a second family for ourselves. I am immensely thankful for all the people I have met so far on my journey. I cannot wait to see where life takes me from here.