advice to my
written by Maise
When I was 14, I realised I wasn’t straight. This was overwhelming and terrifying; I wasn’t sure what this meant for my future and who I might be. Regardless of how old you are, it’s never too late to question whether you are part of the community. Here’s some things I wish my younger self knew.
Take your time.
There’s often a lot of pressure to place yourself in a label and fit neatly into that box. You might have friends that are also LGBTQ+, know their identity and are proud of it. Not everyone does and that is okay, exploration is such an important part of finding out who you are. Don’t fear exploring different labels, that doesn’t mean you’re faking it or doing it for attention. It takes everyone time.
Similarly, just because you’ve found a label that suits you – you don’t have to fit into any of the rigid stereotypes associated with those labels. As a lesbian I know I thought I ‘had’ to wear flannels so people would know I was a lesbian. There is no one way to be LGBTQ+, dress how you want I promise you’ll find your people.
You aren’t lying to people if you don’t come out to them straight away.
I felt pressure to tell my friends straight away when I wasn’t ready because I thought I was lying to them about who I was. I was still uncomfortable about who I was, and this has had an impact on my own relationship with being a lesbian.
You aren’t misleading anyone by not telling them you are/ might be LGBTQ+, we’re all on our own journeys towards self-acceptance. It doesn’t matter what age you decide to come out at, there will always be a community waiting for you.
Don’t be scared to call out friends that think its okay to out you, be homophobic or transphobic. People that consider this okay and won’t stop when asked not to, don’t deserve your friendship. You will find other people that love and accept you for who you are. Putting up with individuals like this is not fair on yourself and can hinder your own self-acceptance.
Schools aren’t known for teaching loads about being LGBTQ+, encourage your school to have a more inclusive curriculum or start an LGBTQ+ Society (if you’re in a position to do so).
I highly recommend taking the time to educate yourself on the community’s history, the first pride was a riot started by a black butch lesbian – Storm Delaverie after they experienced police harassment outside the Stonewall Inn. Understanding the strength that comes from being within a community that has never stopped fighting for its right to exist is empowering. Learning about the resistance we have given to the white heteronormative establishment gives me strength. Learn about Magnus Hirschfield, learn about STAR, learn about AIDS.
Its okay to be LGBTQ+
If you’re questioning or still coming to terms with your identity, I think one thing people forget to mention is – it is okay to be LGBTQ+. It’s scary and changes some of the expectations people had for you, we live in an absurd world and there is nothing set in stone. Its up to you to carve out your identity and decide who you are regardless of what others consider to be the ideal path.