It was my freshman year in high school when I decided to come out of the “closet”.
It all started when I came home from school enraged. My mother asked me what was wrong. While standing in the kitchen, making my all time favorite sandwich in the whole wide world I told my mother about my day.
“I was in Law and Justice today and those damn rednecks kept coughing the word ‘fag.’ They have been tripping me when I walk down the hall and constantly throwing papers at me that say ‘die faggot’ on the inside.”
My mother didn’t say anything at first. She sat at the table rummaging through her purse and then she looked up at me and said, “Well are you gay?”
I tried to avoid the question but, my mind took over my mouth and I quickly blurted out, “Yes”.
For days my mother didn’t speak to me. I felt alone and I had a lot of anger. Here I was dealing with the crap at school and then a mother at home that doesn’t even acknowledge you exist. A few days went by and I decided I should just get it over with and come out to my friends and peers at school.
I grew up knowing for the longest time that I was different. Dealing with gender identity in a place where it is neither discussed nor understood is a hard concept to grasp as a child. My parents for the longest time did not understand what I was going through. One thing you must realize as an underrepresented individual is that you cannot hate people for their ignorance. I held grudges against society, my parents, my peers, and myself for not knowing any better. Today, I am able to forgive these people, not because of my improved circumstances, but because I accepted myself and learned the power of love.
As a teenager I suffered through constant bullying, harassment, name-calling, stalking, and at one point sexual assault. I hate to tell people around me about these things because I do not need pity concerning issues that have happened in my past. Pity is a meaningless emotion that can do nothing to change the past and I will not be labeled a victim. To be in a state of victimization entails a surrender and acceptance to an uncontrollable situation and I refuse to be let hatred control my life.
I am not going to lie and say that I am a fully healed person because I am not, I consistently have suicidal thoughts on my mind, especially times of great stress. I also deal with the aftermath of my painful past and frequently breakdown and cry when I am triggered into remembrance. As a consequence of my past I also deal with the element of constant fear, fear at the possibility for being targeted by hateful individuals.
A while ago, I learned that my nephew had taken his life because of bullying he was experiencing every day at his school. I unfortunately was not in his life for the past few years because I got divorced and he was on my ex’s side of the family.
I had reached out to my nephew many times prior to my divorce trying to help him overcome the pain he was enduring. I could feel the pain even though he was not sharing it with me. One time when I reached out to him, he gave me a bracelet he had made for me. He was a child of little words so I knew what that bracelet was and why he gave it to me.
I wish things could be different and I wish we could have saved his life together. Unfortunately, society, ignorance and for reasons we will never understand this child took his life. He has touched my life and will continue to be my drive to help others. This is my dedication to you.
I will never forget you! In my life, I have met some wonderful people that have pointed me to volunteer, better my life and try to make a difference. Everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, should have equal rights.
As a straight woman with many friends that are gay, bi, etc. This is my word to you that I am going to join you in this fight for Equality! “I will be your voice since you are gone”
Contemplating Suicide? It’s not the answer
I am a 40 y/o gay male who has survived a difficult childhood. I have horrible childhood memories of being shunned at school because I was different. While I always knew I was different I didn’t understand why for many unhappy years.
During my school years there were many puzzling and hurtful experiences. Once while visiting my grandparents I was happily playing with one of my cousin’s baby dolls. My mother told me I should not be playing with dolls because I was a little boy. She then told me to go in the bathroom, pull down my pants and look for myself. I didn’t understand her obvious displeasure at my innocuous playacting. I was treating the doll gently and lovingly as if it were a real baby. How could this be conceived as being wrong? Were boys not supposed to love? I was so confused and depressed at this time in my life and knew something had to change. Each night I would pray to God and ask him to please help me fit in like all the other kids in the world. Why was I the only kid not fitting in?
Finally in a 6th grade sex education class at school I understood why I was so different from the other children, but this generated fears that you could never imagine. I decided I had to live the rest of my life by living a lie. How could I ever expect anyone to understand my thoughts and concerns if even I couldn’t fully understand them? I went on to Jr. High and made a few friends with a couple of girls. These girls were true friends and would have fought tooth or nail to protect me. No, they didn’t know I was gay and I was not going to risk our friendship by telling them. I was constantly being asked if I were a “FAG” by my other classmates and I would lie. Names such as “FAG”, Fudge packer, sissy boy, mama’s boy, girlie, boy lover, etc. cut through my heart and were difficult to understand, as I had not done anything wrong. I had never been with a boy or man.
When I was going through puberty I realized that instead of girls, I liked boys. I knew it wasn’t normal because I was taught that boys start liking girls and vice versa. For years I thought I was just in a phase and I would start liking girls like “normal” people. I thought there was something wrong with me because I liked boys and I was too afraid to tell anyone what I was going through. I hid the fact that I am gay from my friends, family, coworkers, everyone. They all thought I was straight because I pretended to be like everyone else. I was hiding who I am for fear of being rejected and bullied.
Right before I started college I started seeing a few men using online dating sites. I hid that from my friends and family for the same reasons above, fear of not being accepted. That fear became a pain that kept swelling up inside me. I developed a relationship with a guy my age who will stay nameless. We saw each other for several months during my first semester in college six years ago. One day, he wanted to stop seeing me because he felt guilty for cheating on his girlfriend. I was devastated. To top that, one of my best friends stabbed his dad to death the morning of December 26, 2005. I was in a world of depression. I began cutting my arms because I didn’t care about myself anymore. I didn’t love myself for me being me. I never had high self esteem. I didn’t think I would be able to find another relationship with a different man. One of my best friends was going to jail for the next 20 years. I was thinking of ending all the pain by killing myself. I was still in the closet from my friends and family. I started believing that no one would love me if they found out I am gay.
My story began the day of high school graduation, the proudest moment to a child, but that was the worst day in my life. That is when my parents couldn’t handle the fact that they have a gay son and in due time left me on the streets with nothing but my work clothes and a busted down car. I lived in my car for 2 weeks, till luckily I had a friend whose family was kind enough to take me.
That turned out bad because as I started college and moved into the dorms I developed depression from issues I couldn’t bare to deal with. So I started to drink heavily, smoke and do other drugs. It was an all day and everyday thing for me. It killed the pain. From then my life started to spiral out of control, for the fact that I just didn’t care anymore.
I then moved onto an abusive relationship and was put through even more suffering. This effect lead to some serious attempts to take my life. I tried to drink everything I remembered away until the day my best friend punched me square in the face and I woke up and realized I needed help.
That’s what my best friend gave me – hope and help and support. Now, I write you as a proud gay youth in college and working, clean and sober. I write my story to give hope for those youth struggling and in need of hope… I know the one thing I wanted most was someone to be there and care.
Growing up I was taught that being gay was wrong, that it was a sin and that I wouldn’t be accepted no matter what. I grew up knowing that no matter how hard I tried I wouldn’t fit in to the “normal” Muslim family. I had thoughts of suicide, even attempted it once or twice, but thankfully I didn’t succeed.
I came out to my mother 3 years ago not knowing what to expect, all I knew was that I just couldn’t keep living this double life and lying to the people I care about. I told my mom everything about how I knew that I was gay and about the suicide attempts all because of my self doubt and self hatred. She burst into tears, she grabbed me and took me in her arms and all she managed to say between the sobs and tears was that no matter what and who I love, I am her son and she loves me no matter what and that she will always be there for me.
A lot has changed since then, my mom’s attitude towards homosexuality has completely changed, she asks questions and I answer as truthfully as I can, she accepts who I am and she stands up for me to the family, she told them that if they can’t accept me for who I am then they can’t accept her for being my mother.
I’m writing this because I just want people reading this to know that being gay does not make you less of a person nor does it make you some evil creature born from the pits of hell. Being gay is not a choice that one makes, you are born gay!
This is a letter of hope for the LGBT community out there, there is hope, there are people who care and there are people fighting the battle for EQUALITY. It really does get better…
Take it from me, a young Muslim guy from South Africa who gives a DAMN
I am a human. I am a daughter. I am a cousin. I am a friend. I am a musician. I am a teen. I identify as bisexual. I live in a country where the LGBT lifestyle is frowned upon, but where it is easy to hide your true colors. That only makes it harder to be true to yourself.
Personally, I stand for being true to yourself in every way possible, not just admitting your orientation. I have no issue with my sexuality, I actually embrace it. I find it hard at times when I find myself needing to vent or open up about issues because it is seen as a taboo. Many of my friends seem to be accepting of the lifestyle, but I sometimes ask myself what they would think if they found out they knew someone who was gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender. Even though no one knows about my orientation, I’m sure they have guessed.
I have always been different and I’m sure many have noticed. It used to bother me when people who tease me about it but I feel like I have grown. Everyone needs to know that things get better. I’m aware that many teens have heard this saying several times, but its important for all of them to know it does. I am depressed and have attempted suicide twice. The sad thing is, no one knows any of these things. That is too much pain for anyone to keep to themselves. People should start by making a difference, even if it is at a distance.
I give a damn about all types of bullying… being made fun of for any reason sucks… I grew up poor, abused, neglected. I have decided that I can give a damn and honor the child and young woman that should have existed, that never got the chance because NO one gave a damn when it came to me! SO, I advocate for all teens to give a damn and stop being so hard on each other and themselves! When you try hard to make someone hurt your proving how much you dislike about yourself!
According to TIME:
“In the largest study of its kind, government health officials report that gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers are significantly more likely to engage in risky, unhealthy behaviors — such as smoking, drinking, using drugs, having unprotected sex and contemplating suicide — than their straight peers.
“The new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is based on data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, which were conducted from 2001 to 2009 and involved high-school students in seven states and six large urban school districts (including New York City, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Milwaukee and San Diego). The surveys asked teens about all manner of risky behaviors, including whether they had ever used heroin or tried throwing up to lose weight, their habits regarding unprotected sex, whether they drove after drinking alcohol, whether they wore seatbelts and bike helmets, carried a gun or drank soda every day. The surveys also asked about teens’ sexual orientation.
“What researchers found was that students who identified as being gay, lesbian or bisexual were more likely to report engaging in 70% of all the risk behaviors measured, compared with heterosexual students, particularly behaviors related to violence (like not going to school for fear of personal safety) or to attempted suicide (such as making a suicide plan), tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors and weight management.
“The disparities were dramatic: for example, while 8% to 19% of straight teens reported smoking cigarettes, about 20% to 48% of gay teens reported the same. Bisexual teens reported the highest rates of many risky behaviors, even higher than gay and lesbian students; 33% to 63% of bisexual students reported binge drinking, for instance, compared with up to 16% to 44% of straight students and 17% to 44% of gay students.
“Why? Reported The Advocate:
“Much of what’s ailing these students can be attributed to a lack of ’safe and supportive environments,’ according to the CDC report, which mentioned a survey that found gay and lesbian students feel unsafe while at school.
“The CDC calls for state and local governments to do more — in the form of policies or programs such as gay-straight alliances — to combat what’s happening to gay youth. It also calls for better information. The center’s analysis was based on a common tool for judging the risk of students — called the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System — but in 2009, only 10 states and seven large school districts even asked whether the students were gay or bisexual.”
GET INFORMED, GET INVOLVED
Get informed and get involved. Register to join the campaign and let us know you give a damn about equality.
Spread the word about equality. Watch our damn videos and share them with the people in your life!play
Share your story with us and the people in your life. Tell us why you give a damn about equality!play
Something has to be wrong, when 1 in 7 people who commit suicide is a child. And when suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people aged 10 to 24.