PROGRESS When it first hit me in 7th grade, I think I actually cried. Before that, I had been able to play it off as not knowing. But now? No. There was absolutely no denying it. I wasn't straight. Granted, I wasn't a lesbian either. Perhaps, that was the worst part at the time. My mother had told me a few years before that there wasn't just straight people. But once she'd gotten past monosexual people, her tone was vaguely disapproving. "There are some people who just can't seem to pick one". "There are some people that for whatever reason, it doesn't matter? I have no clue why it doesn't matter". It might've been that, paired with the girl's reaction, that made me take the realization so negatively. Not much could've made the realization worse for me, my mother's wording on the topic prior to me forming a crush on an extremely homophobic girl? Not a very pleasant combination. I hated the fact for a good while. Maybe a couple months? Maybe about a year? I can't say. After that, I lost a friend who couldn't come to terms with the fact that, no, I wasn't interested in her. Looking back on it, I kind of thought it was my fault, for being (by my assumptions at the time) bisexual. If I wasn't into girls, she wouldn't have any reason to be angry with me! I generally made a point of avoiding eye-contact with other girls I found attractive, and steering clear of the girl who made me come to terms with it at all costs. In short, I guess one might say I was ashamed even if I wouldn't admit it.
Today I'm in 10th grade. I'm a fifteen year old girl who, while not completely out and keeps it as more of a casual thing, accepts that I do, and always will, be attracted to people regardless of sex and/or gender. Sexually attracted? I haven't gotten that part down yet. But that's okay. I need to accept myself before I can smack a label on myself, don't I? At least I've finally gotten past step one. After hidden shame, general uncomfortableness, and awkwardness when the topic of non-straight people came up, I think I've finally passed step one. All of my friends know, and I'm pretty sure that, while I heavily hint at it instead of having came right out and said it, a majority of my family does to. My father recently started saying 'them' instead of 'him' in conversations pertaining to the person I might potentially wind up with. It's been slow in terms of progress, but it's been made. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to put it into words one day in front of my family instead of simply hinting. If you'd have told me this in 7th grade, I wouldn't have believed you, but it gets better. Sometimes it takes a while, a long while, maybe years even, but it does get better.
MOB MENTALITY As a bisexual person, I have very frequently been faced with a disappointing facet of the most common breed of discrimination against members of the LGBT community. The cause of such general stigma is very rarely based on personal experience. Akin to discrimination based on race, religion, or politics, the root of ill will is not to be found in this generation. Or the one before us. They operate based on precedents formed long before any living person drew breathe and was presented with these differences. I have looked at a mob of people as they repeated long since outdated slogans and phrases promising pain and damnation to gays and lesbians- every now and then one of them would even point at me. I’d like to attribute it to my natural ability to draw criticism from people I’d be offended to be liked by, but my rainbow-colored feather boa, impractical ‘PRIDE’ sunglasses, stain-free pink polo shirt, and LGBT flag separated me from the observers not sporting apparel quite as fabulous as mine. I was not hurt by their hatred because I have seen it take many forms, and know it will dawn many more guises before it is ever ended. They are legion, for they are generic. Those people probably didn’t come to their conclusions about gay and lesbian people themselves- in fact I imagine all of them in some form or another were given these ideas right along with their pacifiers.
However, the point of this story is not so much about those hateful people with cheap signs that so often contain grammatical errors, as something that’s been troubling me for quite a while. What might that be? Some time ago, as this summer was drawing dangerously close to its start rather than its end, I was trying to pay attention to test material in my Latin class. I can’t say I recall the class all that well, but I do remember one particular moment very well now. At some point the class had stopped chatting amongst themselves quite suddenly, as everyone’s attention was directed to my teacher. He was standing in front of a student’s desk, looking at the boy occupying it with a quite unreadable expression. After a brief interrogation, the boy admitted to calling another student gay but a minute ago. At that, several glares made their way to this boy- who I had never met. The teacher pointed out that he could send him to the principal’s office for his transgression, and all at once most of the class urged the teacher to do so. It quickly became a crude example of mob mentality dictating how someone was going to be treated for something they didn’t like. I found this far too familiar for my liking. Besides, I had been called far worse things without someone ever being punished. I didn’t want a genuinely harmless off-the-cuff remark to be the basis for a metaphorical lynching. So, I did something I wasn’t expecting to do. I outed myself to the entire class by pointing out that, as a bisexual person, I felt that the situation was unfair for the boy and that being called out by the whole class was possibly more than enough. The looks I got were both empowering and mortifying. I got him off the hook, much to his visible relief.
The moral of the story? To all my beloved youths who are not yet fully set in their ways, please do be careful not to become the boot in your face. Even if yours will be much better polished.
Coming Out Set Me Free
Ever since I was about 9 I always had thoughts of being gay. Dreams. Attraction to same sex. But never felt comfortable enough to tell people. I was molested by someone close to my family and blamed that for my curiosities. but it took over 6 years, and being put into foster care at 12, to finally realize I deserve to be happy. Deserve that I need to be myself and show people I'm strong enough to admit it and show who I really am.. after I "came out" I felt relieved and happy. But moving around place to place in foster care makes me battle new challenges of gettin acceptance from peers and people around me. But through everything I've been through I never regret for one day being openly gay. It set me free.
Only One Friend Supports Me
I am beginning to understand who I am for the first time in my life.I have always been attracted to girls since puberty,but I was so afraid of what my very religious friends would think so I hid myself.I went out with boys and tried to pretend like I was "normal",but it just felt so wrong and I couldn't do it anymore.So I told my best friends this year and the reaction was not the best.They pretty much dis-owned me and said things like,"God's love can make you better than this." But that's not what I wanted to hear,I just wanted some support or acceptance. I think I am already good! But despite that I still have one of my best friends and she is the only friend I have supporting me.She is the only reason I don't feel so alone.But still I wanted to meet others like me.I was okay for awhile,but then others were finding out at school and I was getting the cold shoulder from a lot of kids and I was feeling really bad,so I got a shrink and she told me about Kaleidoscope,so I'm going tomorrow. I'm excited!It's a start.
Don't Give In
Don't give in; what ever you do, don't suppress your true feelings. Don't let anybody say that this isn't normal. What you could say to them is, "What is normal anyways? Who's to say that I'm normal and your the one who's not?" ... Well that's what i could have said to my mom. I've had to learn that the hard way.About two years ago, I was so tired of mom saying good son, or that's my little man; I emailed her a letter saying exactly what I thought of my self, and who I am. (it's hard bringing up that memory.) You know, all she did was try to convince me that I was a boy. Well of course physically I was, but my heart and soul tell me quite the opposite. After that I mentally suppressed my heart from that notion, but my heart continued to tell me the truth. Every night since then I was living my true self in a fictional dreamworld.On a better note, mom's letting me grow out my hair. I guess next time I should heed my advice.thanks for reading this. Jerry (Tech)
Came Out as Trans in 10th Grade
I was in the 10th grade when I finally came to the conclusion that I was transgender. It was the scariest time of my life. I wondered whether my friends were going to be OK with me. We had never really talked about the subject. I had been dressing for about 3 years, and no one knew. I did it when I was alone. My mom isn’t home much. I told my friend Kristen that I was bi and she was totally cool about it. The next thing I told her came as sort of a shock. She was quiet over the phone and didn't say much after that. The next day at school, I told her I wanted to talk to her at lunch. We did. I said to her that I wanted her to know everything. I thought that would make me feel better. She agreed. The next day at school everything was different. You could tell she like didn't want to be around me. We didn't talk for about three months. I tried to pretend that it didn't matter to me, that I still had my other friends to talk to. I wished I was dead and started doing crazy things like using and drinking. I’d go to clubs all the time. One night I accidentally drank too much and had to have my stomach pumped. That’s when I got a shrink. She told me about Kaleidoscope. I never knew there were other people like me. I started going there and I’ve been feeling better about life. A couple weeks ago Kristen came up to me at lunch. I almost threw up. I was afraid of what she’d say. I turned and looked at her and started crying. She hugged me and said she needed time. She said she wasn't like that but she was still my best friend. She had suspected it through my obsession with RuPaul. It turns out that she had asked for information from Kaleidoscope and did a lot of reading. She understands me better now, and goes with me to the Center sometimes. I'm trying to decide about coming out to my mom and my dad. They're divorced since my 6th grade year so I’m closer to my mom. My counselor thinks I might need to wait a while. My parents have strong beliefs about certain stuff. I’m happy everyone at Kaleidoscope is there for me. —Cory, 17
Mom Thinks I'm Sick
I don't know if this is the appropriate thing to write, so here goes. I just came out to my parents last month. Needless to say they didn’t take it well. I’ve been spending the last few years coming to grips with who I am and feeling okay about myself. Now in one conversation with them, my parents have made me depressed, ashamed and suicidal. I see the hurt in their eyes and I just want to make it go away. They wanted me to see a shrink, to find my 'true' sexuality. I felt like if I go I'm admitting I’m 'sick' and need help. If I didn’t then I would hurt them more. School has been a waste. I can’t concentrate. My mom told her friend who told her son, now everyone at school knows. They all talk behind my back. Sometimes I get hit. I can’t even think. The only good thing is that my teacher told me about Kaleidoscope. Right now it’s the only place I feel like I’m me. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. —Lisa,15
My Dad Asked Me...
I have grown up in a very conservative Baptist family. I am also one of the few black people at my suburban school. I was always an outsider in school: I dressed differently, I ate different food and I had different beliefs. One day I heard about another guy in 10th grade who was a “fag”. I remember thinking about what that meant, and whether or not I might be one too. We ended up meeting and talked a little bit. A few days later after school he asked me to walk with him to a friend’s house. On the way it started to rain so we waited under the overpass. We were hanging out talking when he kissed me. I wasn’t exactly naïve, I knew that I liked him and I knew that I enjoyed his kiss… so when he took my hand as we walked back and asked if I would be his boyfriend I said yes. That’s how I started coming out to people. I’d tell them that I “met someone” and when they asked what her name was I replied with his name. Eventually I found out about Kaleidoscope, and we started going there. It ended up that our relationship only lasted a couple months, but by then I had met a lot of new friends I could talk to. Then one morning a few months ago my dad came into the room as I was just getting up. We started talking, and at some point in the conversation he asked about a “friend” of mine who had been over to our house for dinner. “Does he have a girlfriend?” he inquired. “No” I said. “Does he have a boyfriend?” he joked. To which I replied, “Uh… yeah.” “Is it you?” he demanded. “Yes.” The silence that followed seemed to last forever. I’ll never forget the look on his face. “Why are you looking at me like I’m a stranger?” was all I could think to say. He simply said “you are” and left my room. I was in complete shock. Even though we had talked at Kaleidoscope about whether I would come out to any of my family, I still had no idea what to do. I cried for a while, feeling scared and ashamed. All I knew was that I didn’t feel safe staying in my house with my father. Somehow I made it to school and called my Grandma. Thankfully she was much more supportive. She drove me to Kaleidoscope after school and we all talked there. I stay with her now. I’m okay and I still go the same school and Kaleidoscope. —LeDante, 17
Kaleidoscope Youth Center PO Box 8104 Columbus, Ohio 43201 (614) 294-5437
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