Pride?

Wrote this ages ago… but it’s that time of year!!  It’s not the cards you’re dealt; it’s how you play them. It was Gay Pride in London this weekend.  It got me thinking: I am not so much proud of what I am, as I should be of who I…

Source: Pride?

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Brighton Pride

Going to Brighton Pride at sixteen was the best thing I could have done.  By then, I had come out.  I wasn’t ashamed of my sexuality- or, at least, not as much as I had been.  But I had a black tunnel where my future should be.  Just as I rarely saw older mixed-race people, it seemed to me that I never saw older lesbians.  When I tried to envision my future, I never got past 24, because that’s the oldest I could imagine being and still being gay.  It’s not that I thought my sexuality would change.  It seemed like one of the few certainties in my life at that time.  It’s just that I couldn’t see it as a thing with a future, or think of myself as a person with a future.

Brighton Pride was revelatory.  I saw families there.  Gay couples with children, straight couples who were proud to bring theirs along.  I saw lesbians of thirty, forty, fifty, sixty.  Gay guys of all ages, too.  I was there with my second proper girlfriend, and we held a rainbow flag.  For maybe the first time, I felt genuinely accepted and understood by all the people around me.

I’m 27 now.  Sometimes I wish I were more “obviously” gay.  I get urges to shave my head or dress boyishly to prove myself.  Part of that is a feeling of wanting to be more visible to other lesbians.  It annoys me that I am so often an “invisible” lesbian.

Part of it is that, when I get older, I want to be able to show that lesbians can, and do, live past 24.  We exist, and continue to.  We grow up, have families or don’t, have partners or don’t, have jobs or don’t.  We are real.

At some point in my life, I would like to work with younger LGBT people.  I would like to say that it’s OK, that there are more people like us, that we do grow into real adults, and that we come in all shapes and sizes, with all kinds of fashion sense.  I would like it if the need to prove these points would become redundant, and young people could accept themselves and envision their futures easily.  But I doubt that the need will disappear any time soon.  I am responsible.

Coming Out

I had an easy time “Coming Out.” Well, I say that. The months building up to it were horrible, a constant thrum of butterflies in my tummy. Every time I spoke I was scared it would be to blurt out “I’m a lesbian!”

But actually coming out? Well I wrote a note, true to form, and left it on my mum’s pillow. The conversation that ensued went roughly like this:

Mum: I got your note.

Me: Uhm yeah.

Mum: Are you sure?

Me: Yeah.

Mum: Did you really think I’d mind?

My dad’s response was much the same. That is a very, very condensed version of the conversation of course, but my basic point is: they were fine, I was lucky. What I would like to be able to say is that everyone has that experience, that it wasn’t “lucky” so much as “standard”. But I know that isn’t the case.

There is a very high rate of suicide attempts among LGBT teens, with around 1 in 4 having tried. Imagine- that is 25%, one quarter, ¼, of all LGBT teens, who make up (going with the 1 in 10 stat, which is a very conservative estimate) 10% of the teen population. My maths is shockingly bad but I can see, quite clearly, that this isn’t right.

The causes are many: family and societal pressure and bullying rate among the highest. And the problem is that, since society does still tend to take a negative rather than a positive view of homosexuality, it is harder for LGBT teens to reach out and ask for help. In a society that casually makes “gay jokes” and derogatory remarks without even meaning to cause any offence, it is incredibly hard to take the step of coming out to someone.

Even with parents as described above, I found the years between 13 and 16 horrible. I think part of my self-harming and early depressions were tied in with the overwhelmingly negative feelings I had around my own sexuality.  This was a couple of years before “you’re so gay” became an insult- it was when there was so much quietness surrounding homosexuality that it felt like a guilty, horrible secret. The contradictions in society are such that I was able to read a teenage magazine and take away from it that “being gay is fine” but “I had better not be gay.” That you can have a gay friend or a gay uncle or a gay sister. You can even have a gay crush! But you can’t be gay yourself, because that’s a whole different ball-park.  I did try telling some friends I “might be bisexual” because that seemed easier, like a half-way out.  And the general response was “eeeww!” and/ or “you’re just saying that to get attention.”

Yet coming out was necessary: until I could say to somebody comfortably that I was a lesbian, I was also unable to say: “I am being laughed at for being gay” or “I just broke up with my girlfriend”. It isn’t that coming out is, in and of itself, a Very Good Thing, but that so much more of our lives is tied up with our sexual identity than we realise.  You don’t just come out once: you are constantly coming out, every single time you introduce a “partner” to someone who doesn’t know, every single time you fill out a bloody form.  That is the extent to which our personal lives are caught up with our orientations.

I wish everybody had parents like mine. I wish everybody had friends like the ones I eventually made. I wish being LGBT didn’t heighten your chances of taking your own life. But it does. And until we can be much more open about what it means to be a young LGB or T person in today’s society, it will continue to do so.

Pride?

A post I wrote quite a while ago. Re-posting because it got a good response, and it was probably one of my favourite things I posted… And, and, and, I have writer’s block. Sigh.

Only See Your Good Side

It’s not the cards you’re dealt; it’s how you play them.

Lezzer

It was Gay Pride in London this weekend.  It got me thinking: I am not so much proud of what I am, as I should be of who I am.  I made a placard, Lesbian Since 1987.  The idea is that being gay, mixed race, bipolar, whatever, are things that come quite naturally to me.  Effortless.  Whereas: I work to be a writer, I train to do half marathons, I have worked my arse off for academic stuff.  Those are acheivements, the things I should be proud of gaining or creating, with, through, or sometimes despite the things that I “am.”  I would rather be proud of who I become, than what I started out as.

So here we go.  I’m on it, peeps!

View original post

Pride?

It’s not the cards you’re dealt; it’s how you play them.

Lezzer

It was Gay Pride in London this weekend.  It got me thinking: I am not so much proud of what I am, as I should be of who I am.  I made a placard, Lesbian Since 1987.  The idea is that being gay, mixed race, bipolar, whatever, are things that come quite naturally to me.  Effortless.  Whereas: I work to be a writer, I train to do half marathons, I have worked my arse off for academic stuff.  Those are acheivements, the things I should be proud of gaining or creating, with, through, or sometimes despite the things that I “am.”  I would rather be proud of who I become, than what I started out as.

So here we go.  I’m on it, peeps!