Here's why being LGBTQIA+ can be challenging, even in 2020

I grew up in a progressive family and attended a liberal and accepting school for most of my life. There was even a joke at my high school that it was easier to be gay than conservative. I had gay friends and I was always told it was okay. Despite all this, my self realization process began as more of a depressive episode that I didn’t quite understand. I was fifteen and crying at everything and pretty much trying to convince myself that I was straight and that I had made everything up in my head. But every online quiz told me differently (lol), and, in all seriousness, I knew I would eventually have to live my truth if I wanted to be happy. 

Luckily, within a year or so, with the help of friends and family, I came to realize how happy I was to be me: a bisexual teen. I bought pride gear, posted about it on instagram, came out to a lot of my friends and family, and felt pretty stable in my identity. I felt embraced by most people in my life and came to not care so much about the people that didn’t accept me.

As I got older, some of my friends came out as part of the LGBTQIA+ community too. When I came to college, I met even more people, to the point where it felt like more of the “norm” than being straight. I fully thought I had reached a point in my life where nothing could make me doubt my identity; surely, four years later, it wouldn’t be a problem. But, unfortunately, as I’m learning in social psychology, our internal biases are formed from a young age and take a lot to unravel, no matter how badly we want to. Even the ones about our own identities. 

Despite being attracted to both men and women, I had only dated men until this past summer. Then I started dating the most wonderful, beautiful, kind, smart, funny woman and it almost felt like a re-coming out process, to both myself and to others. It was one thing to state you were attracted to girls and another thing to date them, and I think that’s something I hadn’t quite processed. This time, however, there was no crying or sadness. Only excitement about what was to come, and a little bit of anxiety that people around me wouldn’t support me in something that makes me so happy. 

It’s the little things, like hesitating to say “my girlfriend” when talking to a new friend or stranger. It’s watching movies and not seeing yourself represented as much and wondering if that’s okay. It’s having a president that doesn’t recognize you. It’s that feeling inside your stomach that you get when you’re trying to gauge a situation or someone’s reaction. 

But dating a girl is so much more than the scary moments that society has created. It’s sharing clothes, music, stories, phone calls, holding hands, and celebrating life with someone that cares about you and supports you. It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me and it’s shaped me into who I am, and I wouldn’t change a thing!