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WHY ARE WE SEEING SUCH A“BOOM” IN THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Not so long ago, someone I know commented: “It looks like being gay is the new trend. Young people have nothing better to do.” At that moment, I just stayed quiet because what exactly can you say to a homophobic person who doesn’t want to learn and will dismiss anything you say? Instead, I decided to write an article about it. So I will answer here what I would’ve loved to say that day: “It’s 2022, grow up. Homosexuality has always been a thing. ” Furthermore, let’s talk about the possibilities as to why so many young people are coming out as queer now more than ever.

It’s a fact that homosexuality can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Chinese, to name a few. Basically, there are same-sex relationships documented in every culture. We know about kings who were interested in men such as Alexander the Great (c. 356-c.323 AC) and queer poets such as Sappho (c.630-c.570 BC) with her foundation of queer literature providing us the words lesbian and sapphic. However, it’s also a fact that at some point in history, be it because of the Bible or perhaps due to some other reason based on religious dogma, homosexuality― a term created in the 19th century by a gay man called Karl-Maria Kertbeny― became a taboo, a sin. Yikes! Another upsetting fact is that, even after all this time, being gay is considered to be illegal in some countries and in other places you might be killed just for being queer. However, thanks to the new laws, legal same-sex marriage, social media, movies, books and shows, it feels like now there is more of a safe place to be out and proud. It’s a reality that being LGTBQ+ in the past was more difficult than it is now; discrimination, violence and the lack of accessibility to knowledge caused a lot of damage to the community. As time passes, the world is slowly becoming more inclusive.  

“Youth of the current generation are more open to just being who they are,” said Dr. Army Green, the vice president of research for the Trevor Project. She added that the access to information and language is helping young people understand their identity. According to a Gallup survey data, 1 out of 6 Gen Z adults identify as LGTBQ+. I believe that one of the reasons why so many are feeling more comfortable with their identities, sexualities, and aren’t afraid to explore themselves is because of the easy access to information. Every question that you may have, you can find the answers in seconds thanks to the Internet. Phillip Hammack, a psychology professor and director of the Sexual and Gender Diversity Laboratory at the University of California at Santa Cruz, said: “The rigid lines around gender and sexuality are just opening up for everybody. They’re [young people] leading this revolution, and they’re forcing scientists to take a closer look.”

Another reason might be representation in TV shows and movies. People do not like to feel like they’re alone, or that they’re so different that they’re left out. When you see a character that looks just like you or acts just as you or loves just as you, that’s one of the most exhilarating feelings ever. “That’s me, I’m not alone!” These characters can mean that kids out there who are struggling in their home can have the opportunity to find themselves, and find a community. These characters can mean more acceptance in the new generations. That’s why representation matters. 

When I watch TikToks of teenagers expressing their identities and sexualities as freely as possible, coming out to their parents, being accepted, and showing off their queer relationships, I feel immensely happy. Once, I was watching a video of two girls on a date and one comment caught my attention, because it said something along the lines of: “I’m thankful that young people can be so open about their sexualities, I wish I could’ve had that when I was young. I’m so happy for you.” It broke my heart to think about how many people had to give up their true loves to be with people they didn’t like just so they could be accepted in society, about those who had to hide, about those who are no longer here with us to see the changes. But there’s also hope and pride. As long as we stay loving and stay true to who we are, no one will stop us. That being said, here’s to more inclusive spaces, to more changes and to more acceptance.

Nahiria I. Rivera Dieppa is a student from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. She's studying Creative Writing with a second concentration in Public Relations and Publicity. She loves her books more than anything, and is passionate about music.
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