It’s hard living in a world where not everyone is loved for who they are. I came out in December, and I am so happy I did because there was a weight that was lifted off my shoulders. It’s nice being able to go around and be true to myself. My identity was hidden for so long that I felt like I couldn’t be who I was because I was going to be judged. Have I been judged since coming out? Yes, there are so many people who don’t agree with who I am, but in the wise words of Lady Gaga, “I was born this way,” and I don’t care what these people think. I am going to be exactly who I am and not change to make other people comfortable.
Since coming out, I have faced a few challenges, and I have to stop and remember a few things. For starters, the public isn’t safe, and some people will treat you like you have a contagious disease. No matter where I go with my girlfriend, people will stare or look with disgust. We have seen parents hide us from their children just because we were holding hands, and we have waited for way too long to be served because our waiter was uncomfortable around us. When will we all stop and think about how this is affecting the LGBTQ+ community?
One of the hardest parts about coming out is how I have had to work ten times harder to make sure the people around me were comfortable — even the people I know I would never see again. I don’t think people realize how hard that is for a person’s mental health. It is exhausting how much we, the LGBTQ+ community, have to make everyone else comfortable. We should feel safe when we are in public, at home, in class, at work and literally anywhere. Why can a man and woman be seen sharing a meal or walking around holding hands, but if it’s two people of the same gender, there is something wrong?
I am so grateful to have a community here at Virginia Tech and the support from my friends at home and here at school, the support from my family and the support from my girlfriend. I don’t know how I would be able to get through all of the challenges without these people. I know this can’t be fixed overnight, but change needs to be seen. Love is love — when will we finally stand with each other instead of against each other?