Taking a stand

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In 73 out of 195 countries being in the LGBT+ is a crime, is even punishable by death in the Middle East. June became our country’s official pride month in 1969, and National Gay Pride Day is June 26th, the day same sex marriage became legal in 2015.

How did this come about? Well, under the law of the Supreme Court, gay marriage became legal in all 50 states. Everyone was officially allowed to love everyone. The motto of the movement, love is love, swept the nation by storm, people saying it in acceptance speeches, yelling it in parades, or preaching it from mountain tops, LOVE IS LOVE.

Gay pride month is not just the celebration of being gay. It’s the celebration of acceptance. It took me many years to accept myself, and now I am here writing a story on gay pride. Ever since man walked Earth being a homosexual was not the normal, and it isn’t the normal, which  is what makes it amazing.

The LGBT+ community has been in the closet for hundreds of years until recently. Many people were, and still are, afraid to come out either because of religious persecution, family differences, or just not being accepted. That is why people make a huge deal about this month. Because after many, many, many years, we are finally in a world where people are free to be who they want to be.

However, there are still people who are not as accepting to the concept of free love. Either because of religious beliefs or because it makes them uncomfortable or some other absurd reason. Some people are quiet about their views, however, many are not.

Homophobic slurs to make something or someone feel wrong in a way. Some people have this mentality that calling someone gay is an insult. And it is. If someone is gay, it’s not offensive because that’s simply what they are. But for someone who isn’t, it could be of the biggest insults a person can get, if they let it bother them. For some reason straight people get offended by the idea that their sexuality is at stake when being called gay. Students hear it in the halls, in classrooms, and just about every where in the school. At first I thought to myself, ‘I’m not going to let this bother me, I don’t care that much’. But as I hear it more and more, I realized that the insults are degrading to me and the rest of the LGBT+ community.

I have been in the closet just about my whole life. I knew from a young age that I was bisexual, meaning that I think both genders are equally beautiful. For years on years I got the, “Not to be rude but,” or, “No offense but”, or the classic, “I mean this in the nicest way possible, but are you gay?”

It didn’t bother me when people asked because I understood that people were curious, but I was confused. I would always respond no and get really defensive about it because I dreaded coming out for years. I have a very accepting and open-minded family with whom  I am incredibly grateful for, and the greatest group of friends a person could ask for. However, I was terrified to come out to my school.

I was afraid because I had heard all the rumors about me, and the homophobic slurs used by peers on a daily. So why would middle school me think it was okay to come out when I heard all the negative terms used by students everyday? I didn’t feel welcomed for years. If I am being honest, at some point I got very depressed because I really thought I was going to live my life as a secret gay. I was going to lie to myself and everyone I loved for years. After middle school, I saw the high school had  a more open atmosphere. I gained new friends who gave me the confidence to come out, and be who I wanted to be with no limitations.

My experience coming out to Marion was not as I expected, meaning that in a good way. And I am very lucky and incredibly grateful for that. According to the William Institute at UCLA, 85% of LGBT students have experienced verbal harassment while at school. They also found there to be an estimated amount of 3.2 million kids in the community in our country alone.

No kid should feel the way that I did in middle school, afraid and alone. Being gay should not be an insult, period. Being gay and having pride about it is a celebration, not a degradation of sexuality. Either someone may have religious views or other reasons on why people should not love who they want to, they should not have to use sexuality as a way to demean someone. This To honor all those who have bravely come out, Iowa City will host their annual Gay Pride Parade on June 15th. Anyone and everyone is welcome with open and loving arms.

Livvy Draves, senior, went to this parade last year. “It’s 100% one of the best times you will have, everybody just loves everybody,” she said.

For anyone reading this who is in the closet and or is afraid to come out, here is a whole army of people who are behind you Do not be afraid to be who you are and love you want. After all, love is love is love is love is love.

 

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