According to GLAAD’s most recent annual Accelerating Acceptance report, 20% of 18-34 year olds openly identify as LGBT, which is a higher percentage than any other age group surveyed.
I am lucky, as an LGBT teenager myself, to live in a time of more acceptance than there has been in recent years. Society has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. But, that’s not to say being a part of a minority is easy. My own personal experiences with being LGBT haven’t necessarily been positive. As a transgender male, I have struggled to gain the support of my close family members, but I am fortunate in that I have a wonderful, supportive group of friends. I can understand why a lot of people believe there is no longer a need for campaigns and parades for equality – they believe the issues of homophobia and transphobia are too miniscule to have any real effect. I would like to stress, through my own experience as a young LGBT person, that this is not the case. Of course, there have been some amazing steps towards acceptance for everyone to be their authentic selves freely and openly. Yet, there are still a great deal of struggles members of the LGBT community, particularly young people, must face on a daily basis.
It’s always difficult to tell your parents something you’re worried they won’t like, even down to trivial things like asking if you can go to a party at a friend’s house who you know they don’t approve of you hanging out with. If you don’t know what it feels like to have to come out, just imagine that feeling, and then bump it up about a hundred notches. There’s no easy way of doing it, but coming out is something many young LGBT people, including myself, have had to – or are going to – do to quite a few people in their lives. I’m sure it is in the hearts of all the LGBT community that one day there won’t be a need for ‘coming out’ to anyone – people can just be people and that will be okay.
Since coming to realise I’m transgender, I’ve been bombarded with lots of new obstacles that are (or soon will be) a big part of my daily life. One such hurdle I am running towards is my physical transition. I am extremely lucky in that any expenses for me will be covered by the NHS, including HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and top surgery, which involves removing the breast tissue to give me a flat chest. I often lament somewhat about all of the effort I know I’m going to have to go through to align my body with my mind, and yet I’m already excited to be able to finally get to that place and to look back at all I’ve done with pride. I must admit, however, the realisation I’m going to have to jab myself in the leg with a needle fortnightly wasn’t a pleasant one.
Another important aspect of my life that I found myself worrying about was relationships – how would I ever get a girlfriend/boyfriend? I was convinced that any girl would think I was a freak, and any boy would think I was a fake. Fortunately, that’s very far from the case. I’m in a wonderful relationship with an amazing girl and nobody questions us or has anything negative to say. There aren’t only bad experiences to being a young LGBT person, and a normal, happy life is more than possible.
I find it amazing to be a part of such a brilliant, supportive community where everyone has each other’s backs, no matter who you are or where you’re from. It’s a place to seek help when the rest of the world isn’t helping you, and I don’t think I would ever find a community anything close to it. Through the kindness of other LBGT people, I have learnt that it’s okay to be different, and that I should embrace that instead of trying to ignore it.