LGBT+ and Proud - Advice from Grads

ncs 4/02/2019
Stories from our grads for LGBTQ+ History Month

February is LGBT+ History Month! You might well ask, why do we still need this? Hasn’t society moved on? Surely everyone understands love is a beautiful thing, in all its amazing forms?

Sadly, young LGBT+ people still face discrimination, abuse and are more susceptible to mental health issues as a result. But the LGBT+ community are resilient and loving, and growing visibility and acceptance in the mainstream means fewer young people have to suffer with stigma. 

If you’re LGBT+, want to support an LGBT+ friend or relative, or are figuring out where you fit in, check out what some of our incredible LGBT+ grads have to say about their own stories, what this month means to them and what their hopes are for the future.

Kaitlyn, 18

Tell us about your journey as an LGBT+ person

Living in a society filled with heterosexual expectations brings on a whole world of hurt for LGBT+ people. Growing up, TV shows with romantic stories brought me confusion, rather than joy. Luckily, I found LGBT+ YouTubers talking about their journeys and this changed my entire experience of life. I began to feel more comfortable with who I was. To this day, I find myself overwhelmed with happiness and love for who I am and my ability to openly identify as a lesbian.

What does LGBT+ History Month mean to you?

LGBT+ History Month gives me a time to feel proud of who I am and the strong people who persevered through all of the hate within their generations. These people are why I am able to hold my girlfriend’s hand in public; they were the catalyst for change. LGBT+ History Month allows us to look back and be inspired by the strength it takes to speak out for what you believe in.

What do you hope for your future as an LGBT+ person?

My main hope for the future is that ‘gay marriage’ will just become ‘marriage’. I also hope our education system becomes way more inclusive. Sex education should be broader and include more gender representation. Finally, I just want to see the world become a much more accepting place where everyone can seek the help they need and live happy lives.

Matthew, 17

Tell us about your journey as an LGBT+ person

I knew when I was ten. Being in education while being out as LGBT+ was tough! The constant prejudice I experienced during my secondary school life was saddening. All in all though, I am happy to be me, and my past experiences have made me who I am today.

What does LGBT+ History Month mean to you?

LGBT+ Month is a long celebration of all things LGBTTQQIAAP+. It means so much to know people have been fighting for my rights, to be who I am, for generations. For this reason, I go to as many Prides as possible, to show we are still fighting and proud to be who we are. 

What do you hope for your future as an LGBT+ person?

My future as part of the LGBT+ community is going to be a brilliant one. One day, I hope I’ll be able to walk down the street hand-in-hand with my soulmate, without fear. I know there’ll come a time when we won’t need to fight anymore – we will have equality!

Scarlett, 16

Tell us about your journey as an LGBT+ person

I first realised I was queer when I was in Year 8. I had problems with my mental health, but came out the same year and tried a bunch of labels before settling on one that really fits with how I feel – bisexual. 

As soon as I accepted myself for who I was, my mental health started improving, and a big part of that was being open about it when talking to others. I've now been out as bisexual for three years, and feel so much more comfortable in myself than I ever have before.

What does LGBT+ History Month mean to you?

LGBT+ month means a lot to me! I think it's important to pay homage to the people who walked so we can run, who fought every day of their life so we can live our lives much more freely than they ever could. 

What do you hope for your future as an LGBT+ person?

I hope that everybody of every sexuality will be truly equal. This is obviously no easy feat, but I think small things like more inclusive sex education and more representation in the media are a good way to start.

James, 19

Tell us about your journey as an LGBT+ person

I knew I didn’t feel right when I was younger, but didn’t know why. As I grew up, I started to find out new things and realise I was trans. It was and still is hard knowing you’re different, but understanding there’s people out there that want to help you and have gone through the same thing gives you hope. It’ll always be tough but at the end of the day it’s worth it.

What does LGBT+ History Month mean to you?

It’s a time to celebrate the accomplishments LGBT+ people have achieved and appreciate how far we’ve come. It’s a time to realise how hard things were and the sacrifices people have made.

What do you hope for your future as an LGBT+ person?

I hope people can live as they want and for it not to be a big deal to come out. I’d hope that everyone could feel safe being who they want to be.

Sapph, 16

Tell us about your journey as an LGBT+ person

I feel lesbianism is hugely underrepresented by film and media. Growing up, I never saw a lesbian character who was realistic enough for me to identify with, and that brought a sense of shame and isolation. 

‘Coming out’ is also so romanticised by the film industry that some young people can feel pressured to ‘come out’ – and I feel I was too. This put me in a dangerous situation, although it did force me to become the mature young woman I am proud to call myself today. 

To everyone whose ‘coming out’ was not a positive experience, please know that every problem will have its place in the future you create, and the most genuine people in your life are the friends who’ll love you unconditionally.

What does LGBT+ History Month mean to you?

Though our society may seem progressive, many still argue they simply 'don't agree’ with our lifestyle. LGBT+ History Month emphasises that people who don't identify as cisgender and heterosexual have always existed, and always will. It allows LGBT+ people to know they are valid. 

I find many people often confuse what they don't like with what shouldn't happen. Don't like same-sex marriage? Don't marry someone who's the same sex as you. Nobody is forcing straight people to change their lifestyle; they are only asking to acknowledge that lifestyles exist which differ from their own. 

What do you hope for your future as an LGBT+ person?

I hope for the normalisation of non-binary identities, for example gender-fluidity. In my head, I see an idyllic world where children do not need to 'come out’ to their parents, as the idea of cisgender-heterosexuality as normality would be removed. 

The future is only what we make of it, and half the battle is letting people know you are just as entitled as them to have a say in how we shape it.

You can find out more about LGBT+ History Month here, and about some inspirational LGBT+ heroes here. If you need support on your journey, you can contact the LGBT+ Switchboard or use the resources available on the Stonewall website