The Search for Acceptance
Many people in the LGBTQ+ community have faced problems with finding themselves. Everybody has a different story to tell about their journey to find out who they are. These are their stories.
April 28, 2021
The Search for Acceptance; Rowan
Junior Rowan Singer identifies as non-binary and bisexual and uses They/Them pronouns. Non-binary meaning that they don’t gravitate towards identifying as either a boy or girl and bisexual meaning that they are attracted to both guys and girls.
“This isn’t something that just happens once, you kind of come out to everyone you meet. But my two big ones would be my sexuality versus gender, which were different experiences. When I came up with my sexuality, no one really. It’s not like they didn’t care, but like my friends were like, it doesn’t change you as a person, and it literally doesn’t do anything, we could care less if you like girls guys or whatever,” said Singer.
Coming out with your gender? That’s a completely different story.
“When it came to my gender, it was a bit harder, mostly from my parents, which I understand, because for 16 years they’ve known me as their little girl and stuff like that,” said Singer.” It took them a while to not only understand what it was that I was telling them, identify, accept it and realize that like this isn’t just a little phase. It’s not going to go away. It’s not just the odd feeling that I have in my teenage years.“
Bullying is a very real problem for people in the LGBTQ+ community. According to a 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey 33% percent of LGBTQ+ students reporting bullying on school grounds, compared to the 17% of non-LGBTQ+ students.
“I did kind of take it on as almost a shield when I first came out because of the bullying, and I went from, this is just who I am to like to almost letting it be my identity for a bit because when I owned up to it and can like directly stated to people, they would back off,” said Singer. “It is very surreal, how much people care about who you could potentially like, like me potentially liking the same gender or like going off of my biological gender of being female. People thinking that me liking a girl is such a big deal is baffling to me. “
Gender dysphoria is the feeling of distress and discomfort from the difference in one’s biological sex and gender. People who experience it can feel uncomfortable in their bodies and wish to change things so that they can feel welcome being themselves.
For Singer, the dysphoria requires a change of appearance to feel comfortable with themselves.
“Dysphoria is something that the average person will not experience, and I hope most people don’t have to experience it because it’s not a fun thing, but it is something that I deal with. It’s why I have a chest binder to hide my chest so that I feel more comfortable within my own skin.”
People can often become confused when talking to somebody with uncommon pronouns. If you ever get confused, just ask and remember that they will most likely appreciate you trying to recognize them for who they are.
“Don’t use it as a pronoun. I’ve seen a lot of people default to “it” when I say they/them and I’m like, that’s still a person, and then just again, you don’t have to understand something to respect it just because you don’t understand someone identifying as like non-binary or gender fluid or anything like that, or you don’t understand why they would like the same gender doesn’t mean you have to be rude about it or batter them.”
The Search for Acceptance; Berit
Senior Berit Hazleton identifies as queer and non-binary. Queer meaning that they don’t fall under any one sexual orientation, and non-binary meaning that they don’t identify as a boy nor a girl.
For Hazleton, playing the role as someone else to appease others has proven difficult.
“I’m very open about being non-binary. I mean, I go by, they/them pronouns. I kind of have to be, I have to like tell people, I got really done with hiding it. It’s exhausting going somewhere. No, you have to hide it, and pretending to be someone you’re not hurts you as a person. So I stopped doing that around sophomore year,” said Hazleton.
Hazleton faced many instances of bullying from both students and teachers at their old school due to their identity, which caused them to be hesitant to come out here.
“I came out when I was in eighth grade in Texas, which was not a good idea, but after I came out and I originally came out as bisexual, and then a few years, like a year or two later, I was like, no, but, people would stop working with me on projects,” said Hazleton.” I was beaten up once or twice by the football team because they thought it was funny. I would avoid entire places in the school. Like I purposefully not go down hallways. Cause I knew that people would be down there that I wouldn’t be able to go through. So it was a pretty hard time before I moved here.”
“Coming out” here in the Maize community was very different, with teachers and students being far more supportive.
“The second time I came out, which was here, I actually came out because Mr. Rice, my English teacher, the first day of school asked if anyone had any pronouns and I was just like, yeah, me and that was the first time I’d ever like, said it out loud, and I started going completely by they/them pronouns.”
They began to feel more welcome and finally started being open about their identity to everybody.
“It was a nice change to be able to just say, yeah, I’m queer. I’m non-binary I go by they/them pronouns, and if you don’t like that, then great. Don’t talk to me, and making that change was a really important step for me to like, accept myself as a person. I got a bunch of different shirts like gender kills my vibe, and I just kind of, I stopped trying to act feminine if that makes any sense.”
While the Maize district might have been mostly supportive, many others in the world are not as accepting of LGBTQ+ beliefs.
“One of the hardest things I had to come to grips with was that because of who I loved and because of what I identified as people were going to look at me differently and people were going to say things to me that weren’t okay, and it took me a really long time to admit that that was okay because in the end that’s their decision and that’s their choice to act like that,” said Hazleton.
According to Hazleton, an important thing to remember is that you pick who you are. You shouldn’t rush to figure out what you identify as.
“If you think somebody isn’t going to accept you and that’s hard and it’s really hard because my parents didn’t accept me right away. It took them a little bit,” said Hazleton.“ But it takes time for people to come to terms with stuff. So give yourself that time because yeah, if you come up before you’re ready, I’m telling you now you’re gonna suffer from it.”