The Linster: This subject is very close to my heart for reasons I wrote about at OneMoreLesbian. So hop over to that, then keep this phrase close: “Can you wait until Friday?”
Every day is new — give yourself another day. Things really do get better – I promise.
Grace Chu: When I was a teen — 13 or 14 — I didn’t believe that a day would come when I wouldn’t have to go to school again. Sure, I knew what the term "graduation" meant, but it was as remote and abstract to me as, say, "winning Powerball" or "finding a leprechaun." It seemed so far away that it seemed fictional. For me, school was my life. Having to see the same classmates, many of whom were degenerates and possibly criminals, for a very long time — possibly forever — seemed like my destiny.
I graduated. And then I went to high school, which segregated the AP class students from everyone else, so everyone around me was gunning to get out of the small town in the south too. It got better. And then I threw myself into my coursework and extracurricular activities to avoid my hardass disciplinarian parents so I could get into a good school far, far away where I could have some semblance of freedom. I didn’t think the constant browbeating and maximum security prison-like home environment would end.
Four years later I was in New England having a ton of fun in a very good school full of hyperactive nerds and geeks. I fit in. It was terrific. It got better. It’s even better now. I live in New York City. I have good friends. I can walk down the street and have a freshly made sandwich at 3 a.m. Every possible beer in the world is available in this city, including German rauchbier. I don’t sleep on a futon anymore. Life is excellent.
Now I can’t even remember the names of my junior high school classmates. I don’t remember the teachers. I don’t remember much of anything from that period. There are distant memories of two bullies who would heckle me in the hallway, but those memories are too fuzzy for me to talk about in length.
It will happen to you too. Hang in there. It gets better.
Megan Hargroder: My advice for teens dealing with bullying: Get online. The internet was my sole refuge as a queer teenager in a small, conservative town. There are countless blogs and forums with people just like you, talking about what they’re going through. Make friends with these people; support them and let them support you. Being gay and being harassed for it is not your entire life; focus on what you love and be great at it.
Karman Kregloe: When Trish sent around this topic suggestion, my first thought was of what I would like to be able to tell my younger self if I could climb into a time machine for a brief visit with her (really brief, then get me OUT of there!).
I knew I was gay when I was really young, and before I had the language to articulate the difference that I felt. There weren’t many out "role models" in the public eye at the time, and those that I presumed were gay (and later had it confirmed) weren’t women I wanted to be like or even women I found attractive. I felt very alone and different in my small town world, and couldn’t imagine there was anyone else like me or for me.
Of course I was wrong, and that’s what I wish someone could have told me when I was a youngster/teenager. So I would say the same thing now to any young lesbian who is struggling with being gay and/or being harassed or threatened about it. You aren’t alone, there a lot of other people like you and you will find them. They will become your second family and they will help you figure out how to be you in the world. These people are smart, interesting and throw really good parties. There’s nothing "wrong" with you. The thing that makes you different is the thing that makes you spectacular. Also, you will find someone to date, love, maybe even marry, if that’s your thing. You will probably find quite a few of them, and later, they will probably all have dated each other. But that’s a different story. The point is that regardless of what homophobic people might want you to think, or what you hardly ever see represented in the media, LGBTQ people can live happy, exciting and fulfilling lives crammed with all of the same milestones, accomplishments and love that straight people experience. Maybe even more!
If you can get through this period in which you don’t have the financial freedom or personal autonomy to fully be yourself, hang in there. That time will come, and the life you make will have been worth the wait.