Bridget McManus: Dear Gay Youth, I know sometimes life can be extra difficult for us in the LGBT community. But I want you to know that I love you and know what you’re going through. As a teen I was bullied because I am gay, I lost friends because I am gay and for a short period of time my own mother didn’t speak to me because I am gay. I, myself, called a suicide hotline during my freshmen year of college because I needed help and felt so alone. I was lucky enough to get that help and with it I realized that no one is allowed to take my power. I promise you that life does get so much better, so never give up.
Each of you are special and you are greatly need on this earth to help build the future of the LGBT community. If you are ever feeling lost and want to harm yourself, tell someone. There are tremendous organizations that want to help you. There are LGBT centers throughout the country, there are suicide hotlines, there are online communities such as the lesbian website AfterEllen.com (the gay brother site is called AfterElton.com)
Thirteen years ago, I felt lost and today I am married to a terrific woman, my sister (who is also gay) is married to a terrific woman and my family is beyond supportive and loves me and has no issue with me being gay. I am a success story and proof that being gay is a great gift.
Dara Nai-bad machine: During my tenure with AfterEllen, and especially when "We’re Getting Nowhere" and "Dara and Karman’s Hitlist" were in production, I have met many amazing readers and viewers. Some, especially younger fans, have shared their questions and concerns about coming out. And the first sentence out of my mouth has always been, "It gets better." The second is usually, "No, I don’t know Tegan and Sara."
We say, "It gets better," because it’s mostly true. Well, that’s all good and happy as a pocket full of rainbows, but until then, what? What do we do while wait for laws to change, for society to evolve, for a film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I’m no expert, but I think the answer might be: Do the best you can. If you’re courageous, speak out. If you hate your small town, plot your escape. If you’re ambitious, study hard and be successful. Nothing pisses off conservatives like smart, successful gay people. And if you’re gorgeous and rich, send me your number. Not for me. For a friend.
I have faith we all find our way because we’re awesome and the only thing constant is change. And apparently, The Real L Word. Time is going to go by anyway; what are you going to do with it? In conclusion, be patient, remember to have fun, and if you’re really lucky, it’ll get so much better, someday you might find yourself sitting next to Kristen Stewart and Joan Jett, asking them questions about kissing girls.
Trish Bendix: I have a secret to tell you: I love being gay. I feel privileged to be a lesbian. Seriously, I can’t even imagine being straight. I think I’d be super boring. I once had a friend that, when she came around me and all my fabulous lesbian pals, would say “Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean that your better than me!” Of course she was joking, but she could see it: Being queer is cool.
When you think of the tastemakers and all the amazingly creative people that ever been in this world, they are the ones that have dabbled in, been rumored to, or have fully committed to being gay: from Virginia Woolf to Frida Kahlo to Ellen DeGeneres. So one piece of advice: Own it. Live it. Love it. If someone calls you a dyke, say “Wow, you are master of stating the obvious!” Promptly direct them to the closest anti-discrimination act that exists in your school, town, city, state, workplace and fold your arms sassily.
Being gay isn’t just OK; it’s awesome. Embrace it. And something I always keep with me: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." — Eleanor Roosevelt.
We know we’re not the only ones with advice for young gay women. Please, readers, offer yours below.