I won’t be getting too personal in this article, and I won’t share my experience too much, either. This topic is very sensitive to me, and I’ve hesitated a lot before writing this. However, I want to help people who might be in the same situation as me, because I know how painful it is to be unable to be completely yourself around the people that are supposed to love you the most.
I grew up in a big Christian family. Although I love them very much, their beliefs and opinions about the LGBT+ community have caused me insecurities and a lot of self-hate growing up. It could be worse, I know it. If I came out to my mother, I don’t think she would kick me out of my house – and she would never beat me up, either. But I have an intense fear that she would carry this like a burden and make me feel guilty about it. She’d feel ashamed at family get-togethers, because the only “weird” child in the family would be hers. And all this because of apparently, God hates me.
The impact that religion has on people can be so toxic. While I try to respect other people’s religions as much as possible, I believe some lines cannot be crossed. Using your religion as an excuse for your intolerance is complete hypocrisy and is utterly disgusting. You can’t say you don’t tolerate gay people because your religion is against it, because face it – you’re just homophobic. Truth is, people are terrified of what they don’t understand, and religion is a very convenient way to excuse your homophobia. But it is very dangerous : many religious people hide their true sexuality, because they are afraid that there is something wrong with them.
I’m an atheist, and I don’t know much about religion. However, I do know that most religions, if not all of them, preach peace, tolerance and acceptance of others. And if there really is a God out there, I’m pretty sure they love all of their children.
But I’m not here to try and reason with bigots. If you’re queer and are part of a religious family, you know how difficult it is. You tend to hate yourself, you have so many insecurities. You often wonder why you’re this way, and why you can’t be like the other kids in your family. The straight ones. The normal ones. Those who don’t have to struggle and hide a part of themselves from everyone else. It’s a horrible feeling, and you can’t even try to change the beliefs of the people who don’t want to accept you. Most of the time, these opinions are so deep in them that nothing you can say will change their opinion about your sexuality or gender. It’s sad, and very harsh to hear, but unfortunately it’s the truth.
But if you are in this situation, here is a bit of advice that could help you cope with it. First, you need to understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you who are. This is probably the hardest part. I cannot count how many times I’ve felt like a monster, like a freak because I didn’t have a “normal” sexuality. But there is no normality. There is nothing wrong with identifying with another gender or sexuality as the one your family wants you to identify with. You are a complete, valid and wonderful person – no matter what close-minded religious people say. Your identity is valid, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with who you are. I know this can be hard to realise : I still struggle with that, even though I’ve been out to my friends for over a year now. Another thing you can do is get in touch with other LGBT+ teens that are going through the same thing as you, for example via social media like Twitter, Tumblr, etc. That way, you can support each other, and you will know that you are not alone in your battle.
But sometimes, being at peace with yourself is not enough. If you feel like you are in an unsafe environment, and your family is threatening or abusing you, you need to get out of here as soon as you can. If you are a minor, you need to seek help from adults that will protect you (friends’ parents, teachers, a therapist, authorities,…) and get you away from your abusive home.
If you don’t have enough money to get out of your situation, collecting funds can be a good solution. A lot of people on Twitter have done this, and you’ll be surprised by how many people want to help LGBT+ youth in need. One last important thing : if you feel like committing suicide, there are emergency hotlines in most countries that can help you with your situation and talk you out of it. Here is a link for a LGBT+ helpline in the US. I can’t stress this enough : there are professionals out there who are available to help you, and you deserve to get help. Being in a toxic home who doesn’t accept you as you are is terrible, but there are ways to get out of it.
The thing to remember is that you are not alone, and more importantly, that you are normal. The only people that have a problem are the bigots that oppress us. They are the freaks, not us. You deserve to get out of this situation and live a happy, wonderful life. And in the meantime, hang in there. You are strong, wonderful, and valid, no matter what sexuality or gender you identify with.