Over the summer, I had the pleasure of meeting many amazing people from all over the country. Most of these people happened to be a variation of queer. They all live differently to be themselves, to be comfortable and to be safe. These are some of their stories.

Many people live in areas that are accepting to queer youth. Skylar, a gay asexual cisgender female, feels very comfortable. “I’ve been out at school since 8th grade (I’m in 10th now) and I’ve been out to my immediate family for a year or so. Colorado is pretty gay.” Her family is very open and her brother, who is 12 years older, came out to her family when he was in high school.

Liv also is secure in her town in Washington state. A bisexual cisgender female, she explains that, “It doesn’t really phase most people where I’m at. I mean you can’t go a block in the city without seeing, like, five pride flags or safe space signs. It’s a very busy city and I don’t think people see the point in wasting time to get worked up about someone else’s life that doesn’t really concern them.” While out to her family, relatives from other states still aren’t always supportive. “I’m not trying to prove my sexuality to anyone anymore, I just realized that I know I’m gay and it’s not really anybody else’s business as to what that means to me.”

Those who live near big cities on the coast, still aren’t completely comfortable. California native Avery, who’s non-binary and queer, feels “most comfortable at home, in the theater programs I participate in and in public in Berkeley, although even in Berkeley I’m often yelled at by people when I wear my jacket with a queer patch on it.” Avery admits, “I’m a lot less likely to even bring up my gender or pronouns in other places. Although there are definitely times when I don’t feel comfortable doing that in Berkeley either.” Avery thinks their parents were very accepting of their sexuality and gender.

Sabrina, who’s non-binary and pansexual, explains that “at home, I’m closeted for fear of being disowned and in my GSA, I am out in both aspects.” Because of the proximity to New York City, being open about sexuality is accepted in Sabrina’s area. However, “I don’t think there is one specific place for genderqueer people are more accepted and integrated into society, but I definitely feel that the presence of my school’s GSA helps shape the attitude to make Madison, New Jersey a better town.” Sabrina’s parents were not very supportive, and it took time to be where they are now.

Despite Mississippi being “one of the worst places to be right now,” Quintin grew up with a supportive community who “made me less scared to question my identity.” As a post-gender non-binary bisexual, Quintin feels “comfortable in my house, in front of close friends and before my GSA. [But] I don’t feel super comfortable expressing myself before most of my classmates or my community.”

Meanwhile, Christopher from Virginia feels differently. Identifying as a cisgender male, he chooses not to label his sexuality. “I wouldn’t say I’m closeted, I just don’t like discussing it around certain people. I also wouldn’t say I’m “out” either. I don’t believe in coming out. It’s such a stupid concept to me. I think most people are on the spectrum and they don’t say anything about it.” With parents that are supportive and understanding, Christopher explained that his area is referred to as a “liberal bubble” but that he still sees an extreme amount of hate directed towards the LGBTQ community there.

In Chicago, life isn’t difficult. A bisexual cisgender female, Sophia says that “it’s not the most accepting place in the U.S., but Chicago is still a pretty liberal place. I don’t run into a lot of homophobia at home.” While not out to her family, but to her friends, she does wish there is a prominent LGBTQ community. “I’m mostly happy. I like being bi, it’s part of who I am.”

Living in Connecticut, Mia, a pansexual cisgender female, has a supportive community of family and friends. “At my school, my friends and I are very open and it wasn’t until I went to this school that I understood the dimensions of sexuality and gender. And I don’t think I would have been comfortable being my full self if I hadn’t gone to my boarding school.”

“Expressing myself as a LGBT Black woman, while I will always feel beautiful with my pansexual black girl magic, I am also aware that we are one of the most persecuted and underrepresented people in America. I love my blackness but there is a large homophobic stigma around the black community,” said Mia.

Taylor, a bisexual cisgender female, has a different position. “At home, it’s pretty uncomfortable because my parents don’t believe in bisexuality and find it offensive to actual gay people, they are gay.” While she does have supportive friends, it still is a struggle for her. “My parents sheltered me from the atrocities of hatred to LGBTQIA+ so I always feel like I could easily be whatever I felt like, but now I’m confused because of my parents’ opinions on bisexuality.”

Most LGBT+ youth in America have a supportive network, whether that be family or friends. Despite knowing their sexuality and gender, they still are trying to be happy and comfortable with themselves. There are other factors that could affect their views of themselves, but in the end it is their thoughts and beliefs that make them who they are.

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