A friend shared this YouTube video with me today. While I deeply wish that we lived in a world where these types of speeches didn't have to happen, I'm am so inspired to know that there are youth out there like her. This young woman, Kayla, is articulate, passionate, and heart-breaking to watch. I have no doubt that (if she chooses to) she will help to change the world. Her struggle with self-realization, discovering of community, fear of future, and desire to love freely is something that strongly resonates with me. I went through a similar process in high school before ending up in a position much like her: being an outspoken advocate to my peers and the larger community through sharing my personal story. Even still, as much as I've grown into my self over the past 8 years, I still struggle with some of these factors.
Watching the video inspired me to pull out my old high school journal. While there are many pieces of writing touching on my evolving sense of sexual identity, there is one particular piece that strikes a nerve for me. It so strongly reminds me of who I was at 16 along with my fears at the time. It gives perspective on how far I've come, and also kind of excites me to see what changes the future bring.
Written at 16 (in Fall 2000):
"To be scared of the truth, that is only normal right? But what if the truth can change things? What if it changes the way people see you? The words that people use to describe you? What if it changes how people look at you? Or how they touch you? And does it really change things this much, or something you just fear. What if your initial instinct is wrong, and after all the trouble you are only 'normal'?
You see, it has been a big summer for me. A summer of self discovery and of experimenting. A summer of pushing the limits I had already set up for myself and of testing new unguided territories. But the summer has quickly ended leaving me uncertain and in new worlds. For the first time in my life I have a girlfriend when all I have ever imagined were boys. I'm now explaining to trusting friends that I am Gay, something that I'm not even sure of for myself. They all react the same way though; they all told me that they already knew, which only leads me to question myself more.
But summer has ended, and to go back to my old ways of life isn't as easy as I had hoped. What if people know? Will it change the way they see me? I'm used to hugging my friends and kissing them on the cheeks, will that stop? Would the people I'm used to cuddling with at [youth group] events be scared away if they knew the truth? It scares me, why wouldn't it scare them?
I know [youth group] is supposed to be a safe and accepting environment but when people use terminology like 'oh, that is so gay' and when they address people as 'fags' for being outcasts, how am I supposed to know what affect it would have on the way I am treated. And what happens when everyone is either hooking up or talking about their relationships at home, am I supposed to say 'yeah, I have a girlfriend' and well, come out of the closet to people I don't know so well when I'm not even sure if I'm in the closet?
But like everything else time will tell. The event will come and go and people will probably never find out. I'll hug and cuddle and just wonder what they would think if they knew the truth, and I will wrestle with the thought of being Gay in my own mind. In the end I will fall in love with the person I fall in love with, not with the sex of the person, and feel foolish because I pus so much time into trying to put labels to feelings that shouldn't always be defined."