If Not For My Middle School Bullies, I Probably Would Have Never Come Out

To The Bullies Who Called Me A Lesbian In Middle School, Thank You For Helping Me Come Out To The World

You weren't completely right, but your constant ridicule helped me discover who I truly was.

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Seventh grade was pure hell. It was never physical, but being a book-loving teacher's pet made me the perfect target for bullying. I'll always remember how my classmates called me "child murderer" after bringing "Suffer the Children" by John Saul to school, and the constant jokes about the unibrow I began to grow will always stick with me. I'll always be insecure about those things, but there was one other thing that they all subjected me to.

I remember it well. We were walking from art class to math, and Esmeralda was laughing with her friends. She turned to me and called me a lesbian, and it hurt more than anything else I had ever been called.

It was shortly before the Obama era, when LGBT+ rights would be focused on heavily and non-heterosexual people could come out more freely. "Lesbian" was one of the worst insults you could throw at our ages. I mean, what girl would like other girls, right? It was disgusting!

But I guess I was disgusting, and she called me out on it. I'd been wrestling with it for years, my attraction to women, and she and her friends were laughing at my sexuality. Sure, they just meant it as a mean joke, but how disgusted would they be if they found out they were right?

And they must have seen how much it impacted me. For the rest of the year I was called a "child murderer" and "lesbian," and for the rest of the year, I was reminded that I was attracted to some of the girls in my school—and that they would think I was disgusting if I ever admitted it.

I couldn't repress the feelings I had, the emotions that were always kept hidden away. I had crushes on my classmates of either gender. I got butterflies when I saw my prettier friends, just like I got butterflies when I saw my handsome friends. Gender simply didn't matter, and every time I was called a lesbian, I was reminded of these little butterflies.

A year later, I came out to my parents as bisexual.

Seven years later, I came out openly as pansexual.

Unlike most of my peers, I would date anyone as long as I had an emotional connection with them. Man, woman, transgender, gender nonconforming... none of it mattered. I just wanted that connection, and with that connection, I could find a romantic and sexual attraction.

Thanks to my seventh-grade bullies, I came to understand who I was and what my sexuality meant. Thanks to my bullies, I was forced to confront something I had been repressing for years. Thanks to my bullies, I grew to understand that not everyone will accept my sexuality. Thanks to my bullies, I embraced who I was and found a way to express my sexuality in a safe manner.

So thank you. You were a little off, but your cruelty helped me. As soon as I came to terms with who I was, you gave me more happiness than you ever got from picking on me.

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9 Queer Pride Flags That You Probably Didn't Know About

The rainbow flag is certainly the most recognizable, but it isn't the only Pride Flag there is.
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It's Pride Month yet again and fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are celebrating. Normally around this time of year, we expect to see that all-too-familiar rainbow colored flag waving through the air, hanging from windows and sported on clothing of all types. Even when not strictly a flag, the colors of the rainbow are often displayed when showing support of the larger queer community. But what many people do not realize is that there are many, many pride flags for orientations of all kinds, so Natasha and I (Alana Stern) have created this handy guide to some others that you may not yet be familiar with:

1. L is for Lesbian and G is for Gay

The most recognizable letters of the entire acronym, L (Lesbian) and G (Gay), represent the homosexual people of the LGBTQ+ community. Homosexuality is defined as being exclusively sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Again, although the rainbow Pride flag is easily the most iconic and recognizable, there is a Lesbian Pride Flag as well. Specifically for "Lipstick Lesbians," this flag was made to represent homosexual women who have a more feminine gender expression. Here are the Lesbian Pride Flag (left) and Gay Pride Flag with the meaning of each stripe (right).



2. B is for Bisexual

Bisexuality is defined as the romantic and/or sexual attraction towards both males and females. They often go unacknowledged by people who believe that they cannot possibly feel an attraction for both sexes and have been called greedy or shamed in many ways for being who they are, but not this month. This month we recognize everyone and their right to love. Here is the flag and symbol that represents the big B!


3. T is for Transgender (Umbrella)

Gender identities are just as diverse as sexual orientations. Transgender people are people whose gender does not necessarily fall in line with their biological sex. That is to say, someone who is born male may not feel that calling oneself a man is the best way to describe who they are as a person; the same can go for someone who is born female or intersex (we'll get to that in a bit). Someone born female may feel that they prefer to be referred to as a man. Someone born male may feel that they don't mind being referred to as either a man or a woman. And someone may feel that neither term really fits. Identities can range from having no gender, to multiple genders, to having a gender that falls outside of the typical gender binary of man/woman, to anything in between. The colors of the flag are blue (the traditional color for boys), pink (the traditional color for girls) and white (to represent those who are intersex, transitioning, or have a gender that is undefined).


Okay! Here's where we get into the lesser-known letters of the acronym. You may have heard of some of these before but didn't quite know what they meant or how they fit into the larger queer community, or you may not have heard of them at all. Either way, we'll do our best to explain them!

4. I is for Intersex

Intersex people are people who are have a mix of characteristics (whether sexual, physical, strictly genetic or some combination thereof) that would classify them as both a male and a female. This can include but is not limited to having both XX and XY chromosomes, having neither, being born with genitalia that does not fit within the usual guidelines for determining sex and appearing as one sex on the outside but another internally. It is possible for intersex people to display the characteristics from birth, but many can go years without realizing it until examining themselves further later in life. Here is an older version of the intersex flag which utilizes purple, white, blue and pink (left) and a more recent one that puts an emphasis on more gender-neutral colors, purple and yellow (right).


5. A is for Aro-Ace Spectrum

The A in the acronym is usually only defined as Asexual, which is a term used to describe people who experience a lack of sexual attraction to any sex, gender, or otherwise. People who are asexual can still engage in healthy romantic relationships, they just don't always feel the need or have the desire to have sex and are not physically attracted to other people. If that's confusing, think of it this way: you are attracted women, but not men. You may see a man and think, "He's kind of cute" or "That's a pretty good-looking guy," but you still would not feel any desire towards that person, because that's not what you're into. Asexual people generally feel that way about everyone. That's the "Ace" half of "Aro-Ace."

"Aro," or Aromantic, is a term used to describe people who do not experience romantic attraction. Aromantic people still have healthy platonic relationships, but have no inclination towards romantic love. The reason Asexual and Aromantic are together is because they are very heavily entwined and oftentimes can overlap. Underneath that spectrum are also other variations of asexuality (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are asexual but experience sexual attraction in very rare circumstances, or only after they have a romantic connection) and aromanticism (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are aromantic but experience romantic attraction in very rare circumstances).

Below are two versions of the Aromantic Pride Flag (top and middle) and the Asexual Pride Flag (bottom).





6. P and O are for Panseuxal and Omnisexual

Pansexual and omnisexual people are not limited by gender preferences. They are capable of loving someone for who they are and being sexually attracted to people despite what gender their partner identifies as. The word pansexual comes from the Greek prefix "pan-", meaning all. Pansexuals or Omnisexuals will probably settle for whoever wins their heart regardless of that persons gender.


7. But what about the Q?!

The Q can be said to stand for Queer or Questioning, or both. "Queer" is more of a blanket term for people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community or who identify as something other than heterosexual or cisgender (a term that has come to describe people who feel that their gender does fall in line with their biological sex; i.e. someone born male feels that he is a man). It is also possible for someone to identify as queer, but avoid using it to refer to specific people unless you know they are okay with it; some people still consider it insulting. Questioning means exactly what it sounds like: it gives a nod to those who are unsure about their sexuality and/or gender identity or who are currently in the process of exploring it.

There's no one flag specifically for the letter Q, as all of the above sexualities and identities technically fall underneath this term.


This list is hardly comprehensive and there are a number of other flags, orientations and identities to explore. Pride Month is still going strong, and there's always more to learn about the ever-changing nature of sexuality as a whole and the way we understand it. It's a time for celebration, but also a time to educate and spread the word.

For a more in-depth description of different types of attraction and how they work, click here.

For more complete lists of gender identities throughout history, click here or here.

For a general list of commonly used words in the LGBTQ+ community and their definitions, click here.


Now go grab a flag and fly it high--you've got a ton to choose from!

Cover Image Credit: 6rang

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18 'Queer Eye' Quotes That Prove The #Fab5 Are The Most Amazing Humans On Earth

They're smart, funny, and have hearts of gold.

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I never watched the original "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," so when I started watching "Queer Eye" on Netflix, I was not prepared for the range of emotions I experienced. So. Many. Tears. Every. Time.

I am convinced that these five men are five of the purest, most amazing humans in the world. They put aside their fears and insecurities and go into people's homes to help them look and feel better. I think it is important to note that they are going into homes in the south.

Despite what we as a country want to believe, the south is notoriously slow to adopt progressive ideologies. So the fact that five openly gay men are willing to put themselves into situations, in places they may not be accepted, is amazing. And they do it because they have a passion for helping others.

These men change lives. They encourage people to embrace their bodies, talents, and feelings. They help people feel good about who they are now.

Of course, the Fab 5 can't go into every home in the world and shower happiness on us all (though if I ever find a genie in a bottle, this will be my first wish), we can still experience the encouraging, loving, and hilarious words of the Fab 5 from the comfort of our homes.

"You're strong, you're a Kelley Clarkson song. You got this."

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- Johnathan Van Ness

"You being your true self isn't going to offend anybody. It's very unlikely that people are going to cause you an issue just because you are being yourself. And if they're concerned, that's on them. You're happy."

- Tan France

"When people build up walls, they end up keeping other people out. But they're also keeping themselves in."

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- Karamo Brown

"I heard a preacher once say, 'Sometimes when you're feeling buried, you're actually just planted.'"

- Bobby Berk

"What I've learned is that living in public life... it's impossible to have everybody like you. No matter what you do."

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- Antoni Porowski

"When people say, 'You can't teach an old dog new tricks,' it's not true, because you can reinvent yourself and learn new things whenever you want." 

- Johnathan Van Ness

"If my gay black ass from the South could do it, your ass can do it. So, just believe in yourself."

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- Karamo Brown

"Style is not fashion. Fashion is not trendy after a season. I couldn't give a sh** about fashion. Style is dressing the way that you feel confident and what is appropriate for you, your age, body type."

- Tan France

"How you take care of yourself is how the world sees you. It's OK to have a relationship with yourself."

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- Johnathan Van Ness

"Don't let that fear hold you. Don't let it hold you any more."

- Karamo Brown

"I want my partner to look at me and think I respect them enough to make an effort."

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- Tan France

"I'm sending this memo to every guy in the world. Making an effort with your wardrobe doesn't mean you're a wuss. Making an effort means you're serious about the life you want."

- Tan France

"Confidence is sexy. Knowing who you are is sexy."

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- Johnathan Van Ness

"I never want people to think they are not gay enough, or straight enough. It's so much more about what is in your heart."

- Johnathan Van Ness

"I experienced the hate and the ignorance, and it's scary. I started getting older and refusing to accept that. And refusing to accept the kind of chains that I've been having my whole life. I just wanted to be free."

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- Bobby Berk

"You can't selectively numb feelings. So if you try to numb the vulnerability, you also numb the joy, happiness, connection. You can't have connection and joy and happiness without vulnerability." 

- Johnathan Van Ness

"I'm never massively concerned about what somebody is wearing, as long as it makes them feel really good about themselves."

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- Tan France

"Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. It shows you are in tune with yourself, which is the sexiest thing to men or women."

- Karamo Brown

These five men truly have everyone's best interest at heart. They are kind, considerate, confident, and caring. They go out of their way and out of their comfort zones to help others embrace who they really are.

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