The Lesbian Reevaluates

The Lesbian Reevaluates

Living LGBTQ
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Opening the doors of a closet can be as difficult as opening your chest to a stranger.

The closet. The deeply dark, claustrophobic space at the back of the room. The vault where your truth hangs beside rusty coat hangers and winter coats. The crack between the door and the floorboards let light in for brief and fleeting moments- but your truth deserves to live in the sun.

Sexuality is fluid- that is to say it is malleable and ever-changing. Fully understanding sexuality at a young age is like reading a graphic Steven King novel in the first grade- incredibly daunting and almost impossible to understand. As I head into my sophomore year of college, I can say with clenched fists and slight disappointment that I still do not fully understand the vast complexity of sexuality.

As young adults in the millennial age, we are fortunate to be given more acceptance and tolerance of our sexual orientation than we would have been given in the past. The willingness to tell our stories has become both a blessing and a curse.

I started to come out as a gay woman between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years old. Telling my story set me free of oppression and fear of discrimination. Being a member of the LGBTQ community has saved my life. I have gotten the opportunity to work alongside incredibly prominent organizations and meet wonderfully inspirational people. I have found an international family of tolerance and undying love with strangers who share similar stories. I am proud to identify as being a gay woman.

However, being gay is not my whole identity. When I was younger, I thought it was.

For a long time I thought that being gay was the most important part of me. While I find pride, strength, and incredible love within my sexuality- it is not all that I am. It does not have to define me. It is not everything.

In my freshman year of college, I met a man that changed my perspective. He and I shared an emotional connection that was beyond what I had found with anyone in the past. I found myself developing feelings for him- which frightened me. How could I be myself attracted to a man when I'd built up my entire identity around being gay? What was I? Who was I?

I was terrified of the prospect of coming out "again". What would my friends and family think? Would I be confirming the stereotypes that I was only a lesbian until I "met the right man"?

No. Absolutely not.

This is when I learned the fluidity of sexuality and the importance of freeing yourself from shame. It does you far less good to refuse your own feelings because you THINK you should not have them.

I know that I was born gay. Identifying as a lesbian is the sexual orientation I've chosen to label the way in which I was born. I also know that I was born with an open mind and a deeply powerful spirit that is not always understood. If I meet a woman (or man) who I feel connected to- I will open myself up to the prospect of that love despite the fact that it contradicts the label of my sexual orientation.

Many would say that this would make me bisexual, or sexually fluid. I still choose to identify as a lesbian. However, I refuse to put myself in an inescapable box. While I certainly prefer women, I will allow myself to love whomever comes into my life who loves me back.

I used to define myself by a label. The pride and passion that I have within myself and my sexuality is undying. It is perhaps the strongest part of my spirit.

However, what I've learned along the way, is that identifying yourself solely on a basis of sexuality is just as suffocating as being in the closet.

Be proud of the many aspects of who you are. Be unafraid if something different comes into your life. Allow yourself to be constantly questioning what comes along your path. Allow yourself to be open minded and open hearted. Always choose to love, even if it is not what you expected it to be. Love anyway.

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Inspired by the spoken word poem The Lesbian Reevaluates by Blythe Baird.

Cover Image Credit: Google

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To That One Friend Who Deserves The World

Since I can't give you the world, I hope giving you this article is enough.
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My wonderful friend,

You deserve love.

You deserve to marry your best friend.

You deserve appreciation.

You deserve that no matter who comes in and out of your life, every selfless thing you do for someone is acknowledged.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You deserve kindness.

You deserve to have the nicest people in the world surround you all of the time.

You deserve support.

You deserve to have someone there for you at the beginning of every good day and at the end of every bad one, to have someone who wants to fix all of your problems.

You deserve hope.

You deserve to always be optimistic.

You deserve laughter.

You deserve to never stop smiling and actually mean it every time you do.

You deserve forgiveness.

You deserve to be able to be given second chances because without a doubt you are worth it.

You deserve friendship.

You deserve to have a friend who can be just as good of a friend as you are.

You deserve honesty.

You deserve to always be told the truth.

You deserve motivation.

You deserve to never want to give up and always push yourself.

You deserve success.

You deserve to have everything you have worked so hard for.

You deserve faith.

You deserve to always know it will get better.

You deserve loyalty.

You deserve to have that one person who will never leave and always be there for you.

You deserve happiness.

You deserve to be genuinely content with your life.

You deserve the world.

If I could give it to you, I would.

Yes, life gets tough sometimes. The unthinkable happens and your world feels like it is crashing down but you can get past all of this.

Thank you for being so selfless. It amazes me how you do it sometimes, but thank you for always making everyone your main priority when they need you.

I know I may not say it enough, but truly thank you for all you do for me. I don’t always know how to show how much someone means to me, especially when it is someone as great as you because I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but thank you.

I love you.

Cover Image Credit: Liz Spence

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I Won't Forgive The Anti-Semitic Students Of Spain Park, Not Yet

Maybe it isn't time for an apology.

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I am Jewish. It is something I have never been afraid of and something I value as much in life as I do with my family and friends. Throughout my life, though I have witnessed hate of the Jewish people and jokes made about Jewish people.

In high school, I had to listen to jokes about Jews and the gas chambers and was asked because I was Jewish if I could do someone else's math homework.

To say I had to deal with anti-Semitism in the South does not come close to describing what I had to go through. As time went by the jokes stopped and I thought I would not have to deal with instances of prejudice or bigotry but I was wrong. Growing up as one of the only Jewish people in my friend group and in high school it made me consider myself strong and ready for college but in my freshman year I had to go through other jokes about my religion and even in sophomore year had to witness someone I thought was my friend make a joke about my religion because "he thought it was funny."

I let the instances of anti-Semitism serve as times when I could prove people wrong I learned to forgive and forget.

But I had to witness other acts of hate towards Judaism while in college. From swastikas on a fraternity house, a synagogue shooting, the BDS movement and more hate speech, the hate towards Jews have seemed to grow and I do not understand why. I get hurt each time I hear of an instance but it has not allowed me to view my Judaism any differently. However, there was an occurrence that has affected me in a different way.

It happened in my home state and it has not sat well with me.

On Monday a video surfaced of multiple high school students making anti-Semitic and anti-Black comments. The video featured a guy turning around the camera multiple times to show he was laughing and thought it was funny while others made comments about concentration camps, what would happen if Jews ruled the world and asking what the world would be like without the Holocaust. The students were from Spain Park in Birmingham and have gathered quite a reputation online.

To say I am filled with anger, disappointment, and embarrassment is an understatement.

This is my home state and these students are not only disrespecting the Jewish and Black people in the state of Alabama but throughout the US and possibly even in the world. I am hurt by this instance but I am not ready to forgive these students just yet.

After the video was leaked online some of the students sent messages to the person who uploaded the video apologizing. That I took as a mature gesture until I read the apology from the girl in the video. The apology asked if the user could remove the video because it would ruin her life and reputation. It was later found out that the female student is the daughter of the manager of the Toyota dealership in Hoover after the manager posted an apology.

Any remorse I had going for these students was now gone.

They were not sorry. They were sorry that they got caught and were facing consequences. They gave the apology that your parents made you say when you did not want to apologize. They did not care about who they had harmed or what they had said, they cared because they had to face consequences and they know that this mistake would follow them for the rest of their life.

I'm at a loss for words.

I don't know how to feel. I know someone will tell me I am overreacting but how am I supposed to approach this? What they said was wrong and there is no proper way to express frustration for it. I know people get offended by certain things but some things are not meant to be a joke. So I hope what you said was worth it and was fun to say because it will follow you for the rest of your life. Some lessons are best-learned overtime and it looks like you will have a chance to reflect on these events.

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