To My First Real Life Girl Crush, Thank You

To My First Real Life Girl Crush, Thank You

It was only a week long event, but I didn't know it would be a week that changed my life.
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Two years ago, I thought I knew who I was. I was wrong.

I have never told you this in person how I felt about you just because I didn't know what I was feeling. Since sophomore year of high school, I questioned who I was. It was the summer that we met that changed my whole perspective, so thank you.

If I could go back in time and confess my feelings to you, I would in a heartbeat.

It was the summer going into my senior year when I attended a summer camp through a local Honors College in Ohio. The program was meant to give exposure to a wide variety of college courses, to give high schoolers an opportunity to explore potential majors/careers while earning some credit. It was only a week long event, but I didn't know it would be a week that changed my life.

While looking at different uses of communication and social media, you were all I could focus on. No, we weren't in the same classes, but thankfully we were in the same friend group. There was something about the vibe I got off of you. You marched to the beat of your own drum and that's one of the many things I admired about you. Your individualism pushed me beyond my own limits as I wanted to get to know you more.

If I had a clone, you would be it. You and I both have the drive to be great and to do great things in this world. Your imagination and creativity never cease to amaze me. You are an innovator and just an overall boss. I loved listening to your thoughts, dreams, and opinions. You were just perfect to me, and I'd only just met you.

That was when I realized I was getting a crush on you. I loved your brain, personality, and wide smile. You were everything I wanted in a significant other but I didn't know at the time that's what I was feeling until weeks later.

We talked briefly a few weeks after that summer camp, but you lived in Ohio and I lived in Pennsylvania. Of course, we tried making plans to hang out with one another, but it never happened. We just lost contact, which is okay. That's just how life works sometimes.

But from time to time, I still thought about you.

Sure, I thought of you and what you might be doing, but mostly of the feelings I felt towards you. I recognized them as getting a crush, but still felt confused. For a majority of my life, I grew up Catholic and knew that I was straight. It was never an issue of accepting LGBTQ+ individuals. It was more of what I was told my whole life: "You're straight" and "You are going to marry a wonderful man and have kids."

Meeting you changed that. Over the next couple of weeks, I began to realize more my attraction to other girls and people in general. October of my senior year, I came out as pansexual, and since then, I've been the happiest I've ever been.

So to the girl that helped me realize I'm queer, thank you. Little do you know, you walked into my life and changed it forever. I'll always be grateful for that! You help push me closer to embracing my true, authentic self.

Hopefully our paths will cross again someday so I can really thank you in person.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Maybe It's Time For Even Black People To Stop Saying The 'N-Word'

There's no time nor place to use the word, whether it connotes to something negative or positive.

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I've been thinking about this topic for a while now. I recently went to a party with a couple of my friends, and usually, at a PWI like Rutgers, I'll always aware when I'm one of the few black people in the room. And since I'm one of the few black people in the room, I'm always hyper-sensitive of any racial tensions that may arise within the party scene. I think it was Meek Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares" that came on and I was dancing with these two white girls, and I couldn't tell if they were singing along or not because it was too dark, but I swore I heard them say the n-word. It just made me so angry, and I hate that as one of the few black people in the room, I felt obliged to tell them that the word isn't something for them to say.

And that had been my entire mindset about the word for a while now, that only black people can say the word because we're the only ones who can truly understand the context of the word. But my boyfriend and I got into a discussion a few nights ago about Halsey, who is a popular biracial — with one black parent and one white parent — singer, though she is white passing.

iamhalsey / Instagram

We got into a discussion of whether or not she should be able to say the 'n-word,' and my boyfriend said that she shouldn't be able to because if her fanbase is mostly non-black, they would think they are justified in saying the word if their favorite white-passing celebrity can. Because yes, although she is half black, to an average onlooker who doesn't know her, they would think that she's white. The black social justice warrior wanted to say that she could say it because despite her other half, at the end of the day she is a black woman, and to strip her of her right to say a word that we've reclaimed is almost like stripping her of half of her identity.

But then I really thought about it. The usage of the "n-word' has so many nuances. Like, what if someone is a quarter black, like Cardi B, are they allowed to use the word? Because we can use the same justification for them as we can use for Halsey. Furthermore, can Africans use the word, even if the word was only used against African Americans? Is there a particular percentage of black that you can be to really use the word? And what if you're fully black, yet still white passing... are you still allowed to use the word even if other people wouldn't see you as black?

That's when I told him, "Maybe no one should say the 'n-word.'" And I know that kind of struck him by surprise, but the more I started to think about it, the more it made sense to me. If it's a word that no one but black people can use, and if it's so offensive, why are us black people even using it?

Honestly, it's just my opinion, but I think you can't reclaim a word with so much history. I feel like it's different with women, who reinvented the meaning of and became empowered by "bitch" or members of the LGBTQ+ community reclaiming the word "queer." Because although yes, those words have been used to oppress and discriminate against certain groups, I feel like the 'n-word' has terrible connotations that span across centuries. The 'n-word' has been used to systematically, institutionally, and personally degrade, enslave, and inhibit black people from reaching their full potential in society. The word itself has been used to dehumanize blacks and make them believe that they are "less than" any other race.

It's a word with so much history, hurt, and torment behind it, and I feel like it's not something we can reclaim and make into something positive. And I thought what the arguments that can be used against my opinion... like maybe, this is the one thing people have, so why try and take it away from us? or black people have been using it to talk to other black people for a while now, saying it is no different than slaves calling each other that.

And I think those arguments are completely valid. But back then, black people used it to refer to other black people because they legitimately saw each other as less than because that's what the slave masters wanted them to think. And while yes, black people have had a lot of things taken away from us, I think that we as a people can't thrive while still calling each other something that was used to dehumanize us (and still used in some places) for so long.

Again, it's just my opinion, but it's something that I've given a lot of thought to. There's no time nor place to use the word, whether it connotes to something negative or positive. Maybe we should all just agree that this is a particular word that can't be reclaimed and can't be rebranded. As long as racism and prejudice exist, we won't really ever get away from the true context or meaning of the word. You can't take out an "-er" and slap an "-a" at the end and believe the word is OK to use now.

Maybe it's time to leave the word in the past, where it rightfully belongs.

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