By Nico Morgan
Over the weekend, I moved into my first new apartment. My girlfriend was there the entire time by my side, helping me haul boxes to and from. With us, two other friends, both girls, who later kissed on a club’s dance floor while we were all a little tipsy from celebrating. They’d been on a few dates already, and my girlfriend and I were absolutely thrilled to see them hitting it off so well. My girlfriend, drunker than I was by the end of the night, cried inebriated tears of joy while she laid curled up in my backseat.
I was raised extra conservative, in a religion where being “homosexual” was one of the worst sins out there. It was one of those religions where being gay wasn’t necessarily a sin, but acting on your gay instincts sure was. That’s how I grew up, taught to be forever bitter about those “gay people” and how they were only out to ruin the sanctity of marriage, or whatever.
But now, obviously, everything is different. I’m in a healthy, committed relationship with my gay as hell girlfriend, and I’m happy. Despite that, though, I’m still relatively closeted– at least, when it comes to my family and friends back home. Those family and friends that, all my life growing up, were an equal part of the homosexuality = sin movement.
I want to come out to them, to my entire Facebook roster of friends, actually, but every time I think about it, I feel a little bit sick. I don’t know why I do, a part of me is constantly repeating, “if these are people you really want in your life, you shouldn’t care if they shun you, if they turn their backs on you. Those who really love you wouldn’t do that.”
Some of those people have been my best friends since grade school, some of those people are my dearest family members, and the thought of “disappointing” them absolutely crushes me. How am I supposed to tell my dad, my best friend, that I might never give him biological grandchildren? How do I tell my church-centric grandparents that I’ll probably never make use of the marriage quilt they sewed me, because I might never be able to legally marry in the first place?
There’s more to it, though: 90% of those friends, those family members, were Trump supporters. They voted for him, the man who publicly shames women, the man who claimed so adamantly throughout his campaign to be LGBTQ+ friendly, yet now surrounds himself with an almost entirely anti-gay cabinet.
And speaking of gay marriage and the legality of it, that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. For those identifying as LGBTQ+, gay marriage might literally be one of the last of their worries, despite it being one of the most common in the public eye.
For example, in South Carolina in 2016, Domestic Violence Laws didn’t apply to gay couples. This meant that, despite two people of the same sex cohabiting the same as those in opposite-sex relationships, the two same-sex partners could not receive the same protective orders as the opposite-sex partners.
More so, in the LGBTQ+ realm, mental health issues are rampant, which is probably to be expected. To top it off, in a study conducted by the JAMA Network, 55% of psychiatrists do not accept health insurance, ACA (Obamacare) or otherwise.
LGBTQ+ couples are being refused wedding cakes, wedding photography, and some things as silly as floral arrangements. As of 2016, gay and transgendered people can still be fired from their jobs simply for being gay/trans in 28 states, and with Donald Trump’s cabinet, I don’t expect that number to be falling any more in the coming years.
My girlfriend understands why I’m wary of coming out, even as bisexual. Her family, meanwhile, is loving and supportive, and she’s allowed to choose whatever she wants without even a batted eye– and damn, how I envy that.
It’s not that I truly believe my closest family members would disown me over the revelation, and I know I don’t actually want to associate with any anti-gay agenda pushers in my life, anyway– but the fear remains, outside of my friend/family relationships. Marriage, careers, horrible insults in the streets, actual violent attacks, all just for holding hands with my girlfriend in public.
But, despite all of this doom and gloom, I find it hard to only be pessimistic about the overall outlook. Despite Donald Trump’s hate agenda, and his people’s’ desperation to silence those like me, there’s a storm coming, and I can feel it.
Support communities are forming around the country, whether the focus is on LGBTQ+ people, women, or another marginalized group. Allies are joining the fray, more and more people are vocalizing their sexuality without fear, strengthening those who might still be too afraid. Good things are blossoming around this fear and hate, and I expect soon they will completely drown out the worst of it, to be replaced with a sweet-smelling bouquet of calm.
If you’re a member of one of these groups, particularly the LGBTQ+ group I am speaking of right now, I challenge you this: if you’re in a safe place, if you’re protected, do not be afraid to make yourself vulnerable in terms of your sexuality, and in turn, allow opportunities for others around you to do the same.
After all, it wasn’t until I had a safe space of my own that I was able to come out of my shell and begin unlearning all of the vitriolic sentiments I’d been taught as a child, and I know I’m certainly not the only one out there.
Nico Morgan is a freelance writer from Idaho, where she spends most of her time writing, drawing, and plaiting tiny braids into the fur of long-haired cats. You can find more of her daily one-liners on twitter, @holobun.