Growing up gay isn’t the easiest thing to do. In society, our natural instinct is to react negatively against something that goes against the norm, and liking someone of the same sex is definitely that. Adolescence is the point in our lives where we begin to discover things about ourselves, including our sexuality, and it’s confusing enough without throwing a gay element into the mix.
There are an alarming number of gay people who have admitted on Whisper – a secret app where users can anonymously share their darkest secrets – that they often privately wish that they were straight, mostly because they can’t deal with the thought of being gay and the burdens that often come with it. And it’s not just teenagers that we’re dealing with here; it’s fully grown adults, most of which who are out and proud. This is a problem that straight people don’t ever have to consider as straight privilege is a very real thing that most people don’t appear to acknowledge.
I’m not at all saying that straight people don’t have any kind of struggles when it comes to growing up. After all, sexuality is just one part of the equation. There’s mental health, there’s the issue of gender stereotypes, there’s wondering what you want to do for a living. And as you get older, there’s finding someone that you want to spend time with – if not necessarily for the rest of your life, if you don’t believe in that sort of thing – and be intimate with, to share your life and your dreams with.
Now, with this person, if you’re heterosexual, you don’t have to worry about holding hands in public. If you book a room at a hotel for a romantic weekend with your partner, you won’t have to wonder if you’ll be turned away or be refused a room with a double bed due to the owners ‘religious beliefs’. You can bring your partner home without a fear of being disowned by your family. If you’ve ever fallen for someone of the opposite sex, there is always a chance that something could happen. Any gay who’s fallen for a straight friend – and the likelihood is that everyone has done it at least once – will tell you how painful is it to want someone that is completely unattainable. When it is put in this way, it’s understandable that people have a secret desire to be straight, just so they can fit into the world without being judged.
There is no question for me that we live in possibly the best time to be gay in history. But even in the face of all this, the problems that we face are staggering, internalized homophobia and the dilemma of self-loathing still being a huge problem in our community.
But when you look closely at the facts, most of the time the self-loathing that these people often feel aren’t necessarily linked to homophobia – it’s a desire to find the right person, which is something that the majority of people in the world feel. Self-hatred is a devastatingly common condition that exists in a lot of people, not just gay people. Gays have it hard growing up, that is without question. But once you get past the judgements of others and stop living by the standards that others expect of you, you realise that it’s your life, not theirs.
We all struggle with something. But our sexuality isn’t something that we can change. It’s not a sin. It’s not abnormal. It’s not a character flaw or quirk. It’s who we are. And it’s the realest thing we’ll ever be.
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