Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Leadership Team Voices: Tristan

Sexual Orientation and Coming Out
By Tristan Paulus, IPN Leadership Team Member

     Discovering that you may have feeling for the same sex can be a frightening and confusing time, you don't really know what’s going on, and your mind pulls you in many different ways. I know that when I first had feelings for other males, I was very confused and denied it right away, passing it off as a phase. When you first get that feeling, it’s weird, you feel out of place and alone, you feel like your world has been turned upside down, you question yourself: “Is it okay?” “Are there others like me?” “Is it normal?” I’m here to say yes- it is okay to feel like this. You may deny it right away, you may feel uncomfortable and just want to go back to liking the opposite gender, but you won’t, you will learn to live with it, you will get used to it in time, and you may even start to feel pride and enjoyment in the fact that you’re different.

     As of today there are several different orientations that are used to label who you like. They are: homosexual- liking the same sex; heterosexual-liking the opposite sex; bisexual-liking both sexes; pansexual-liking both sexes regardless of gender or gender identity; asexual-not liking any sex, or being non-romantically attracted. Remember though these are just guidelines, you should feel free to like whoever you do, and shouldn't be held back by a label.

     Statistics show that 4% of the United States population is gay, bisexual, or lesbian. Now four may seem like a small amount but when you apply that number to the total population, it shows that nearly 9,000,000 Americans are LGBT, 9 million, that is a huge number, and it means you have friends out there, you just have to look. Even though being LGBT has become more mainstream and accepted, some families have issues about members of their family being gay; it can range from religious views to personal or political belief. But even if your family is against homosexuality, you can still come out to them, be strong, be proud, and stay true to yourself. And if something occurs there are countless organizations set up to help you if you feel confused, depressed, or worried about being gay. Organizations such as: Iowa Pride Network, GLSEN, The Trevor Project, and many others. There are also many organizations out there to help support you during and after the dilemma of “coming out” or telling people about your LGBT identity.  Some local ones are: Iowa Pride Network, The Trevor Project, and PFLAG. 

     Now you may feel as though you have to come out as soon as possible. Do not think that, and instead come out at your own speed. Even telling one person can be a huge achievement, so don't feel pressured into telling everyone at once. When I came out, I told my entire first period class that “I like boys,” and by third period I was the talk of the class, I was bombarded by questions, and people would laugh at me, and avoid my gaze. Now remember I live in a small town, and both my aunt and grandma work at the school, so the news traveled down the grapevine to my mother, she asked me if I was and I denied it. I ended up leaving her a note while I went on vacation saying “I’m Gay.” So take it at your own pace, unless you want to be pulled out of the closet. 

Tristan Paulus is a senior at Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock High School and the president and a member of Iowa Pride Network's Leadership Team. Tristan started the GSA at his high school in an effort to educate the community and provide support to other LGBT students. After graduating, Tristan hopes to study biology and theater at Iowa State University and become an LGBT rights activist.

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