Q1: What is your earliest memory of realizing your sexuality/gender identity? What was that like?
A: I would've been 5 yrs old, I was pretty young. But by this time, I had kissed two or three pretty girls in my class - casually or under a table. Not thinking anything about it. And because I got away with it at school, I decided to go to my best friend's house and do the same. Well, she didn't like the kiss, and that was my first time realizing some girls don't kiss girls... so I went home acting normal about it. However, my mom still found out - and she told me "We don't kiss our friends, girl friends at that".. But I didn't have the words to articulate that I didn't want to be just friends... not at that age. But it was the first time I didn't feel comfortable about who I was, so I was just sneaky about it. I incorporated this picture - which is about 2/3 months before I kissed my best friend - to show others how young people can be when they know who they love.
Q2: What is something you wish someone would’ve done for or said to you during your earlier years of finding/accepting yourself? What is something YOU would tell your younger self or others?
A: Something I wish I could tell my younger self is that the accolades and the achievements won't make them "overlook" the gay. If anything, you'll be more of a martyr for the wrong side of the argument. Instead focus on being the best you you can... Then they won't have to overlook anything because they already love everything you are.
Q5: Did you come out or did you just start living in your truth? Do you feel like coming out is necessary/required? Why or why not?
A: I was uncomfortable around people who didn't know. And it put stress on my relationship with others bc I was living a double life. I felt that not being out hindered my love life and having a religious family made it feel necessary. So I came out as bisexual/pansexual in the 9/10th grade to ease me and those around me into my own truth. And actually came out as gay my sophomore year of college. Looking back, it wasn't as necessary for me as I painted it but it was more as a courtesy to those around me.
Q7: Has religion/spirituality had any kind of affect on your journey to accepting yourself (good or bad)? If so, how does that affect your view and/or practice of religion/spirituality today?
A: Growing up Christian really made me reject who I was. For a long time, I prayed for the "deliverance" from my sexual identity. However, I grew up in a culturally diverse community, so my peers embraced me enough to rid these thoughts of myself. Currently, I do still pray and practice some teachings, but I am not a devout Christian, nor do I attend church.
Q11: How important do you think it is for people who “accept” you to be knowledgeable about your identity? Do you feel like language is important?
A: Acceptance to me looks like complete tolerance. No sly remarks, passive aggressive behaviors, aligning with politicians who destroy my rights, etc. So, language is definitely important, as well as company they keep, social media posts, etc. For me, if you aren't tolerant of the LGBT+ community, I do not associate with you - regardless of if they are family or friend.
Q15: What do you identify as? Have you always identified as ___? What led you to identify in that way?
A: So, I'm non-binary and have known that since the 7th grade. I knew that I was different because it never mattered to me what pronouns were associated to me ... I also never felt included in either gender. Yet the knowledge of what to call that feeling hadn't been brought to me yet. Once learning of the term in high school, I debated it heavily for years. I didn't want to make the decision lightly and so this past year - 7 years after learning what it was - I changed my pronouns to they/she.
”I incorporated this picture - which is about 2/3 months before I kissed my best friend - to show others how young people can be when they know who they love." - Christen D., They/She, Non-binary