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Stress of homosexuality 21 years later

January 24, 2019

           Confusion, anxiety and apprehension may be a normal part of adolescence, but consider this scenario: In addition to the “usual” stress that a teenager must face involving schoolwork, fitting in, and peer pressure, what would it be like to struggle with one’s own sexual orientation?

           Claire Anderson, 16, and a junior at Central York High School, openly admits her sexual preference towards members of the same sex, and feels teenagers who are coming to terms with their own sexual identity have additional stress that “normal” teenagers do not have.

           “Personally, I do not care what other people think about me because I’m not a person who judges another by their outside covering; I judge them from the inside because that’s what counts,” she said.

           Although teenagers do set different goals and ambitions for themselves, they all share one common element: that is the fear of being alone, isolated from other members of society. Anderson can relate to this feeling of seclusion due to her sexual choices. “You don’t feel alone, but you do feel separated.”

           Michelle Lebo, a tenth grader, says being homosexual doesn’t change who a person is. “They can sit and judge from their point of view but if a person is in love, does it really matter what sex you are with?”

           Junior Becky Bunn agrees, "I feel that homosexuals have the right to choose how they want to live.”

           Because adolescence is a vulnerable stage in a person’s life fitting in is a constant everyday struggle. Being “different” on the inside instead of the outside, coming to terms with this discovery, and telling friends, peers and strangers can be even more stressful.

           “When I first came out, it was more of a relief than anything. People are pretty split with their opinions. Some of my friends are very accepting while others thought it was absolutely disgusting,” said a bisexual sophomore.

           A gay sophomore at a neighboring high school, whose name has been withdrawn, also got a similar reception when he told his friends he was gay.

           “A lot of my friends were more understanding than what I thought they would be, and yes, some did act weird. I think society is just coming to terms with an issue that has been around since the beginning of time.”

 

           Confusion, anxiety and apprehension may be a normal part of adolescence, but consider this scenario: In addition to the “usual” stress that a teenager must face involving schoolwork, fitting in, and peer pressure, what would it be like to struggle with one’s own sexual orientation?

           Sierra Bowers, a sophomore, is open about her sexual orientation.

           “I’m gay. I have mixed feelings about being gay. It’s something I do feel good about, but in other ways it makes me feel bad,” said Bowers.

           The bad side, Bowers says, is because of unsupportive family members. “My family doesn’t support it at all; they refuse to believe it,” Bowers said.

           Despite the negatives, Bowers says she still feels lucky to have loving and supportive friends.

           In general, many people in the U.S. are becoming more accepting of those in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) community.

           According to USA Today, only 27 percent of people supported gay marriage in 1996. In 2018, that number was 67 percent.

           Junior Alex Landis agrees that Americans are becoming more accepting of those in the LGBTQ community.

           “20 years ago, LGBTQ rights weren't recognized in most places. Same-sex marriage was legal in a grand total of zero countries,” he said. “Since then, the suicide rates for LGBT people, specifically youth, have decreased significantly and LGBTQ rights are being recognized as human rights in more and more places. Although it is not perfect, the world is now a much more accepting place for people who are not cisgender (identifying as gender assigned at birth) and heterosexual.”

           Landis says that after coming out as transgender, he had a positive reception from others, “When I first came out, I was a part of a friend group that was two-thirds LGBT, which really helped me feel accepted,” he said. “Most of my coming out experiences have been positive ones, which I'm quite lucky for. Since coming out, my family, friends and teachers or other adults in my life have consistently called me by the right name and pronouns.”

           Junior Zack Kline, says he felt apprehensive when he came out as bisexual. “After coming out, I was really scared. I was scared about how my family felt about me and if they would look at me differently. I still remember walking in [to school] scared to death and feeling all eyes on me,” he said.

Kline says he will always feel supported by his fellow members of the LGBTQ community. “To me, the LGBTQ community means a family, and people that will always have your back,” Kline said.

 

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