Oct. 13, 2014

Alexander Nedd
anedd@uccs.edu

Coming out opens you to a world of judgment and hostility not commonly experienced by our heterosexual counterparts.

But our community and acceptance is growing.

In a national survey released last week, over 9.5 million citizens in the United States identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender. Also last week, the Supreme Court decided in favor of 11 states to overturn laws for same-sex couples. 30 states, including Colorado and our nation’s capital, now have marriage equality.

The numbers are growing and the future is looking a lot brighter than it did when I came out almost four years ago. But even with these strides to equality, the reality of injustice still lingers in the air, bearing the question: does it truly get better?

A year ago I wrote “Coming out is going out,” for The Scribe. Since its publication, I can still wholeheartedly confirm this belief. The rise and acceptance of LGBT individuals is growing in ways I can’t even count.

Schools are letting same-sex couples take awards such as cutest couple and homecoming crowns. People are supporting their LGBT friends, pushing bullying away. Gay is finally becoming OK.

But there is always an exception to the norm, and being gay will find that rule in place more often than not. My coming out was a lot smoother than most because of my loving family and friends. But since coming out I have had my fair share of people who were less than fond of the idea. Are they wrong? Not necessarily, but the people who don’t agree with same-sex relationships make staying out difficult.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told I’m going to hell based on a characteristic that I had as much choice in as my skin color. No one should have to face news stories of people calling you the scum of the earth just for having a different partner preference. Yet it’s a story all too familiar to those in the LGBT community.

When I came out, popular YouTube videos began to emerge among openly gay celebrities. The “It Gets Better Project” went viral. Stars opened themselves to troubles they had faced based on their sexuality and shared how they overcame the obstacles. Their videos ended with the simple message that it does get better. Al

l that was meant to help reverse the trend of rising depression and suicide among gay youth. However, the videos showed celebrities at the height of their careers. It’s only natural they would say it gets better.

I understand the heart of the message, but some stars seriously went through a lot before ending up in the eye of Hollywood.

Coming out doesn’t make things better. But it does make people like me stronger.

Staying true to yourself is hard, but it’s the only way to show that you won’t be pushed aside. My sexuality is simply one part of me, it doesn’t define me. I refuse to let others put their definition of me upon my sexual orientation.

My life got better once I realized that the thoughts of others didn’t matter. It’s a thought I had when I first came out and it’s the thought that continues to drive me to this day.

Don’t let yourself become a victim, don’t wish for it to be better. Make it better, and be yourself.

We’ve spent enough time in the closet; don’t shut the door on your own progress. Only then does it get better.