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Emma Bennett, Broadcast Editor

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LGBT+ students open up about their coming out process and negatives they face from society

Imagine a stage. Bright, stifling light shines upon any performer brave enough to endure the possibility of failure and ridicule. Tonight’s guest stands beneath the heat coming from above, beads of sweat form as they prepare to disclose one of their deepest secrets. In the crowd sits their friends, family, peers, and instructors. Their performance is simple: just two words surface.
For some young adults, the utterance of these two words, whether they be “I’m gay,” “I’m bisexual,” or “I’m transgender,” may come with no fear. Others, however, see coming out as one of the most terrifying things they will ever endure.
In some cases, coming out means LGBT youths run the risk of being kicked out of their home because their parents or legal guardians believe, whether it be because of religion or personal opinions, that being gay or transgender is immoral or sinful. With the added pressures of the current political climate, many fear that a hateful and divisive culture could exist.
Alice Clauss (10), a trans girl who identifies as pansexual (someone who does not base attraction on gender), noted the challenges faced by the LGBT+ community and how it has developed to support itself.
“I feel that within the LGBT community, there’s definitely been of change of the attitude within it. Everyone’s worried that the LGBT connotation may deteriorate, especially with our vice president and his explicit stances on homosexuality. I feel a lot of people are moving towards opposition of the current administration and also ways to protect themselves in case anything happened,” Clauss said.
In a poll sent out to the entire LHS student population, students were given the chance to comment about their stance on LGBT rights. In a mixture of positive and negative notes, many left childish comments such as “you should never be gay,” “gay=gross,” and even “we should get rid of gay people.” One anonymous responder spoke poorly on not only same-sex couples, but transgender citizens who choose to undergo medical transition.
“I personally believe that this community doesn’t understand the simple difference between a man and a woman. And when people turn transgender, they are basically poisoning their bodies by getting the trans surgery and taking sex supplements that are the opposite of their God-given gender,” the anonymous responder said.
Statements and opinions such as these push the concepts and ideas that the LGBT+ community is looked down upon and seen as an inferior component of society.
Many students at LHS struggle with both their identities and how to express them to those they trust.
Fortunately, Daniel Garcia (11), who has come out as gay, has had a mostly positive experience related to his coming out.
“The first time I came out was in eighth grade, after the eighth grade formal, to one of my best friends. He was asking me whether or not I liked this girl he liked and I said, ‘No, I don’t like girls,’ and it was pretty emotional. He reacted very well. I’ve been very fortunate, and I haven’t received a bad reaction, but that’s probably because I tell who I know I should tell,” Garcia said.
Similarly, Clauss’ coming out experience ended well, although not as she originally planned.
“The way I did it was interesting. I made slideshows explaining what a transgender is and what a pansexual person is and notes of worth. I had sent one of those to my friends because I was coming out to some elementary school friends. I left my phone upstairs on the kitchen table, and I got a text from one of my friends using ‘Alice’ in the message, and so my parents were confused. So they went into my phone and saw the presentation that I’d sent my friends, and they asked if it was true. Ironically, I was planning on coming out to the next day, and so that was a little extra push out of the closet,” Clauss said.
While the timing might have not been perfect, Clauss explained that her parents took a very liberal approach to it, using their own mechanisms to learn how to process this newfound information.
“I think my parents were surprised, I don’t know if they were expecting it, they just thought, ‘that’s something that happens with other parent’s kids, not mine. But I think they took it really well, and they did a lot of research like, ‘how do I react to this?’ and were supportive because of that,” Clauss said.
Along with the fear of rejection from family, many LGBT+ young adults hesitate when coming out due to anxiety of the possible reactions of their peers and friends. Many LGBT+ students face bullying every day, whether it be in the form of slurs, verbal harassment, or in extreme cases, physical harm. According to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 82% of teens experienced bullying due to their sexual orientation, while 44% experienced physical harassment, with a 22% experiencing stronger violence.
Students who do not believe in gay marriage or LGBT+ rights often attribute their hatred or dislike for this community to religion, but many simply foster a vendetta against those within the community based off of predispositions and false assumptions.
“I would plainly tell [people against LGBT+ rights because of their religion] that this is an issue that they are never going to have to deal with in your life, so you’ll never be able to understand the mentality and the stresses and the anxiety, and everything coming in with your sexual identity, or your gender identity. If your sexual identity is dislodged from your entire identity, it moves everything else out of place so everything is off. So you can’t do anything right, you can’t be open about anything, you can’t focus. Once you clear that, the coming out process might seem tedious to people who don’t really care. These people who are saying that we’re oversensitive probably are the ones who are not accepting us, and not causing us to be oversensitive, but bringing us in that direction,” Garcia said.
Luckily, as the general consensus of LGBT+ issues becomes more and more progressive and the movements to support minorities continue to grow, the support and backing within the walls of LHS does as well. Clubs such as Lindbergh Liberals, Gay-Straight Alliance, and Social Justice Club each have membership numbers growing regularly and each organization has set goals to improve relations between students at LHS, increase staff knowledge of how to deal with sexuality-based harassment, and engage in community action to help make a difference in the world.
Clubs like these, along with a gradually changing society that is adapting to the concept of LGBT+ issues and rights, have encouraged allies and members of the LGBT+ community alike to stand up for what they believe in, no matter if it aligns with the current political climate of the federal administration.
“When all these people are doing counterproductive steps, there also is a strong hold, at least within teenagers that are resisting this, and I think that’s building the community, and building the ally community. The toughest of times can bring the worst and best in people, so I think the current political situation is just testing the community and seeing what we can do in response, and trying to make us stronger, and trying to make us better,” Garcia said.
Along with the growing connectedness between the LGBT+ community and their allies comes a growth within the community itself, in which those who fear negative repercussions from the transition of power as a new political era begins.
Regardless of one’s sexuality, gender identity, race, or gender, a majority believe that these people do deserve to be treated equally, as part of a community, whether it be LHS, South County, Saint Louis, or even Missouri.
Any student who regards the LGBT+ community negatively is, of course, welcome to take a moment and imagine what it would feel like to be on that stage with the prospect of failure racing through their mind with every tick of a clock. With this idea, maybe it will be easier to see from the inside looking out.
Ayu Lockos

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