The reality of a Queer

The reality of a Queer

The teen shoots one last longing glance to the rest of their family as they stand up, the scraping sound of chairs on the hard floors of the restaurant causing them to flinch. They start to map out the route to the restrooms in the back of the crowded restaurant, lingering near the table for more than a few moments too long.

   Then, the walk of shame begins. Although patrons were likely preoccupied with their meals, the teen can’t help but feel like every set of eyes is on them as they approach the small hall and pause in front of the twin bathroom doors. The teen hesitates here, dreading the sick feeling that forms in their stomach when they finally have to choose one door or the other.

   As time has progressed in recent years, the destructive stigmas surrounding those who identify under the LGBT+ spectrum are fading. Gay marriage is legalized. Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals are recognized as who they are rather than having to hide away in fear of being harassed or even killed.

    However, this does not mean that queer individuals no longer face discrimination. This does not mean that the hurt from past discrimination does not linger. 

   Most individuals identifying under the LGBT+ umbrella are aware of just how dangerous their lives could be. They have all heard stories of other queer youth getting disowned or thrown out of their homes by their families. They are all well aware of others who refuse to accept their existence and who stop at nothing to condemn those within the LGBT+ to the terrible fate of never being welcome. 

   Even on a day-to-day basis, those identifying as LGBT+ individuals face extra anxieties:.

   People shared their daily life experiences in these interviews, and the contrast between those who identify as LGBTQ and those who don’t is stark.


Answers in bold are people in the LGBTQ+ community

Answers in regular font are cishet (cisgender and heterosexual)

Do you have any anxieties meeting new people? 

Willow Beach – “Oooh a lot. Whether or not they’re accepting (of my sexuality). 

Jenna Harmson (Not their real name) – “Yes, most of the time.” 

Spencer Bahm – “When meeting someone new I typically think about how I hope they are accepting, or that they understand. And I typically don’t tell them anything about me in case they react badly against me. Because I’m not cis or straight and while people are more accepting nowadays it is still a possibility of getting a bad reaction. I haven’t had any bad reactions yet, but I know if I told my father he would flip out and try and totally cut me out of his life. ( that sounds scary ) Yeah, but it’s a part of life.”

Brandon Blake – “I don’t think about much. What do people think of me?”

Bella Kephart – “I think all humans are pretty judgemental whether we like to admit it or not. I ask for the important stuff, their name, their grade, based on the context. I grew up in a pretty conservative family when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights so I was never educated properly on terminology. I get really nervous about using the wrong pronouns because I want to be respectful but I’m not used to thinking about pronouns. And of course, just general anxiety and saying the wrong thing.” 


Would you feel comfortable introducing your significant other to your family? 

Beach – “My mom is supportive and her boyfriend, Jason, isn’t openly homophobic but they definitely have a lot of stereotypes around the LGBTQ community. So overall, no, I would feel comfortable.”

Harmson- “If I had one, probably not. It would take a long time for me to feel comfortable enough to do that. I would probably introduce them as a friend…”

Bahm – “Yes, I already have and my family loves him very much.”

Blake – “Probably. My family will want to know them.”

Kephart – “Yeah, I think so. My family has its own dysfunctions so if they can’t handle my significant other then that sounds like their problem.” 


When applying for a job, does your sexuality play a role in if you get/take the job? 

Beach – “I’m worried about it in the future but it (my sexuality) hasn’t so far. I’ve heard a lot of stories about how their sexuality has affected their chances of getting the job.

Harmson- “My sexuality probably would not play a role in any job that I get.”

Blake – “Not really.”

Kephart – “Nope.”


Do you get anxiety while shopping for clothes / what goes through your head? Do you dress a certain way for school? 

Beach – “Oh absolutely. I tend to dress so straight or homophobic people won’t consider that I might be gay but gay people will. It’s really hard to think about that, especially since I struggled with my gender identity for a while, which added to the stress. 

Harmson – Yes, I get lots of anxiety shopping for clothes. It is hard for me to pick out things I like that I’d feel confident in especially since my mom is usually disapproving. She would probably like me to dress more feminine. I prefer to dress nicer for school, it just depends on how I am feeling that day. I do stress about clothes on school days though, I have to be in something that is both physically comfortable and is deemed “socially acceptable.”

Bahm –  “Always. Because a simple outfit can be the reason for whether or not I get gendered correctly.”

Blake – “Not really.”

Kephart – “I want to strike a balance between what looks good for my body type but also what’s comfortable as well as modest. I definitely don’t wanna go to school scantily clad because I don’t want people looking at me wrong or with inappropriate intentions. I want to look cute because that goes hand in hand with self-confidence.” 


Tell me about a time you’ve felt unsafe or uncomfortable in society due to the way you identify in terms of gender identity or sexuality. 

Beach – “The scariest thing was when [I was first] dating. Even just holding hands in public. It felt like a bold statement when a thing that normal couples just do. It was terrifying. I was shaking.”

Harmson- “I avoid talking about crushes with heterosexual friends because I always feel like I am weirding them out. I always feel unsafe or not accepted in church settings like the youth group. I am scared that, one day when I am out, many of my extended family members will reject me or I will no longer be accepted at family gatherings.” 

Bahm – “Unsafe and uncomfy when I’m with my father’s side of the family because they are the type of people who say that people like me go against their religion and that I’m gonna burn in hell. (Have they said these things in front of you?) Yeah, mainly when I’m talking about some of my friends or even family who are either not cis or straight. But because I’m not out to them I haven’t been the one they are talking about. But if I was they would say it about me as well. Again, it’s a sad part of life that a lot of people in the LGBT community have to deal with. I’m just among the big crowd of people who would have to go through it.”

Blake – “I haven’t.”

Kephart – “As of sexuality, no. As a woman, yes. It’s a really dangerous world. There are a lot of things that I have to be aware of as a woman such as walking to my car in the dark and holding my keys a certain way. It’s absolutely terrifying.” 


Do you feel like any of your rights are threatened when any political decisions are made? 

Beach – “Yes, I do. People keep trying to pass laws allowing businesses to discriminate against me for something that doesn’t affect them and it makes me fear for my future.”

Harmson- “Sometimes…I really hope to adopt children one day and I heard that Trump was going to allow adoption agencies to deny adoptions to same-sex couples. I also know that some businesses are still allowed to deny service to LGBTQ people and some LGBTQ people can lose their jobs, housing, and sometimes even healthcare for being LGBTQ and that makes me really upset. It makes me nervous for the future knowing that things that people rely on could just get taken away from me because of who I am and who I chose to love.”

Bahm – Yeah. People (white, cis, straight, mainly male) are the ones making all of these decisions that aren’t always fair to people who are different from them. Everyone deserves the same rights, but because we’re different we don’t get the same treatment. We are allowed to be denied work, or medical care in certain places because of political decisions. Being denied these things is taking away our basic human rights.

Blake – “No, unless it affects everyone.”

Kephart – “Since I’m straight, not really. However, I think that a lot of people that are in the LGBTQ community, their rights are threatened. 


Has your identity ever been invalidated by other people? 

Beach – “It’s mostly strangers online on Instagram or Facebook. Sometimes family, actually. But that’s only been once or twice. I see a lot of homophobic boomer memes on Facebook. It bothers me sometimes. I even respond trying to educate people but it never works. They’re so stuck up.” 

Harmson- “I have not been invalidated by anyone other than my mom I guess. Most of the people who know about my sexuality are close friends. My mom seems to be relying on this all being a phase and that makes me feel like a real disappointment.”

Bahm  – “Mm. It’s mainly just people who know what I want to be called and how I want to be gendered and them refusing to call me by my name or pronouns (mainly my family).”

Ooh. Wait, when I came out to a specific family member they told me that they felt like that when they were younger, but it was just a phase they grew out of it and I would grow out of it soon enough.”

Blake – “I don’t think that has ever happened to me.”

Kephart – “No, that’s not applicable.”

Members of the LGBTQ+ community face these struggles daily. From choosing between gendered bathrooms to getting a job, LGBTQ+ members face a plethora of extra challenges that cisgender heterosexual people rarely encounter.