Everywhere we go, it is not difficult to hear and read messages about the importance of loving yourself. We turn on our Instagram and right beside a cute photo, we see something like: “you can’t love others if you can’t love yourself first” and many others similar quotes. When you’re someone different from the majority, it becomes a little trickier than that: to accept and love all the aspects of what makes you, you. That happened to me, and it is still happening.
I am a gay, cis woman. I have attended private, Catholic schools my entire student career. I know how lucky I am to have this opportunity- but as member of the LGBT community, sometimes I don’t feel so lucky. While having the funds to attend this schools and the privileges to be accepted, I am not truly accepted by the students, faculty, and staff because of how I love.
All my life, I have been pretty good at fitting in. Or at least, maintaining the appearance of fitting in. I lived with this idea in my head that I could become anyone I wanted to – anyone who’s better, who’s not weird, who’s somehow perfect. I grew up in Ukraine. A country now wrought with pain, trying to figure out its place in the world – somewhere between its communist, conservative past, and a bold, progressive future. I think it’s ironic how, in a lot of ways, my story overlaps with that of my country.
At 16 I liked the things a lot of boys did. I liked pretty girls, loud music, cheap beer, and dreaming about being a rock star. I’d formed a “band” with my best friend, there was only the two of us, and I wanted to be the lead singer, but couldn’t sing in tune, so settled for playing bass.
To start this tale, I guess we need to start at the beginning. So, you can see my upbringing and see why things ended up as they did. A little long, and a little dark, but bear with me.
My father is disabled, he has a rare form of MS that is extremely variable. From days he can walk 20 miles to days he cannot leave bed. He cannot work and hasn’t been able to since his late twenties. It took most of my life time of testing to even find out what was wrong with him. My mother gave up work to care for him, and then me when I was born. They lived in poverty, just trying to survive.
Often I’ve been told that life must be easy for me as a bisexual woman. That I’m too privileged to have any complaints. That I’m too busy sitting on a high unicorn on a parapet made of the sufferings of my rainbow kin because I am attracted to people of the different gender. Apparently my lot have no troubles at all to keep us down.
It’s hard to accept you are queer after growing up seeing how isolating it is. This concept, I believe, is hard for someone who isn’t a part of the LGBTQ community to fully comprehend. Often we are told that being gay isn’t a conscious decision; however, this notion of being “born this way” can be taken less seriously than it exists to be.