Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Self-Entitled

by Dodo Charles

Yet again faced with a lack of Muse, I decided to write about something close to my heart. I don't feel that this changes who I am as a person, but others do. That is not okay. So, here I am, imparting things about myself that I hope will help others. I appreciate that I will have some people who might be offended by this, but I hope that the majority are just accepting of who I am as a person.

I am a Lesbian.

There is no other way to describe my orientation- I sadly tried kidding myself that I was pansexual or bisexual, because at first I was not comfortable with it. I felt that being a lesbian was something that I needed to hide, because it wasn't normal, because people would bully me. So I hid behind layers of meaning. Yes, I had come out as being gay to my parents and friends, but I wasn't fully out of the "closet".

Although in many respects I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me, in many I didn't- I was still lying to myself. It affected me as a person, and left me with issues that went much deeper. I actually came out to my brother first- it just sort of fell out of my mouth on a walk. Not sure who was actually more shocked... I feel ashamed to say this, but I only very recently came out to my parents, and even then I didn't fully intend to. I remember sitting down at the dinner table with my mum and sister. Naturally, being a ten year old, my sister was quizzing me about who I liked. I accidentally let it slip that I was dating someone. But before this happened I had been talking about pride and the meaning of "gay". Had it not been for my sister saying that "gay" meant "happiness and a man and a man or a woman and a woman loving each other very much", I most likely would have lied to them on the spot. Instead, I very calmly revealed that I had a girlfriend. This was a huge step, and I feared the worst, but in the end, my mum just smiled and said that it was okay. My sister also asked if she was allowed to tell all her friends about it- I’m still not sure what to think about this...

My fear had been unnecessary.

I should clarify, however, that, although coming out can relieve a huge amount of pressure because you no longer have to hide things, there can be negative side effects. I don't see the point in sugar coating it, because the truth is important. (Before anyone starts asking, I should mention that the soon-to-be-referenced friend is from outside of school. And so, I continue.) My best friend was not accepting of this information. She told me that it was wrong and that I should stop. However, this was only after she had at first asked me if I was "joking". Because I would joke about coming out. I don't think that it is okay that we are living in a society, where someone can come out, and then be accused of lying/joking. Just think about how it made me feel. I was nervous to be coming out to anyone at all, and then I had it shoved in my face. Of course, after she publicly voiced her opinion to me and my then-girlfriend, I decided that she was not the friend I wanted to spend time with... She further consolidated this by saying that if I didn't dump my girlfriend she would never talk to me again. I didn't dump my girlfriend. 

Fortunately, I don't often take things to heart, but it still sickens me the way that homophobic language is thrown around. Before coming out, each comment of "that’s so gay" or "gay" made me think that my sexual orientation was something to be ashamed of, something to hide. But why should it have been? Why are we growing up in a society where kids as young as nine are shouting out such derogatory comments, without even understanding the meaning, let alone the consequences? I most likely would have come out before, had I not thought that what I was feeling was something that needed to be concealed, in order to avoid the hatred of others.

I am not trying to put people off coming out- quite the contrary. The euphoric feeling you get from finally showing the world that you are not afraid counteracts the negativity you might receive. Yes I lost one of my oldest friends, but hopefully she will realise that she doesn’t need to be afraid, and I hope that one day she will be accepting enough that someone else won’t have to go through what I did. I have mainly received positive responses, and coming out has been one of the best things I have ever done. I finally feel able to live in my own skin, without putting up a front. I can finally be me.

However, it would have been so much easier had homophobia, both intentional and unintentional, not been prevalent in society. That is my main message: think about your actions and words; you don't know who is hearing them.

I am always willing if anyone wants to talk to me more about it, just find me around the quad.


(Portsmouth Grammar School has recently received accreditation as a Stonewall Champion, part of a programme that helps hundreds of schools from around the country to promote a safe and inclusive learning environment – empowering pupils and staff alike to celebrate difference and challenge prejudice)



5 comments:

  1. By far one of the most inspiring posts I have ever seen on this blog.

    I only hope it encourages others who may be afraid of speaking up, and encourages those who may think negatively to seriously consider the merit of their opinions.

    In our society there are still many walls of hatred and prejudice to break down, but if one person can take one action that makes a difference, those walls will fall sooner.

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  2. Nice article, very brave!

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  3. This is so profound, I just wish you didn't have to be this amazingly brave to be who you are

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  4. This shows how brave you really are Dodo! You are such a role model to other pupils and it's amazing that you have shared this. I really hope it encourages people who have felt uncertain about coming out feel they can now without worrying 'what people will think'.

    You can finally be you and that is amazing and proof of a strong character!

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  5. This is incredible; you are incredible! You are an inspiration to so many others and your strength to write such a moving and inspiring article is amazing - extremely happy for you and glad that you can now be yourself!

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