- October 13, 2015
On October 6, HRC launched the Campaign For Youth to raise awareness concerning the issues LGBTQ youth face on a daily basis across the United States. A major component of the initiative involved HRC members and supporters sharing their advice, words of support, and encouragement to LGBTQ youth.
HRC works everyday to support LGBT youth through programs like Welcoming Schools and All Children-All Families. Nevertheless, we were overwhelmed by the response from the community. Take a look at some of the inspirational messages we received and submit your own advice:
- “The most important aspect of life is to be happy, not to make others happy. Go live your life and don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. People are going to try and convince you that you're wrong, or you can change, but that’s untrue. Just learn to love yourself for who you are and then you will finally be happy. My family is not supportive, and yours may not be either, but that is only a minor setback. I have connected with the gay community in my area, and to be honest I think I have found my family. So my advice to you is, don't be afraid to express who you are, go connect with the LGBT community in your area. Because when you do, you'll finally realize what it means to be understood and unconditionally accepted. You'll finally be home.” Robbie, Georgia
- “My advice to any transgender youth is -- don't give up. It does get better. I know these are very generic sounding pieces of advice, but they're true. I remember so many nights feeling caged in, as I feared what my parents would say, but knowing how much I hated living and presenting as the gender I was assigned. Coming out may be hard. Your parents might not take it well, but don't give up hope for them. It took my dad three years. It took my mom a little over a year. But they came around. Kids at school didn't understand, but I tried to educate them. Things got a lot better when I did come out. And it gave a lot of other kids the courage to do it too. I was the first trans* person to come out at my school, and now I know several more. It does get better. You're not alone in this. The freedom of being yourself is so freeing. There's no other feeling like it. When you feel it is time for you, absolutely come out. You are strong. You are stronger than any of the negative feedback you fear. You will give hope to other LGBT members who may also be suffering and feeling alone.” Bucky, South Carolina
- “Being LGBT in rural or conservative areas can feel so isolating and lonely, but sometimes the most surprising people turn out to be your allies. If you can, find the courage to tell just one person. Taking that huge step can open up a door, and having even one person on your side can make an enormous difference. Cultivate friendships with people who are kind and respectful and who share common interests with you; they're much more likely to support you if/when you decide to come out. It's a scary leap, but one that's worth taking. Even if you're terrified the first few times you come out (like I was), pretty soon it'll be second nature. Believe it or not, most people's reaction is, ‘So what?’ You don't have to be alone and afraid just because you don't live in a big city or a ‘liberal’ area. I was nervous nearly to the point of nausea the first few times I came out, and now I have an amazing group of friends, family, and chosen family who love me unconditionally. I never would have believed it when I was 16, but I'm here to tell you that love and connection and friendship are out there for all of us.” Kirsten, Texas
- “Be yourself. Be yourself in the face of people who want you to conform to their stereotypes. Be yourself in a sea of others trying to make you "normal." Be yourself even when it feels like that's the hardest thing you've ever had to do. Be yourself because while everyone else is working so hard to be like everyone else, you'll be living your life more fully than they can even imagine. You don't have to have it all figured out yet, but taking steps to being who you truly want to be will make you believe in yourself again.” Evan, Ohio
- “I am an older, straight, cisgender, white male. I am of a generation where being LGBT was even less accepted than it is today. But, that doesn't mean I am narrow-minded, or am unwilling to accept LGBT youth as they are and value them for what they may have as a potential for their future or how they may contribute to their community. My advice to an LGBT young person would be to not make any assumptions about how people my age, race, gender or orientation will react to you based upon you being LGBT. You may be surprised to learn that you are not alone, you have allies, and that there are people in your community, not matter where that community may be, who will support you as individuals without concern to your sexual orientation or self-identified gender.” Robert, Idaho
- “I have a 14-year-old granddaughter who is a lesbian. When she told us, we told her she was loved. What I want for her is to make good choices. Be a good person, be fair and honest. I want her to be kind, a good friend to others, and be reliable and responsible. These are all things that she can control. Being LBGT is not a choice. It's who you are. My wish is simply for her to be the best person she can be, and to always be herself.” Colleen, New York
- “The battle you fight is hard, but you do not have to do it alone. Ask for help when you need it and help others when you can. You will be awestruck when you discover how many people care deeply about you, so don't ever quit looking for them, and never, ever give up on yourself. You are loved. You are valuable. You are important. And you will change so many other people for the better if you allow yourself the chance.” Rebecca, West Virginia
- “It took me almost 37 years to finally accept I was bisexual. And sitting in two different worlds and cultures is a sometimes defeating feeling. It can feel like you don't belong. There are straight and gay people who challenge me, dismiss me, and deny me of being me. But I know now, and I want you to know, that this is rapidly changing and more and more people accept my bisexuality. I urge you to continue to express yourself, be yourself, and, for heaven’s sake, don't wait as long as I did!” Darren, Georgia
- “I was born into a staunchly conservative Southern Baptist family in rural north Alabama. I realized I was different at a very early age. I was continuously told I was loved, but out of those same mouths came statements about how God hated homosexuals and those people were the most despicable thing known. Not only was I condemned, but it was clear the love of my family and community was predicated on who they thought I was versus who I was. There were many days I wanted to run away or even take my life. Fortunately, there were educated people in my community who recognized my worth. They nurtured my talents and gift, but more importantly, they kept telling me how bright my future was going to be. I would strongly encourage young people, particularly in rural areas, to seek out those that make themselves available to you. Don't be afraid to talk about your dreams and aspirations, regardless what they are. Avoid the haters as much as possible. I didn't have a choice but to go to the Church that condemned me every Sunday, but I learned to focus on the love and grace of Christ, versus what an ignorant man in the pulpit was saying. Life will get better. You will find your chosen family and the community of friends who love and celebrate YOU!” John Michael, Texas
- “You may not have an ally at home or within your place of worship. You may not know of allies at school or on your sports teams. But know we are here -- we are scattered throughout society and are ready to love and support you!” Monica, Illinois
It's important for young people to think carefully about the right time to come out and to identify the person or people you feel are most likely to be accepting. While it is important to be out about who you are--and brave to do so -- it isn't always safe.
For resources to help you on your journey, visit HRC’s Coming Out Center.