Meet Me Community Spotlight
"Being queer means you have the super power to CHOOSE your family..."
Ashley Romero - Youth Engagement Specialist
Prompt: How can being LGBTQ+ both complicate and enrich experiences in self-love, romantic love, familial love, & religious love?
It's very interesting that I got this question, considering the things that are currently happening in my life. Leaving a relationship where after the break up I realized…I was not fully out to my ex partner…she just assumed I was a lesbian because we were dating. And I never corrected her. It can sometimes feel like a pressure to label yourself or even to remain labeless so I often find myself trying to reconcile these things to be empathetic but remain authentic; sometimes we fluctuate and that's okay too!
I believe the awakening of stronger feelings for self-love and authenticity in my queerness came from the lack of acceptance from my ex-partner. She would constantly make bi-phobic comments, and though I understood where the pain came from in her attempts to reconcile with her traumas, it hurt to know that my own partner probably wouldn't have wanted to be with me if I made that distinction. Being LGBT+ can do that; be a space to be yourself, show your hurt, but also be a way not to deal with the trauma you've experienced. It can make you sad, make you afraid to move because you'll lose the relationship you've worked so hard to get, make you question your worth. But being queer can also be the most liberating thing in the world! Its made me realize that I have to keep working on my authentic self without changing my authenticity for someone else. I've met so many beautiful open-minded people and have shared some of my most cherished moments with people in my community. It allowed me to push myself into communicating intent, giving grace and empathy while allowing my personal growth to be freed of shame and pain. Shoutout to my brother for paving the way! [chuckle] I came out when I was in middle school and my brother had already come out before me. My mother was extremely supportive and didn’t make me feel ostracized at all. My sexuality was also something that I didn't have to worry about being displayed. I could love who I wanted in private. I understand that privilege I had - a healthy and supportive home as well as being able to pass for heteronormative. I also understood that it wasn't the norm, and I am so thankful that I was able to be raised in that environment that we all should have. I wish having a strong family was something that we all had in our community. It’s definitely something that has deeply enriched my self-love and gave me a strong sense of self. Not having to be thrust into a religion from a young age as my dad was adamantly against me being baptized when I didn't fully understand what that meant and opted into letting me choose when I got older. I can't say thank you enough to my parents and siblings. They gave me strength. The “I'm not living to please others” mentality is one of my greatest feats that I've learned from them, and I'm glad that I still have. I'll continue using it on my journey of complete authenticity - in all aspects of my life. Some words of advice from someone who understands my privileges. You have a community! Being queer means you have the super power to CHOOSE your family, if you don't have it currently with you. I know that sometimes nothing would feel better than having the ones who are supposed to love you unconditionally be the ones to grant you that validation, but you have to want more for yourself and know that you are WORTHY of more! We are here and we are waiting for you with open minds, arms, & hearts!