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    Deciding To Come Out

    coming out

    ( Author’s Note: This website is for women empowerment. Men and Women can be feminist, therefore there are some males in this article.
    bri xx )

    Coming Out

    Coming out and discovering your sexuality is a really touchy subject and not everyone is comfortable with talking about their experiences. Although, it is a sensitive subject I know people (especially those who aren’t out yet) like to hear other LGBTQ+ coming out stories. Everyone’s story, of course, will be different! Some were accepted while others maybe weren’t. I had an okay experience which made me very curious about what other LGBTQ+ peoples’ experiences were. This led me to interview a few people with different cultural backgrounds to see how their experience went. I asked them all the same four questions.

    Here are their responses:

    Hayden Robinson
    Current Age: N/A
    Age You Came Out: 15
    Gender: Male
    Sexuality: Gay

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    During middle school, it felt kind of awkward walking through the underwear aisles. He started to realize when he had a crush on rapper Flo Rida.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    It all was a bit of a process, the first person he told was already a part of the LGBTQ+ community. He told them over Instagram demos, but then told them to delete their conversation. Then in November, he told his sister. The next month, he told his mom, and the month after that, his father. Soon, he told his stepmother on Valentine’s Day. Eventually, he told his close friends, but he still wasn’t out to everyone which affected his mental health. So, one Friday afternoon, he made a Snapchat story saying he was gay.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Most of them knew already. Sister thought it was awesome that they could talk about boys together. Mom took it hard and was scared. Dad was kind of quiet and didn’t ask many questions besides how long did he know he was a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Stepmom didn’t think it was a big deal.
    Friends were excited and pretty much already knew it.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    He is very happy about it! He would not be where he is today if he hadn’t come out. His family and friends are also still very supportive.

    Linus
    Current Age: 16
    Age You Came Out: 14
    Gender: Female
    Sexuality: Queer / Doesn’t really like labels though.

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    Younger, people would say a lot of homophobic things and she would take up for the LGBTQ+ community, not really realizing she was just standing up for herself.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    It wasn’t really formal, she just kind of talked about a crush who was apart of the LGBTQ+ community.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Overall, friends acted normally while one “friend” tried to fully push her out of the closet which resulted in her cutting them off.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    She’s only out to friends, but is happy about making that decision. She plans on coming out to family when ready.

    Carter

    Current Age: 15 turning 16
    Age You Came Out At: 12
    Gender: Transgender Male
    Sexuality: Bisexual

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    The first time was when he was in a hospital and met people a part of that community. During that time, he was given a chest binder and a packer and decided to try it.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    He came out as bisexual when he was twelve around thanksgiving time. He came out as transgender at fourteen.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Friends weren’t accepting at all and didn’t really understand it.
    Mom was giving him the talk when he came out as bisexual and was okay with it. Dad didn’t really care, but questioned if he was really sure he was bisexual. When coming out as transgender, his mom was confused and not accepting. She thought he was too young to make that decision. Four years later, Mom has accepted it but doesn’t want him to make rash decisions.
    Parents told teachers to call him a different name but didn’t tell them that he is transgender.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    Yes and No, he’s still battling with a couple of different things. Wishes he hadn’t told friends, but glad he came out to his family otherwise he would still be confused about things.

    Jamiah
    Current Age: 16
    Age You Came Out At: 15
    Gender: Female
    Sexuality: Lesbian

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community

    In seventh grade. The first year at a new school and decided that she wasn’t attracted to guys anymore.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    Made the decision to come out because she didn’t want to hide anymore and just wanted to be honest with herself.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Mom and Brothers already knew and did not care nor treat her differently. Dad doesn’t know and is not gonna tell him because she feels he just won’t understand. Friends were really happy and weren’t really shocked.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    Yes, Very Happy. She was just tired of hiding it and finally happy she can be open about her relationships.

    Talking with these individuals opened my eyes a lot.

    You always hear stories about people’s coming out experiences. Some are like a happy fairy tale ending. Some are not so happy and end with people taking their own lives. Not everyone is gonna be accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, but every individual has a right to express themselves and not be treated differently or less than anyone else in this world. Coming out is not the easiest to do so wait until you’re ready and are comfortable with sharing it to friends, family or anyone. Don’t let anyone force you to do anything you don’t want to do. If you are not comfortable with coming out, it’s perfectly fine, no pressure, but know that, even if it doesn’t feel like it, there are many people out there who love and support you.

    If you do come out and you start to experience verbal, physical, emotional abuse or any form of bullying, tell someone. Don’t let other people’s stupidity make you feel bad about being yourself. Hopefully, reading other people’s stories helped or educated you a little bit on how different everyone’s reactions and how it changed or didn’t change their lives.

    much love,
    bri xx

    Everyone deserves to feel comfortable being themself, gay, straight, bi, trans, whatever! Check out some tips on being comfortable in your own skin.

    If you are thinking about coming out but don’t know how to, or have more questions than you can count, look at the Human Right’s Campaign’s Coming Out Resource Guide.

  • Articles, Bullying, GirlSpring.com

    The Past Has Past

    free from the past

    My experience in high school wasn’t the best. I can now easily close my eyes and remember hundreds of bad stories: that first day when I was called gross and fat, another when someone threw a shoe at me, one of my many birthdays that no one attended, how much I suffered at P.E. class.

    I admire myself sometimes. I remember how young I was, all I had to go through, and how despite all of it, I never quit. I showed up, day after day to school, even though there were so many excuses I wanted to use to stay at home, where I could safely watch TV and get hugs from my mom.

    But now I’m 21 (almost 22!) years old, and I’ve done so much. I’ve become a fully grown woman, I’ve done huge efforts to change so many things that I didn’t like about me. Just to name a few things: I’ve lived abroad on my own twice, fell in love so many times, found new amazing friends, won awards at University, and had 2 great jobs. So… how come I can’t forget my high school years? How come I still get sad or angry when I remember the bad times?

    I like to think that these stories turned me into the person that I am today. I can see the glass half empty and say “I should be so sad that these things happened!”, or I can do the right thing, which is knowing that they have indeed turned me into who I am, because I am a warrior.

    Yes, a warrior! I’m a girl with dreams and hopes and I’m willing to overcome whatever challenge that gets in front of me. I’m unstoppable, and I have the power to achieve whatever I want.

    And for any girls in high school (or in any stage in life, because unfortunately, grown-ups can be as mean as children sometimes) experiencing bullying: You’re better than this. I know sometimes it feels like they are right, and all those things they say or do get to you. I know you don’t understand why this is happening, or why you deserve this — and truth is, you don’t. But you’re strong, you can get through it. So many people love you, and your current reality doesn’t define you.

    When I was younger and crying in the high school bathroom because someone had called me something, it truly felt like that was the only way things would ever be. But now I can say that life has given me so many more beautiful memories than those. And while it is true that on some bad nights I close my eyes and remember the ugly times, I can only be thankful for them: they have turned me into the amazing person I am today, and the even more wonderful one I will be in the future.

  • Bullying, Home Life, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Stress

    Broken Glass: Short Story

    Jenna Prez raced home from school blood dripping down her face as the bruise on her forehead pulsates. She didn’t take much time throwing her bookbag down and running off to the bathroom the check the damage. She stares in the mirror not cleaning herself up but letting the blood drip from her mouth, and tears from her eyes. Why can’t the leave us alone, she thinks, can’t they mind their own business. Jenna goes to an all girl catholic high school where she met her first girlfriend, Regina Price. She had always known she was not attracted to boys, but until Regina, she wasn’t sure she was attracted to anyone. They had kept their relationship ‘on the down low’ for the past three months enjoying the secrecy of their teenage love. They would go on secret dates and hold hands pretending only to be best friends. There secret was well hidden until today when another girl, Janet Kinkle, saw Jenna kiss Regina on the cheek under the bleachers during gym. Jenna and Regina were unaware of Janet’s presence until they got back to the locker room where six of Janet’s friends were waiting on them. As soon as Jenna and Regina walked through the door, the other girls pummeled them to the floor scratch and punching them while yelling derogatory terms for lesbians. The coach, eventually, heard the commotion and broke up what was going to seem like a fight and not a clear attack on two innocent girls. Jenna and Regina were sent to the office for their misbehavior and were sentenced to three days of suspension while also having a call to home for what they had been hiding. The principal didn’t punish the other girls because she understood why they were enraged by this ‘immoral’ behavior. Jenna hears a loud knocking on the bathroom door, and she checks the time on her apple watch. Her mother was home from work. She builds up the courage she can and opens the door, and as soon as she meets her mother’s eyes, she is slammed into the door by her mother’s hand. Her mother slapped her across the face with tears in her eyes stating Jenna would never see Regina again, and she is disgusting. Her mother walks away, and Jenna shuts the door once again staring at herself in the mirror- not crying or speaking-only staring. She had no one in her life who fully accepted her but Regina, and now Regina was gone. Jenna was completely alone. Her breathing becomes heavy, and she slams her fist into the mirror breaking her reflection.

  • Articles, Bullying

    Hey Bullies, It’s not Cool to Be Cruel

    It's Not Cool to Be Cruel

    No Bullies Allowed.

    Tips on How to Handle Being Bullied

    Being the center of attention can be nerve-wracking if it is not handled properly. Some people aspire to be the most popular person in the room. Others cringe at the thought of it. Nonetheless, being the center of attention calls for a lot of people to watch your every move. With this being said, sometimes the limelight brings unpleasant people who say and do things that aren’t so nice.

    These people are called bullies.

    In some form or fashion, we have all had a childhood bully. They are never easy to deal with. One of the first bullies that I ever had was when I was in the seventh grade. She ended up stealing my iPod too. A few other times it usually had something to do with how I did my hair and people would say it was flakey and I needed to wash it. It was usually condescending and in a way. People used to make fun of how I talk since it isn’t conventionally feminine. Others used to take jabs about how I dressed or spoke. Essentially, it made me feel terrible about myself. I wouldn’t talk to anyone about how those situations made me feel because I thought that I had no one to talk to.

    Ultimately, I learned that the goal of a bully is to make you feel bad about yourself.

    As said on www.psychologytoday.com, “Bullying is repeated, aggressive behavior…that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. Its purpose is to deliver physical or psychological harm to another person. [They] operate by making their victims feel alone and powerless.” When I noticed that this was their end goal, to make feel a way in which I could not understand, I had to learn to find true confidence from solitude and isolation.

    A lot of people did not understand me growing up. I was uncanny and they thought that my kindness made me an easy target. On top of being socially awkward, I was quite shy and introverted because not communicating the things that harmed me made me feel better. Plus, it was easier to not say anything and keep going with life rather than confront the issue. Again, I learned rather quickly that allowing people to walk all over you would not be a justifiable reason for letting people know when they have hurt you.

    Being assertive and confident created a path to holding others accountable for their wrongdoings. For me, it was not always easy doing so. It takes a lot of self-awareness to be able to tell people when they are wrong, but it is needed. Bullies do not have the power or authoritative order over you; they want you to feel inferior, but know and understand that you are in charge of your own life and safety. Do not fret if the end result is not what you expected. You have to stay consistent and remind these bullies of who is in charge.

    Makayla Smith is a third-year student at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She is interning at GirlSpring.
  • Bullying

    The Truth About Your Voice on Social Media

    Girlspring social media

    When I first started middle school, we passed notes on little pieces of paper until the paper was nothing more than a grey scale.

    It was our version of texting. It was tedious and involved a system of people willing to pass them back and forth for you. There was always the risk that someone you didn’t want to see or read it would, but it was a risk we were willing to take.

    I remember a girl in my sixth grade English class being made fun of in a series of notes. The class kept passing them back and forth for some hateful little girls without seeing the contents of what they were sharing. This went on for days, with the girls snickering in secret.

    Then my teacher caught wind of the notes passing and halted one of their letters before it reached the second reader of the day. I won’t repeat what was said, but just know that the girl who the note was about left the room in tears. The mean girls looked horrified. They didn’t think what they were saying was that big of a deal.

    They felt that there were no consequences for something that was written down versus spoken aloud. This would have been true if the teacher had never apprehended the letter. Or would it have been?

    Would it still be mean if the person you were writing about never knew you were writing hurtful things about them?

    This brings me to the topic of Social Media. As our technology grows, so do the opportunities for communication. What was once a simple note in the classroom is now a string of characters on someone’s Twitter feed.

    This gives more power to the speaker or texter. The words that are posted online are there for the public eye and will forever have a paper trail. With all chances to be good, there are equal amounts of chances to be bad. It is what balances the world, but it is something that does not have to support us. As a human race, we can choose to find other measures of entertainment and morals rather than basing them on being horrific to others.

    Unfortunately, there is a sort of confidence boost when we don’t have to see the consequences of our actions.

    Those girls from my sixth-grade class eventually apologized to the girl they hurt, and notes were banned from the classroom. But this did not stop people from sneaking more notes around. It did, however, change the mean girls’ opinions on what they put on paper.

    With social media, there is no immediate action. Even if a series of posts are written concerning something hateful, it could take days before an adult does something to handle it. And too often do we hear that we should ignore our bullies and let them get away with it simply because we are “the better person.” A better person would let them know that what they are doing is wrong.

    If they can use their platform to spit fire, then you can use yours to voice positivity.

    If someone is mean to you on social media, try responding to them once with a heartfelt comment on why what they are saying is problematic for you. Then, seek adult advice or council. You are not what those people say about you. You are what you make of yourself.

    It is okay to seek help from friends, family, or professionals when you are feeling uneasy about something. With so many paper receipts for posts today, there will always be evidence of how the other person hurt you. But in the end, it will affect when they try to get hired for a job. Or if someone is doing a character assessment?

    Try to blend the idea of ignoring your bullies and facing them together. Give them a single response at the start, then move on with your life. If they realize that you aren’t going to bite, they may just get bored. But at least you will have publicly announced how terrible they are behaving and have addressed the issue before moving on.

    If what people are saying about you online is getting deep beneath your skin, you are not alone.

    Everyone experiences self-doubt, insecurities, and sometimes depression. It is up to you how to handle it when you face it. I will provide some links below that can help guide you through some tough social media situations. Hopefully, some of them will be relatable and helpful if you’re in this situation:

    https://www.girlspring.com/what-you-can-do/

    https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ abuse/bullying-and-cyberbullying.htm

    https://us.ditchthelabel.org/cyber-bullying-top-9-tips-on-overcoming-it/

    https://www.girlspring.com/cyberbullying/

     

    Some key tips for dealing with social media drama, whether it is being bullied or unfairly treated:

    Remain professional or as adult-like as possible

    Give short answers when your words become too aggressive

    Remind yourself that this is public information and that future employers will likely have access to it

    Think of positive thoughts

  • Body Image, Bullying, Dating

    Love is Setting Boundaries: When Boundaries Aren’t Respected

    In a relationship, both people have the right to set their own boundaries AND have those boundaries respected, no matter what. But what happens if someone crosses a line? How do you deal with it? Here’s what to consider if…

    …Your Relationship Is Safe:

    In a healthy relationship, open communication is crucial. If your partner does something that upsets you or makes you uncomfortable, you have a right to address it with them. If you don’t have any safety concerns and you feel like your relationship is in a pretty healthy place, having a conversation with your partner about a boundary violation could be really helpful. Depending on the situation, you can address it as soon as it happens, or you can take some time to think about what you want to say. It might even help to write down what you want to say before talking with your partner.

    For example, let’s imagine you and your partner are hanging around the house and your partner slaps your butt as you’re walking past. If that makes you uncomfortable, in that moment you could say, “Hey, I’m not ok with that,” and take your conversation from there. But if you and your partner are out to dinner with family and your partner does something that makes you uncomfortable, you might feel like it’s best to wait until the two of you are alone to bring it up. Either way, you do have a right to say something to your partner.

    When discussing the situation, use “I” statements (ex. “I feel this way when…”), and talk with your partner about why the boundary was crossed and any steps you can both take to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Being able to hold each other accountable is part of building a healthy relationship.

    …Your Relationship Might Not Be Safe:

    If your partner is repeatedly crossing your boundaries, they aren’t willing to discuss boundaries with you, or you notice that your partner is guilt-tripping you for even having boundaries, your relationship is likely very unhealthy and could become abusive if your partner’s behaviors continue and escalate.

    If you are in an unhealthy relationship and a boundary is crossed, having a conversation with your partner may not be a safe option for you. You do have the right to be firm and clear about your boundaries, because you always deserve to have your boundaries respected, but it is also important to consider your safety. You might talk to a trusted friend or family member or chat with a loveisrespect peer advocate, and try thinking about whether or not this is a relationship in which you can feel safe and respected. It’s important to remember that if someone doesn’t respect you, they won’t respect your boundaries, and vice versa.

    You might also consider documenting any instances of harmful or abusive behavior in case you decide to file a protective order or get legal help in the future. Having your thoughts or feelings written or saved somewhere where your partner can’t access them may also work as a reminder of times you were hurt or major boundaries were crossed, in case you ever start to question yourself or believe the abuse was your fault (hint: it never is).

    …Your Relationship Is Definitely Not Safe:

     

    Maybe you’ve realized that your relationship is abusive and your partner isn’t a safe person to talk to about your boundaries. What now? If your partner isn’t allowing for you to be safe, it might be time to consider leaving the relationship. Breaking up can be really difficult, especially when feelings are involved, and if your relationship is abusive breaking up might also be dangerous. You have a right to make your safety a top priority, so it’s important to have a plan in place for how you can break up safely or stay safe in the meantime. You might talk to someone in your support system about what’s going on.

    We recognize that your safety is the top priority and you are the best person to decide what is right for you. If you want to talk about your plan to stay safe whether you want to stay in a relationship or you feel ready to leave. To talk to an advocate, call 1-866-331-9474, text loveis to 22522 or visit loveisrespect.org to chat via our website 24/7!

  • Bullying, School

    What You Can Do

    Are you being bullied? Do you see bullying at your school? There are things you can do to keep yourself and the kids you know safe from bullying.

    Treat Everyone with Respect

    Nobody should be mean to others.

    • Stop and think before you say or do something that could hurt someone.
    • If you feel like being mean to someone, find something else to do. Play a game, watch TV, or talk to a friend.
    • Talk to an adult you trust. They can help you find ways to be nicer to others.
    • Keep in mind that everyone is different. Not better or worse. Just different.
    • If you think you have bullied someone in the past, apologize. Everyone feels better.

     

    What to Do If You’re Bullied

    There are things you can do if you are being bullied:

    • Look at the kid bullying you and tell him or her to stop in a calm, clear voice. You can also try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard.
    • If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, walk away and stay away. Don’t fight back. Find an adult to stop the bullying on the spot.

    There are things you can do to stay safe in the future, too.

    • Talk to an adult you trust. Don’t keep your feelings inside. Telling someone can help you feel less alone. They can help you make a plan to stop the bullying.
    • Stay away from places where bullying happens.
    • Stay near adults and other kids. Most bullying happens when adults aren’t around.

     

    Protect Yourself from Cyberbullying

    Bullying does not always happen in person. Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that happens online or through text messages or emails. There are things you can do to protect yourself.

      • Always think about what you post. You never know what someone will forward. Being kind to others online will help to keep you safe. Do not share anything that could hurt or embarrass anyone.
      • Keep your password a secret from other kids. Even kids that seem like friends could give your password away or use it in ways you don’t want. Let your parents have your passwords.
      • Think about who sees what you post online. Complete strangers? Friends? Friends of friends? Privacy settings let you control who sees what.
      • Keep your parents in the loop. Tell them what you’re doing online and who you’re doing it with. Let them friend or follow you. Listen to what they have to say about what is and isn’t okay to do. They care about you and want you to be safe.
      • Talk to an adult you trust about any messages you get or things you see online that make you sad or scared. If it is cyberbullying, report it.

     

    Stand Up for Others

    When you see bullying, there are safe things you can do to make it stop.

        • Talk to a parent, teacher, or another adult you trust. Adults need to know when bad things happen so they can help.
        • Be kind to the kid being bullied. Show them that you care by trying to include them. Sit with them at lunch or on the bus, talk to them at school, or invite them to do something. Just hanging out with them will help them know they aren’t alone.

    Not saying anything could make it worse for everyone. The kid who is bullying will think it is ok to keep treating others that way.

    Get Involved

    You can be a leader in preventing bullying in your community.

          • Find out more about where and when bullying happens at your school. Think about what could help. Then, share your ideas. There is a good chance that adults don’t know all of what happens. Your friends can go with you to talk to a teacher, counselor, coach, or parent and can add what they think.
          • Talk to the principal about getting involved at school. Schools sometimes give students a voice in programs to stop bullying. Be on a school safety committee. Create posters for your school about bullying. Be a role model for younger kids.
          • Write a blog, letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or tweet about bullying.

    From more information: stopbullying.gov