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  • Articles, Bullying, Confidence, Environment, GirlSpring.com, Interview, Lifestyle, Local, Mental Health, Relationships, School, Sexual Health, Social, Stress, Tough Questions, Writing

    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.

  • Environment, Lifestyle, Local, Misc, Social, Tips

    Pride Month Safety

    Pride Month

    Some Tips on How to Stay Safe During Pride Events.

    As many of you may know PRIDE month is right around the corner. For those who don’t know what pride month is here’s a definition: The month of June was chosen for LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. As a result, many pride events are held during this month to recognize the impact LGBT people have had in the world. ( Wikipedia ) But in my words basically a celebration for the LGBTQ+ community!

    If you are planning on attending any PRIDE events, parades, parties, etc. Here are some safety tips you could use just in case.

    1. Stay with a friend or a group of friends: Often, when attacks have occurred the victim are usually alone leaving a party, at a party by themselves, or simply just walking home by themselves. If happen to find yourself alone stay as open in the public as you can and always check your surroundings. (even if you are just going to a bathroom)

    2. Drinking: If you’re an ADULT please drink responsibly!! And if you have had too much to drink please do NOT drive, have a friend take you home. ( I don’t advise taking an uber or lyft in that state of mind because you do not know the driver.)

    3. Have protection: I do not recommend any type of weapons on any occasion but if you are considering getting one: mace, taser, pepper spray, etc. Anything to protect yourself if an attacker approached you.

    4. Clubs: If you are planning on attending any type of club or public function check if there is security and if weapons are or aren’t allowed in the building. Also, be aware of emergency exits!!

    5. Last but not least… HAVE FUN!!!!: Pride Month is a month of celebration for being who you are! If you are looking for events to attend you can ask a friend you trust or look up events in your area. If you plan to attend one, BRING A FRIEND OR FRIENDS.

    If you are a teen in the Birmingham area, MCAC (Magic City Acceptance Center, http://www.magiccityacceptancecenter.org) has many great events coming up.

    If you are in the LGBTQ+ community and you are not out yet, I understand. Coming out isn’t easy, wait for when it’s perfect for you!!

    Happy Pride Month my loves, bri xx

  • Human Trafficking, Local

    Human Trafficking – When Evil Hides in Plain Sight

    Human Trafficking

    Human Trafficking

    When Evil Hides in Plain Sight

    By Maggie Thompson

    There are more human slaves today than ever before in history.

    Generating up to $35 billion annually, human trafficking has become one of the greatest human rights challenges of this century. In the United States (U.S.), there is a 147-mile stretch of Interstate 20 between Atlanta, Georgia, and Birmingham, Alabama called “Sex Trafficking Superhighway.”

    Shockingly, 40% of human trafficking in the U.S. happens in the South. This is primarily due to the surrounding international travel hubs such as Atlanta and Houston. Although trafficking is so globally prevalent, it remains in the shadows of society. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) African American Studies program hosted a documentary screening and panel discussion on human trafficking in September (2017). Carlon Harris, an African American studies major and graduating senior, made and presented the documentary. 

    Through his research, Harris is hoping to transform the subject of human trafficking to an everyday conversation piece by localizing the issue and bringing awareness to the people of Birmingham. “Human trafficking happens 365 days of the year. So basically it can happen anytime, anywhere. Most victims, they will pass you,” Harris stated in an interview with Birmingham’s WBRC Fox 6 News. Kathy Taylor, a survivor, and human trafficking advocate is the center of Harris’ documentary. On camera, Taylor answered questions and shared some of her own experiences as a trafficking victim including the fact that her victimization began on a college campus.

    After the screening, panelists discussed the issues that accompany human trafficking, the steps law enforcement is taking towards prevention and what the public can do to help. The panelists included: Helen Smith of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sergeant Anthony Williams of Birmingham Police Department and Dr. Robert Blanton, UAB Professor of Government. 

    Human trafficking, which is fueled by poverty and gender discrimination, is estimated to surpass the drug trade industry in less than five years.

    Subsequently, traffickers are becoming more powerful and knowledgeable as society continues to allow the submergence of the massive issue modern slavery has become. Although it is primarily men that run this trade, women are also included. Pimps and Johns are common names for these men and women. They control and terrorize these victims. Victimizers use fraud, force and coercion to lure their victims into captivity, sometimes even using victims as bait.

    However, not all traffickers look or act the same.

    Human trafficking does not discriminate and it is nowhere near being transparent. Therefore, anyone can become a victim or a victimizer. Some victims find that their only option toward escape is to become a victimizer themselves and view the “promotion” from prostitute to pimp as a natural process.

    In conclusion, creating awareness is the first step towards ending human trafficking.

    Panels and organized events that educate the public on the facts of human trafficking can act as a gateway to major prevention as well as putting an end to what has become the greatest human rights challenges of this century. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Institute for Human Rights is working hard to promote prevention and awareness by informing students on the indicators of human trafficking and how to identify and help a potential victim.

    If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.
    For tips on how to stay safe and aware of your surroundings, click here, https://www.girlspring.com/?s=Human+Trafficking
    And for the Human Trafficking Hotline site, click here.
  • Articles, College, Local, TRENDING

    Interview With A DACA Affected Student: Caren Tinajer-Sanchez

    Caren Tinajer-Sanchez is a student affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) an American immigration policy that allows certain individuals who entered the U.S. illegally as minors to receive a renewable visa to be eligible for a work permit and attend college. Read about her experience below!

    Question: Can you tell me about yourself.
    A: My name is Caren Tinajero-Sanchez. I am currently a sophomore at The
    University of Alabama at Birmingham pursuing a degree in Nursing. I
    was born in Mexico City, Mexico and brought to Calera, Alabama at the
    age of 6. I have two older brothers and a younger one.

    Q: What were you dreaming of studying under DACA?
    A: With DACA my dreams of becoming a nurse were finally starting to
    come true. After getting a degree in nursing and working as a nurse, I
    wanted to go to Troy university and get a major in American Sign
    Language.

    Q: Explain your reaction when you heard that DACA would be
    terminated?

    A: After hearing the news that the DACA Act would be terminated, I felt
    that all my hard work was worthless, all the late-night studying was
    nothing, all the money and time in college would be a waste because,
    without DACA, I would not be able to attend college anymore and
    pursue my dreams.

    Q: Did you take any kind of action after you heard the news? If so, what
    A: Not really because I was in class when I found out the news but my
    campus, UAB, had already organized a solidarity rally the following
    day, and that’s when I knew it was time to fight harder so I decided to
    share my story.

    Q: What would you tell young girls who may relate to you?
    A: My advice for other young girls who may be related to me is that this is
    no time to panic instead we should make our voices stronger and let
    them be heard. We should not feel like we are alone because about 800,000 other dreams are in the same situation as us and only together we can overcome this bump on our road to success.

    Q: What do you think would be helpful for readers to get out of your interview?
    A: I want readers to understand that we, DACA recipients, were brought
    here as children and did not know any better. The only thing our parents
    were looking for was a better future as well as a safer country. Many
    people have a misconception about what DACA provides for us. DACA
    gives us a two-year renewable work permit. With the work permit we
    are allowed to get a driver license and go to college. With DACA we are
    not allowed to receive any kind of help from the government such as
    financial aid or scholarships.

    Q: How can readers help?
    A: If you want to help, call your congressman and let them know you
    support DACA. You can also go out to rallies and let your voices be
    hear that you want DACA to continue or a more permanent solution.

    Thank you Caren Tinajer-Sanchez for sharing your experience!

  • Articles, Health, Local, Travel

    ZYP Bike Sharing with GirlSpring

    Birmingham introduced ZYP Bikes to the community in 2015. ZYP is a bike sharing program that allows individuals to “explore Birmingham on two wheels.” Since its debut, I have personally ridden the ZYP bikes twice. You wouldn’t think bike riding would be so fun, but it is definitely an unforgettable experience when you try it with friends. Many people do indeed already ride bikes, but many of us have not touched one for years. They say it’s a skill you never forget and boy are they right!
    A few days ago on March 28, I was given the opportunity to try ZYP bikes again with GirlSping! We got our bikes from the station near Innovation Depot and from there, we went to Linn Park, 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, and several buildings like the Alabama Power building and the Regions building, both sponsors of ZYP bikes.
    The process is very easy. Once you buy a pass, you unlock the ride from the station dock and return it in 45 minutes. If you haven’t finished riding, you’ll simply need to take the bike back out after using your pass. You can repeat this as long as your pass is still active. ZYP bike sharing is fun whether you’re just getting familiar with the city or even if you’ve been here almost your whole life. It’s rewarding to realize you can actually still ride a bike! But it’s also a good way to see your city in a different way.