A Teen in the LGBT Community
June is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) pride month, to commemorate the Stonewall riots that took place on June 28, 1969 in New York City. The riots, which were against police raids discriminating upon sexual and gender minorities, stand as a symbol of LGBT advocacy and a refusal to remain silent against injustice. This year’s Pride Festival will be on June 21, 22, and 23 in Goodale Park.
In the month of June it’s important that we honor and pay homage to our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community members. Their historic struggle for fair treatment and equal rights on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is one to which we all owe a great amount of reverence and respect. As we have seen, this persistent drive for a much-deserved place at the table has largely paid off. More and more community leaders are feeling comfortable enough to “come out” and the conversation about lesbian and gay individuals’ rights is being amplified. In an effort to recognize and pay tribute to the determination and resounding successes of LGBT-identifying individuals around the world, I would like to share some of my personal experiences as a gay-identifying teenager here in the Central Ohio area.
I’d like to start off by pointing out that my situation growing up was very unique in that I was (and still am to this day) blessed and fortunate enough to have experienced an incredible amount of love and support from my friends and family in terms of what I did and who I have become. If it had not been for this tightly-bound support structure woven together by those closest to me, I would be nowhere near the person I am today. Prior to my coming out, I can recall feeling as if I was journeying through life as nothing more than a passive and distant spectator. I felt as if I was simply bearing witness to the rest of the world as it passed me by – never engaged, never truly living, just existing.
Fast forwarding to the middle of my sophomore year when I decided I was tired of hiding in the shadows and came out. As I navigated the uncharted waters of finding ways to express my newfound identity, my family and friends were with me every step of the way. Although rocky at first, they never left my side. This outpouring of acceptance and support was absolutely crucial to instilling within me the ability to believe in myself as well as to recognize the incredible amount of potential I had inside of me.
Pushing the clock forward to today, I cannot even begin to thank enough those individuals who believed in me and, in doing so, allowed me to strive for my full potential. I am now heavily involved in the local LGBT community and am extremely proud to live here in the Central Ohio area. In just this past year, I have experienced an immense amount of life-changing support and encouragement in terms of my own identity and the work I do to contribute to the environment of acceptance and fairness we are fostering here in Ohio. Just some examples of this include the incredible amount of support my fellow students and I have experienced from the faculty and administration of Hilliard Davidson High School in forming our school’s Gay-Straight Alliance as well as the welcoming encouragement I have received from groups and organizations like PFLAG Columbus, BRAVO, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), AIDS Resource Center Ohio (ARCO), Stonewall Columbus, and, now, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio.
We have a wonderful community here in Central Ohio absolutely packed full of world-changing potential. It is inspiring to see the huge positive impact people are able to have on each other as well as the community at large when an onlooker takes the initiative to support and believe in them. By empowering individuals in this way, we are able to live in a world where all people, no matter who they are or where they come from, can do whatever it is that they strive to do and be whoever it is they have ever dreamt of being.
Written by Marshall Troxell