Jonathan's story : My experience as a gay youth
If I were asked to describe my experience as a gay youth, words would include confusion, fear, anxiety, severe depression and thoughts of suicide. The pain of being alone, with no one to talk too, and when no one seemed to understand was hard. In today’s society, being a gay youth is one of the most difficult things. Being treated differently from everyone else is tough enough, but the influence of a homophobic society makes life even more trying.
I’ve been treated differently in so many situations because I am gay. Not only do I feel that my sexuality plays a big role in my life, I sometimes think that my personality and abilities are over looked, and I am only seen as “the gay guy”. Being open about myself leaves me feeling uncomfortable at certain times because my safety might become endangered. Even a simple activity like going out to the bar on Saturday night can carry the risk of violence. Living with fears, even in my young adult years, has become a way of life and the worst part is, I find many to be realistic. These fears keep me safe.
Homophobia has affected my life since an early age. I remember recess being stressful, rather than the 15-minute “break” everyone else enjoyed. In Grade 6, I came inside the school, only to find the entire back of my jacket covered in spit. It took only seconds for me to figure out how this had happened. Of course I knew WHY it had happened. As my back was turned, a group of boys in grade 8 had spit on me. Staff, offering to help clean my jacket offered no emotional support whatsoever. I remember the strength it took to keep tears from filling my eyes. I was embarrassed, angry and confused. Something I had been dealing with all of my life, and something I NEVER wanted to deal with again.
Homophobia continued into high school, and progressively became worse; in the sense that assaults were filled with more hate and physical violence. The ignorance of not only the students, but also some staff poisoned the environment further. I felt powerless after repeatedly asking administration for help but not receiving any. The vice principal advised me to pick my battles more wisely. I was discouraged to the point that I constantly reminded myself, “high school will not last forever”.
A year after high school in a new place….
It’s surprising how escaping a toxic environment can change a person. I blossomed even more this year after I separated myself from most of the negativity. But as the discrimination in my life disappears, the smaller amounts that I still DO experience seem less overwhelming to deal with.
With self-respect and an open mind, everything works out in the end.