In most stories of GLBT people, there’s a silver lining. There’s always an obstacle that needs to be dealt with – dealing with one’s sexuality, coming out to friends and family, being rejected by family and loved ones or starting over – but there’s always a resolution there; a success. In our last issue we spoke to GLBT people young and old about the problems they’ve faced and the ways they’ve overcome these problems; everything seemed quite triumphant. Then, at the 11th-hour of the latest express magazine going out, we received a letter from a person who was struck by these stories of young and old. Not struck by the power of their words or their convictions, but struck by how vastly different their story is to those that were published.
While we haven’t decided if we’re going to publish this letter just yet, let it suffice to say that this isn’t a story with a happy ending. After years of homophobic bullying that bordered on the psychotic (both in the abuse’s execution and the response to the abuse), the writer continues to struggle with sexuality. When you grow up in a world that confuses you and virulently shuns you from a young age, how are you supposed to be comfortable with who you are? Without the tools to work through your feelings or the support to embark on a journey of understanding, how can you hold your head up high? As our writer puts it, “It gets better for most, but when your background becomes a habit of self-distrust, it just gets worse.”
It can be easy to miss these stories – those who are struggling can not always find the strength to speak up about injustice or persecution. So what can we do, as a community, to help these people find their strength? In the first instance, we can ask to hear more of these stories in order to get a better picture of what it’s like for people who aren’t doing so well. If you are reading this and would like to share your story, do send it in. Thinking deeper about the promotion of happy endings, it seems almost cruel to continue to tell the stories of successful GLBT people to those who are not succeeding – could those who are struggling feel like success is being rubbed in their faces? It would appear that even the most downtrodden find some solace in the stories of the strong and use their strength to help find their own. Our writer concludes, “My story is by far not over, but… I have no idea who would continue to read it.” His message for express readers? “Kia kaha, be strong, stand tall and experience life to your full potential.”
| Hannah JV