What is it like to be me?

Students open up about sexual and gender identity.

Definitions:

Gay- a person who is romantically or sexually attracted to people of the same sex.

Pansexual- a person who is romantically or sexualy attracted to people of any sexual orientation or gender identity.

Bisexual- a person who is romantically or sexually attracted to both men and women.

Transgender- a person whose gender identity does not correspond to that person’s biological sex assigned at birth.

Genderfluid- Genderfluid is a gender identity which refers to a gender which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, neutrois or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities. Their gender can also vary at random or vary in response to different circumstances.

Katie Spillman
Luke Donovan is a sophomore.

Luke Donovan

Pathfinder: What do you identify as?

Donovan: I am gay, and I am genderfluid, which means that I am interested in guys and I may at any time identify as male, female or any other identity, or some combination of identities.

What is your biggest struggle?

I don’t know I’m really afraid of elevators. But with being gay, being in Missouri is hard. There are a lot of conservative people, everywhere. There are a lot more in Missouri, and I think it makes it harder for them to be more accepting. I get it, I grew up that way. However, it’s hard to be expressive when you know you can still get hurt for it.

What’s it like to have to live with society’s expectations?

I struggle with being myself, but I would never try to dress how people expect me to dress. People ask me why I don’t wear athletic shorts and I’m like ‘because I think it’s ugly and I’m not going to wear them because it’s normal.’

What was the hardest part of coming out?

Coming out was hard. The first person I came out to was my mom, and she grew up Catholic and so I was taught that homosexuality was wrong. But I knew I had to tell her, so I told her in seventh grade, which I was really fortunate to – that’s really early. But I was really depressed then so I had to tell her. And when I did, we sat out on our deck and cried for 20 minutes. It was really hard for me to accept it and really say it. I would never choose to be gay because you get so much hate. You go into the world knowing you are going to be hated just based on that.

What is it like to be a member of the LGBTQ+ Community?

I mean it’s hard, people still use the F slur here and they think that it’s okay. It’s hard to hear that. But also, I’m always proud when people come to me for advice, especially when they are unsure about their sexuality. I really enjoy helping people understand what it’s like in my personal opinion to be gay- although it’s different for everyone. I always like giving advice.

Any advice to other members of the LGBTQ+ Community?
I think people should only come out when they know it’s safe for them. It sucks being in the closet, but the best advice is to make sure you’re always safe in your community.

Katie Spillman
Tony Morse is a freshman.

Tony Morse

Pathfinder: What do you identify as?

Morse: I am pansexual, and female to male transgender guy.

What is your biggest struggle?

For myself it’s probably dysphoria. With other people, misgendering. Especially when people misgender me on purpose, I just ignore it because that’s not my gender. If they say “she” I’ll just ignore it because if I do anything about it, it will just blow up out of proportion.  

How do you cope with the expectations of society?

I try to ignore it, but it’s society so the expectations are always there. When the pressure gets bad I just remember that not everyone has to be the same and to be my own person.

What is it like to be a trans teen?

Being a trans teen, people really accept you, like the school has really worked towards making sure I feel safe and that I am accepted and changing my name. If there is an issue they kinda deal with it.

Do you have any advice to members of the LGBTQ+ community?

When you’re in the LGBTQ+ Community, not everyone is going to accept you. When people are mean to you or you hear stuff about you, don’t let it get to you. It’s really cheesy but people always say it’s not going to matter in like a year, and it’s true. In the moment you will probably be really upset, but like it’s going to happen a lot, and eventually it won’t matter.

Katie Spillman
Ryan O’Conner is a junior.

Ryan O’Conner

Pathfinder: What do you identify as?

O’Conner: I am a gay male.

What is your biggest struggle?

It’s the idea that there are people in the world, there are people in this school, who hate me without even knowing me because of the people I am attracted to. I feel targeted for being myself and that has limited my opportunities and experiences to connect with my peers and make friends because of prejudices against me. Another big struggle is stereotypes. People automatically assume I’m good at one thing and bad at another because I like men. But I’m not very fashionable, and I do enjoy masculine things as well.

What makes coming out difficult?

The hardest part of coming out is all the time before coming out because you’re nervous, and you have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s such an uncertain concept because the people you think will be there for you no matter what, might not and the people you expect to turn against you  might end up being your best friend. You never really know what will happen but that doesn’t’ change the fact that it’s worth it 100 percent.

What is it like being a member of the LGBTQ+ Community?

That is quite the experience. I mean, it’s very polar. You’ll have people who love you without knowing you and people who hate you without knowing you. You just gotta learn to go with the flow because it flows, a lot. Some days are great and some days are terrible, and you just have to be ready for anything. When I’m on Instagram and I see people commenting like “no homo” or “that’s so gay” and it associates who I am with their negative sentiment towards that. And that’s pretty bad. Another time that’s pretty rough was when people were like spreading rumors about me that I liked this person when I didn’t. It’s just hard.

How do you deal with social expectations?

I deal with them by ignoring them. People are always going to expect me to be a certain way, but I don’t have to follow that. I can just be myself and society tells me that’s not how I should be… I don’t care. I’m not going to change to fit a standard. I had a lot of trouble actually with societal expectations when I was first coming out because I felt the need to be more gay, to act more feminine to show off that I was gay and proud, because I felt that I wasn’t gay if I didn’t show it in every way, shape and form possible. I feel like I’ve really matured from that and I can really be myself. Your sexuality isn’t who you are, it’s a small part of it.

What is some advice you would like to share with other members of the LGBTQ+ Community?

If you’re not out, don’t come out until you feel ready. Don’t let anyone pressure you, coming out is a thing that you should do on your own when you’re prepared. It’s a big change but do it only when you’re ready.

If you’re thinking about coming out, but you’re afraid. As long as you are in a safe environment and safe to come out, don’t worry about what other people will think about you. It’s just high school and it sucks to have people who hate you for no reason but being yourself outweighs that 100x over. Coming out is the best feeling in the world if you’re ready. Being able to be true to  yourself is also amazing.

If you’ve just come out, stereotypes are just that. You don’t have to conform to them or prove to them that you are what you identify as. You don’t have to prove anything. Just be who you are and who you want to be and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  It doesn’t matter what other people think. As long as you are happy with you.

And for those who are dealing with the hardships, it gets better. It really does. People are rude, people are nasty, they’re always going to be there. But at the end of the day they aren’t worth getting upset about. It hurts it really does, but it will feel better in the end.

Tony Morse
Alex Herrera is junior.

Alex Herrera

What do you identify as?

I am a gay female, or lesbian.

When did you know you were gay?

It was fourth grade. Up until then, I didn’t even know what gay meant. I guess I realized what it was and I was sitting there and I realized I had a huge crush on one of my best friends. I was like omg it all makes sense now, I’m gay! That’s why I don’t have crushes on guys! Everything was perfect after that and I didn’t have to make up guy crushes anymore. It was so relieving.

What’s some advice to other members of the LGBTQ+ community?

You have to come out when you’re ready and when it’s safe. You have to be careful about who you come out to and when you come out and you have to feel safe and know the people you come out it will at least tolerate your sexuality. There are so many people who come out and get kicked out or just have a bad home life. So make sure you’re ready and make sure the people who are supposed to take care of you will be ready to hear it.

What is it like to be an openly gay teen?

I think it’s fun. Everybody thinks you’re different and you’re actually not. Sometimes it makes you cooler or sometimes it’s less cool. And you have to struggle with how people perceive sexuality and therefore how they perceive you and your struggles. It’s fun because I get to be myself. It makes me happy that I can be whoever I want.