Coming out can be difficult. It's a new time with new experiences and sometimes you're only just coming to terms with your own feelings, let alone trying to explain to other people how you feel. This time isn't made any easier when you have people in your life who don't accept or support you or you're surrounded by people who make you feel different and unloved. This is called homophobia.
In 2017, The Independent released an article using figures from gay rights charity Stonewall which revealed that more than 1 in 5 homosexuals out of over 5000 people had been a victim of a verbal or physical attack in the past 12 months, due to their sexuality. This has risen by 80% over the last four years.
However, another study also released by Stonewall in 2017 showed that homophobic attacks and bullying in secondary schools has dropped by a third, making it much less likely than it was 10 years ago. This doesn't mean that LGBTQ+ pupils aren't still at risk though.
I came out for the first time when I was 14, and though my mum was fine with it as was my dad eventually, there were a few people at school who seemed to have an issue with my bisexuality. I would be standing in the dinner queue, minding my own business, when all of a sudden someone would come up to me and tell me that ‘people like you shouldn't be alive’ or ‘bisexuality isn't real, you're just a greedy lesbian’ or even ‘the world would be a better place if you killed yourself.’ I don't know how they found out - I guess rumours fly when you're a teenager in secondary school - but their hurtful comments really got to me and made me hate myself for not being ‘normal.’ I had struggled with my sexuality for over four years before this point and the things they would say didn't make it any easier to deal with.
One thing to remember when you're the victim of a homophobic attack, whether it be verbal or physical, is that it's not your fault. It's very easy to blame yourself - ‘if I wasn't gay this wouldn't have happened’, ‘I should be normal’ - but you never chose to have these feelings. Something which you have no control over cannot be your fault. You have no control over someone else's actions or the way you feel, so never blame yourself.
A second thing is that the only way in which anything will change is if you tell someone. No one can help you if they don't know what's going on. If it's in school, tell a teacher or a person of authority in your school. They can help you. If it's someone in your family or your circle of friends, then it's a good idea to tell a parent or another family member like an auntie or a godmother - someone you can trust. Of course, it's a more complicated situation if you're being attacked and abused by someone in your family but people can and will still help you.
A third piece of advice is try to avoid them and cut them out of your life. If they aren't in your life anymore then they can't hurt you. Get out of their circle and get them out of yours. Sometimes you need to put yourself first and protect yourself.
If someone you know is being homophobic, talk to them about it. Don't be aggressive or it is likely they will put themselves on the defense or even the attack, which is worse. Just talk to them about their actions and how they are making other people feel. Maybe then they can realise the error of their ways.
If someone you know is a victim of homophobia, let them know that you support and accept them and encourage them to tell someone. By telling someone, the issue is much more likely to be resolved, allowing the affected to move on. Moving on happily is the best revenge in any hate crime.
You don't deserve any of this. You deserve love and support and acceptance. You didn't ask for this.
But you are important, you are beautiful, you are strong and you are unique.
For more advice, here are some sites you can contact:
We all love you.