2018-2019 Deirdre Furr Essay Contest, First Place Essay

By Kizna Pasha

I’ve always heard the phrase "there’s light at the end of the tunnel" but I’ve never heard the explanation or seen any demonstration on how to make your way to it. I struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts already, so adding the pressure of being a queer woman in this society is nerve wracking. I’ve found that the way to reduce the presence of suicidal thoughts with myself, and suicide in the general LGBTQ community is to focus on not affecting those around us, but rather focus on building ourselves up.

I was raised in a Muslim household. Very traditional. Very Conservative. When I first started to experience same sex attraction, I was horrified at it. I claimed it was nothing and plunged myself into deep denial. I was ashamed of even thinking homosexual thoughts because that’s what I was raised to think of it. I even one remember thinking that being gay was only a "white people thing" as that was also what I was told growing up. My parents were disgusted at any mention of homosexuality, condemning them to hell, so when I felt this, I hated myself and prayed to God I wasn’t gay. However, I didn’t turn out to be gay. I turned out to be pansexual and it took me 4 years to figure out and embrace that.

The environment of middle school was different from the environment of high school. My high school was so open and accepting of gender and sexuality exploration and LGBTQ empowerment. In middle school, just saying something was gay was an insult. In high school I got the chance to be around other queer people who were perfectly happy with themselves as they were. It gave a me a sense of freedom to come to school, to be open with myself as I saw so many others around me open with themselves. In 9th grade I came out to my friends at school as pansexual. I even got a girlfriend in the same year, who I am still with. However, I did not tell my parents at the time, because I completely knew they would not understand or condone it so I kept my mouth shut around them. The process of that was aggravating to me at the time, to the point where it seriously contributed to the downfall of my mental health.

Keeping this secret from my parents was awful to me. I had to always watch my tongue whenever discussing love or marriage, always nodding along with believing that it could only be with a man and a woman. It was terrible to have to lie all the time to the two people who had constantly told me for the past 14 years of my life that they love me so much, but it was for survival purposes.

These kinds of skills have to be learned by many members of the LGBTQ community in order for many of them to not be beaten or homeless. Every day I thought "Why can’t I say it? Why can’t they just change their opinion on homosexuality? Why can’t they just change the way they think?" However, my parents would be saying the exact same things to me if I came out to them. In their minds, much like many others in this type of situation, they would believe strongly that their opinions are unchangeable while my sexuality is while I just as much believe in the reverse.

I spent so much time thinking of ways to change them, thinking of reasons why they can’t or can’t change. The hard truth of the situation is that they will probably die believing those things and condemning me for the way I am. I could’ve spent all my time trying to somewhat nudge them into being accepting and try to keep them in my life, or I could consider the option of letting them remain as they are and spend time on myself. I could focus on building a life for myself without them, which is the reality that many LGBTQ people have to deal with. I see a lot more representation for my community both in the media and in real life. Much of it shows many around them, including family, being rather supportive, which is amazing and gives hope to so younger members. However, people like me can never have that luxury with our relatives. We have to deal with being cut off from our families if we wish to be ourselves, which drives many to madness, myself included.

I have spent so much time hacking at a brick wall. All because I wanted acceptance from my family. I came out to them a year back just because I was getting closer to being able to move by myself. Just as I thought, they were not accepting at all. My father is still cold and distant to me a year and a half later. However, I was prepared for this. It was disappointing and slightly disheartening, but I have come a rather long way from being ashamed of myself for my sexuality. I have friends who love and support me, one of which I am moving out with after high school. I received therapy for 2 years at my school to go through the process of learning strategies to manage my mental health. I’ve been a loving relationship with my wonderful girlfriend for almost 3 years now. Also I have solid plan for after graduating high school and supporting myself through college. The bottom line is, I grew myself as a person, rather than spent time focusing on trying to change random life factors, or others around me. I am ready for a bright future as many other members in my community are as well. I believe that self improvement and support for the future’s of the members of the LGBTQ community is vital to making sure that they all plan to live long, stable and happy lives as all others.