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‘I was terrified of being ‘found out.’ I was taught by my church I wasn’t allowed to love, I was either ‘of God’ or ‘of Satan.’ It nearly cost me my life.’: LGBTQ man shares childhood trauma, homophobic upbringing, ‘We are poisoning a generation’

“At that moment I knew I had made a big mistake. I knew I shouldn’t have been there. I knew it was time for me to go. As I started to look for a way out, I was approached by an older man who said, ‘You look lost.’ In this world, I didn’t have to hide ‘what’ I was. I felt desired, special, and adored.”

‘We hid under the guise of ‘best friends.’ Suspicious, my roommates logged onto my Facebook. They exposed our romantic messages to mutual friends and strangers.’: LGBTQ+ woman details brave ‘coming out’ journey

“That night, while on our big red couch in our cozy den, my mom turned to me and asked, ‘Kaila, are you gay?’ I spilled my heart out. She didn’t interrupt. She didn’t insert her feelings or her worries. She simply listened, and assured me how much she loves me.”

‘This picture was taken 2 hours before I was bullied in front of my entire school. They made a mockery of me.’: Teen stands up against bullying, ‘I cheered in front of them with a smile’

“Friday afternoon, a group of kids decided to embarrass me. It was my senior year pep rally, my senior cheer night. This was the day they decided to put me down. Even after standing up for myself, they continued on with their foolish comments. I couldn’t stop wondering, ‘Why me?’ Then, I realized I was asking the wrong question. ‘Why do it at all?’ It doesn’t matter that it was done to me, it matters that it happened. It’s unacceptable.”

‘Kids shouldn’t have kids.’ Shame spread over me. As a teen, I couldn’t hide my big belly.’: Teen mom explains why she ‘kept her baby’ at 16

“I had no money, no desire to be a mother. ‘You’re 6 weeks along.’ She pointed to a picture on a paper. ‘A heartbeat? Already?!’ 5 minutes ago I didn’t even know I was pregnant. It seemed so fast, too fast for me. I knew some would think I slept around, that I was promiscuous. I knew girls would talk.”

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