01 Feb 2021
Hi there, my name is Amy (she/her). I am 23 years old and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. My objective for this blog post for LGBT History Month is to capture the trials and tribulations of being a gay woman in 2021.
For me, being a lesbian isn’t just about who I choose to love, but it’s also my identity. With this being said, coming to terms with my identity proved to be more than a struggle at first. One of the hardest parts for me was not knowing why I felt different when it came to liking boys. In primary school I had boyfriends, which felt very normal… but when I grew older and went to secondary school, then college – that’s where the confusion arose. I didn’t like talking about boys, I didn’t like kissing boys and I didn’t like having sex with boys – but I continued to do all these things anyway. At parties, I tended to drink a bit more than everyone else, and as a result, inevitably felt worse the next day. What I was doing was numbing my feelings – I just didn’t realise what exactly from. I look back on how I acted, and it’s clear that I tried to mirror the social norms of society rather than coming to terms with who I really was. I tried to run away by going travelling in Asia, thinking I would leave my “problem” behind. When I returned home, I realised that I was just delaying the inevitable; being gay.
“Coming out” has always been dramatised in the media and seems to be perceived as a significant event for anyone going through it. This may be one of the reasons why I was so scared to come out... I can’t describe to you the sheer terror I felt in knowing I would have to tell my friends and family I was gay. I dreaded saying the words. I dreaded their reaction. I dreaded the same eyes that would look at me differently. It was the pure fear that encouraged me to keep it a secret for so long. I remember so clearly at my lowest point I used to google “therapy for homosexuality” in the hopes I could see a psychotherapist to make me “normal”. The sad part is that if I had actually found someone, I probably would have gone through with it.
In 2018, I met Beth, who is now my girlfriend. She was confident enough to slide into my DMs – and found it completely easy to develop the friendship into a relationship. Her confidence sparked mine, and so I finally told my mum, after months keeping it on the low. The tears came before the words. I bawled my eyes out when I told her – it was so difficult to say it all out loud. The whole thing was a blur, all I remember was my heavy breathing, mascara-streamed face and the fact she was so kind and couldn’t have handled it any better. She told the rest of the family so that I wouldn’t have to (I was still very overwhelmed at this point) and then life just carried on as it did before – nothing changed. I am grateful that my friends and family are so supportive.
The open arms response from my parents was a little different to Beth's parents who were hesitant of the new relationship at first. They had never known Beth to be with a girl before, and she had just broken up with a long-term boyfriend, so when Beth told them I was her girlfriend it was a shock. The first few weeks were hard as her parents were adjusting to the new relationship, but soon I felt like family.
Coming out isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. The stigma around the LGBTQ+ community can make it hard for the younger generation to come out - because of the dated opinions of the older generation. If you’re ever struggling in a situation like this, please know there are always people who love and support you - including our community.
The initial reaction from Beth's family goes to show the amount of stigma there was around homosexuality, even in 2018… with homosexual relationships being represented more and more in the media, even in the likes of Disney channel and Nickelodeon shows, it’s clear that times are changing – but there is still much more to be done for my community. In 75+ countries, it is illegal for me and my partner to be openly gay… over 10,000 people signed a petition to keep the notorious ‘F Slur’ in ‘Fairytale of New York’… and my sexuality is seen as a sin by millions around the world due to their religious beliefs. It is not just down to the mainstream media to petition for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s also important for individuals to represent and support our community the best that they can, and to try and educate those who resent the community.
Saying that – the media are a massive influence on everyone’s day-to-day life, in both good ways and bad. It is almost impossible to avoid a screen in the 21st century. As an example, Walt Disney is one of the world’s biggest entertainment companies, worth over $130 billion, yet they have done little to overtly include LGBTQ+ characters in their mainstream movies. It’s 2021, and billion-dollar industries like Disney need to take more steps forward for the gay community. It is not an overnight change but one that happens gradually... by acting now we hope to give the generations who will come after us more freedom and happiness in who they choose to love. For me, an ideal world would be one where no one needs to 'come out', everybody simply just ‘is’.
Our guest blogger for this month is Amy Hollingsworth. Amy has been working in sales for a large health club chain for just over a year and is currently studying Events Management to fill her time whilst on furlough due to the Coronavirus pandemic. She is the older sister of KAT Marketing’s Digital Marketing Apprentice, Sydney Hollingsworth. A lover of travel, fitness and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community she is proud to be a part of.