I Want to Be a Teenage LGBT Activist!
How can I help my suffering siblings?
Dear Aunty Jimothy,
I’m a pansexual, homoromantic, cisgender teenage woman in high school, not out of the closet yet. A few close friends know, and my mother, but she’s in the denial phase.
You write about topics that are relatable, comforting, and so important. They make me feel understood and part of the LGBTQIA+ family. That gives me such pride.
But I’m TOO comfortable. Same-sex marriage is legal where I live. I could hold my girlfriend’s hand in public if I had a girlfriend. I’m not doing ANYTHING for my LGBTQIA+ siblings elsewhere who are suffering. I feel so sad to think about what they have to endure.
What can I do?
Hoping to help
P.S. You’re a kween!
Why thank you ever so much for noticing Aunty’s kweenliness, child. She tries! I’m so happy you wrote, because your question is a good one, and so important.
You are absolutely right that many of our LGBTQ siblings are suffering. When I’m not camping it up as as kweeny columnist, I’m busy researching more serious articles, many of which put me in direct touch with suffering.
People message me constantly about horrible things. I talk every day to people in LGBTQ refugee camps in Kenya. I correspond with activists in Brazil who tell me about terrible violence against young people. Also, Aunty speaks French, child. (Of course she does, she’s such a kween!) So, I’m in daily touch with people in western and northern Africa who report on anti-LGBTQ violence in the french-speaking world.
And child? If I let it all weigh on me, I’d never be able to get out of bed.
Do you know what this old aunty does to stay sane?
I do my bit. Then I forgive myself for not being able to do more. I write my stories, I send out virtual hugs to people who need them, and I take my dog for walks and do my gardening.
My bit is writing and encouraging. What’s your bit?
That’s a question worth exploring. Did you know Aunty has magic powers? Oh, yes, dear! I can read between lines of letters. Shall I tell what I’ve learned from yours?
You live someplace where LGBTQ acceptance is good but not great. You feel comfortable, but not too comfortable. Other kids, and probably some in your very school, are less comfortable than you are. How do I know? If your society was perfectly accepting and affirming, you wouldn’t have to come out, and your mother wouldn’t have anything to deny.
Am I right? I bet I am! I bet there are kids at your school right now who need your love and support, dear. Charity starts at home!
What’s the most powerful form of LGBTQ activism in the world? What’s the one thing you can do that has the biggest potential to change everything?
Living out of the closet is so powerful it’s almost magic. Child, it’s hard to hate people we know and love. It’s hard to be lonely when other people like us are out and proud. Some people even say that the mass, involuntary comings-out of the AIDS era helped reduce homophobia and set the stage for more equality.
Whether that’s true or not, you can be a powerful force for love and hope in your school. Kids YOU know are surely feeling scared and lonely and unable to live as who they are.
You can be a spark that lights a fire of love. Yes, you child!
- It all starts with coming out. You have to be smart, you have to be safe, and above all, you have to be wise. Only you can evaluate the risks and decide what’s best for you. You know your school better than I ever could, so I won’t get my fabulous pink boa all twisted up pretending I know the answer. Click here for a previous column about weighing the pros and cons!
- Attend clubs and societies at school. Many schools operate LGBTQ clubs called GSAs, for Gay/Straight Alliance or Gender and Sexual Alliance. Outside the US, they’re sometimes called LGBT societies. The clubs are safe spaces in schools where LGBTQ kids and their cisgender and straight friends can come together to find peer support and feel less isolated. If your school has such a club, you attending it is powerful magic. Just by being there, you can help others feel safe, supported, and loved.
- Create a club. If your school doesn’t have a GSA, then creating one is something YOU can do for vulnerable LGBTQ students. One thing I can tell you for certain, dear, is that more kids are suffering than the ones you know about. GLSEN is a national organization that fights for the rights of queer kids in school and helps them set up GSAs for peer support. Reach out to them!
Jump Start Your GSA
Welcome to The GLSEN Jump-Start Guide! This resource is for new and already-established Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs)…
- Reach out abroad. I know you’re worried about people suffering worse than kids at your school, and I’m glad you are. Your compassion is an inspiration! Do you have Facebook? If so, one thing you can do is seek out peers on social groups like LGBT Advocate, which the Huffington Post has described as one of the “nicest” places on the Internet for LGBTQ people to connect with information, resources, support, and friendship. If that doesn’t work, just use Google. Find a penpal or two, friends abroad whom you can help support by sharing your love, perspective, and even advice. Don’t overdo it! Keep it manageable. You’re one young woman. Not a dozen.
Shall we wrap up, dear?
Do your bit, and be happy to know you’re contributing. Don’t be weighed down about not doing more than you can bear. Come out when you can. Be a powerful force of love and support where you are. Join clubs. Start clubs. Reach out a little bit to support kids further away.
Be the very best you that you can be! Your life is just starting. Educate yourself. Be good to yourself. Grow into a fierce, powerful, strong woman. One day, and maybe not all that far into the future, you’ll have more to give. Your “bit” will snowball and — who knows, child? — it might even trigger an avalanche.
I’m rooting for you! Your generation is going to change the universe. This old aunty just hopes she’s around long enough to see it a lot of it.
From one old kween to a fabulous young one — thanks so much for your thoughtful letter. I hope my ramblings prove useful. I’ll refrain from clutching my pearls this time, because you got this, kid. I can feel it!
That’s another Aunty Jimothy column on Medium, guys and girls. Got a question? Post it under this story or email email@example.com and she’ll do her best to crank out some pearlescent balls of wisdom.
By the way, I’ve got a whole bat cave full of lesbians, trans guys and girls, and kinky polyamorous bisexual chicks. So when you ask Aunty Jimothy, you’re tapping into a lot more than just Dame Edna’s cranky nemesis.
Ask anything! Love, sex, dating, hooking up, Tinder and Grindr culture, and HIV/STD concerns. Life with your straight family. Coming out. Or not.
This Old Aunty has the Answers. Somewhere. If I can just remember where I left my purse.