Coming out for anyone is hard. Whether you’re coming out about being Gay, Bi, Trans, or anything else on the spectrum of queerness, there is always a little bit of nervousness that you feel. The thought of “Will they accept me?” or “Do I really need to tell them this?” or something else might pass through your head. And people get different results. Some people are accepted with open arms, and the feeling of relief washes over them as the friend/family member or whoever they came out to accepts them for who they are. However, a lot of people experience something that isn’t quite approval but isn’t quite rejection either, and others aren’t so lucky, where they experience rejection, being shunned, and are even sometimes kicked out for being who they are. And there are those that because they are fearful of being shunned, rejected, or kicked out must stay hidden, or they choose to not come out because they already know what will happen if they do.
I had an eye-opening experience my Junior year when I went to Worlds. It was my first year as a Representative for LGBTQ+ of FIRST, and I was excited for many reasons, one of the reasons being that I got to hand out the pride pins and ribbons and hopefully meet new people. I remember walking with one of my friends when there was a person who stopped me and asked where I got the pin and the ribbon I was wearing. I explained to them that I was a Representative of LGBTQ+ of FIRST, that I was handing them out, and that they could have one if they wanted it. They told me that while they did want one, they would have to decline my offer, because their team would make fun of them, that they weren’t out to their team, and it wouldn’t be a good idea for them to have that. But I still gave them a pride pin and a “They/Them” ribbon, saying that they could have it in secret and that their team didn’t have to know about it.
That experience changed me, because although I knew some of the hardships that LGBTQ+ people went through, all the hatred and stereotyping and other awful things they had to either endure or be afraid of, I was lucky enough to live in a community where I didn’t experience a lot of those things. And while I and a lot of others were lucky, there are others, like that person I met, who don’t have the luxury of being able to be open about who they are. There are people who live in communities that aren’t as open-minded, and they have to deal with things that people in more open-minded communities don’t have to deal with. And to everyone who has to deal with that, who has to stay in the closet or deal with rude, stereotyping, or even hateful comments, there will always be someone out there who likes you and accepts you for who you are. In some cases those people might be a friend or a family member, but in other cases they might be someone who lives far away from you or someone that you haven’t met yet. However dire your situation might seem, however small you may feel, and however many people don’t accept your queer identity, there will always be people out there that will welcome you for who you are and will love you because of that queer identity. So for anyone who has to deal with the stereotyping and the hateful comments, just remember, that for the number of people that dislike you, there are the same if not more people out there that will like you, despite or even because of your queerness.
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ participants in FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST was started to spread visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within FIRST and help teams become safe spaces for their members.