Why I went from pro-life to pro-choice

Why I went from pro-life to pro-choice

As odd as it is to think about this now, I used to be consider myself pro-life. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, this label I’d given myself meant that I was against abortion. My naïve reasoning for this was because in my eyes, it was wrong and I’d never have one because of this. Sixteen year old me was obviously extremely uneducated on the matter because the fact is, you never know when you might have to access an abortion. People need them for a lot of different reasons and you never know what situations you might, but hopefully will never, face in the future. The 8th amendment effects anyone who can get pregnant. Even if you still feel like there’d never be a reason you’d access abortion, that’s fine too, because that’s your own personal choice. You will never be forced to have one. But there are people forced abroad every day to access abortion, because they don’t have that choice to seek healthcare at home.

When I was pro-life I had debates with friends from school about abortion. I didn’t understand the complexity of what I was talking about and I have the social media receipts to prove it. It’s not that I wasn’t listening to anyone, but nobody was telling me the cold hard facts about it back then. It was just a bunch of teenagers who’d finished up their Junior Cert chatting amongst themselves. That was 2012, the same year that Savita Halappanavar died. That’s when my opinion started to change.repeal 2

The more people spoke about it, the more I started to educate myself and my mind changed completely. I won’t lie, what really altered my stance was seeing the devastating effects that the 8th amendment had on people that I’m close with. People I love that have been forced to travel abroad with their rapist because it was the only way they could afford and access abortion. Forced to have sex with him again the night before the abortion, because he was paying for it and that was that. He should never have been there. She should never have been put in that situation and every time I think about it I get so angry that I shake. People I love that have been forced to give fake names as their next of kin, when they end up hospitalised in England after complications with their abortion. The fear of God put into them because what they were doing was and still is illegal, terrified that their parents would find out if anything were to happen to them. Its grim, and its heavy stuff, but that’s the reality of the 8th amendment for people who have to access abortion.repeal 3

The 8th amendment does not stop abortion. People order abortion pills online every day. People travel abroad for medical and surgical abortions every day. If people can’t afford this, they do it at home the dangerous way using medication, alcohol and whatever they can get their hands on. Yes, it still happens. The 8th amendment does not stop abortion, if somebody needs one they will do whatever it takes to have one. The 8th amendment just makes it that bit more difficult for those in need.

People are forced to travel every day if their unborn baby is diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality. What these people have to go through is cruel and heart breaking, and exporting them abroad to access an early induction is not the answer for these cases. Some people may choose to continue on with a pregnancy after doctors have confirmed will not be viable outside of the womb, but the option needs to be there for e

arly induction too. Nobody should have to return back to Ireland without their baby, and receive their ashes by courier. Yes, this actually happens. You can read Tracey’s story about what happened when her daughter Grace was diagnosed with thanatophoric dysplasia here. 

We all know somebody who’s had cancer. But did you know that if you’re receiving cancer treatment and find yourself pregnant, that your treatment could be stopped? This because under the 8th amendment, the life of the foetus or embryo is seen as equal to the pregnant persons. So although the person who’s pregnant might have a young family at home that they need to look after, their life is still seen as equal to the embryos.

 

And sometimes, people just don’t want to be pregnant. It’s simple. A baby should not be used as a punishment for having sex. If somebody is not ready to be a parent for whatever reason, it shouldn’t be forced on them. People don’t want to be pregnant for a lot of complex reasons, and frankly it’s not our place to judge.

I’ve heard the words “But what if they regret it?” about people who need an abortion countless times. But sure, what if we regret anything we do in life? Should we not be trusted with making our own decisions? People who can get pregnant have a long history of not being trusted with their own decisions regarding reproductive healthcare in Ireland. This needs to stop, now. Vote Yes on May 25th.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the 8th amendment affects pregnant people in Ireland, head over to the In Her Shoes page on Facebook where hundreds of people have shared their anonymous story of accessing abortion.

This post was inspired by a post by Emily Donnelly, who wrote a post recently on why she went from pro-life to pro-choice. You can read it here. 

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Biphobia, bi-erasure and bisexual mental health in Ireland

Biphobia, bi-erasure and bisexual mental health in Ireland

Bisexual people have the highest risk of developing a mental illness, self-harming and considering suicide in comparison to lesbians, gay men and heterosexual people.

The LGBTIreland Report 2016, which is considered to be the largest study of LGBTI people in Ireland to date, found that 34% of participants had self-harmed, with 60% of these people saying that their self-harm was related to their LGBTI identity. Bisexual people were more likely to have self-harmed than lesbian/gay females and gay males, with 54.5% of bisexual people interviewed stating they had self-harmed at a point in their lives.

The report also found that 60% of LGBTI people had seriously thought of ending their lives, with almost half of these people considering it in the past year. 60% said that their suicidal thoughts were related to their LGBTI identity. Again, bisexual people were more likely to consider ending their own lives than lesbian/gay females and gay males, with 65.3% of bisexual people interviewed mentioning they had considered ending their life at one point. This is compared to 19.5% of gay men, and 37.4% of lesbians/gay women.

With figures so high, you’d think that this would be a difficult problem to ignore. Unfortunately in Ireland, bisexuality in general is still very much swept under the carpet. The stigma surrounding mental health issues is slowly but surely being broken down, but bisexuality is something that people still fail to understand. To tackle the problem of poor mental health in bisexual people, we need to look into why it’s happening in the first place. Why are bisexual people so much more prone to developing a mental illness, self-harming or attempting suicide? Sharon Nolan, Galway based Bi+ Ireland co-ordinator, says that there are many different factors contributing to this,

“The lack of acceptance within both gay and straight spaces for bi+ people [causes poor mental health]. Questioning the validity of their identity, slut-shaming, questioning their commitment abilities, and questioning the sheer existence of us. This leads to rejection from social spaces and internalised biphobia. The pressures of feeling that you always need to educate or defend your identity is also damaging for your mental health.”

I carried out a survey on 100 people who identified as bisexual, to see what their experiences were with biphobia, bi-erasure and mental health difficulties. The findings were as follows:

93% said they had experienced difficulties with their mental health

50% had been diagnosed with a mental illness

79% said they had experienced biphobia or bi-erasure

54% said that biphobia or bi-erasure had contributed to their mental health issues

67% had self-harmed

28% had attempted suicide

As Sharon mentioned, biphobia and bi-erasure are contributing factors to the poor mental health of bisexual people, adding to the shocking statistics above. Biphobia is the dislike or prejudice against bisexual people, and Matthew Palliser-Kehoe, a 20-year-old bisexual man from Cork says that his experience of biphobia seems to stem people being unwilling to understand what bisexuality is. The BESS (Business Economics and Social Studies) student says that there is a significant difference between homophobia and biphobia,

“There seems to be a large proportion of members of the LGBT community, along with the wider population, that are unwilling to even recognize bisexuality as a thing that exists. While homophobia is undoubtedly alive and well, there is an underlying acceptance that homosexuality exists. This contrasts with biphobia, where the most painful and most common encounter of biphobia is the denial or refusal to accept the existence of bisexuality in the first place.”

Ellen Reid-Buckley, a 23-year-old queer woman from Limerick, says that biphobia has a lot to do with erasure, “I think marriage equality hit home in assimilation culture for cis gay men especially, but cis lesbian women also gained from that representation. Bi+ and trans voices didn’t get a word in edgeways.”

Ellen, who recently graduated from UCC with a Masters in English (Irish Writing and Film) has experienced biphobia both from inside of the LGBT community and from heterosexual people. One of the more recent incidents was being called “blasphemous” by a lesbian at Dublin Pride for having a boyfriend. She has found that some members of the lesbian community have been “very sceptical or almost enraged” by the thought of a bisexual woman. However she says she most commonly experiences biphobia from cisgender straight men,

“I have been asked by many cis men how many women I’ve slept with, solicited for threesomes by strangers on Tinder because I had a bio that stated I was queer, and even filmed in nightclubs kissing women.”

Nicole* is one of many bisexual people who has suffered badly with mental health issues; she has struggled with eating disorders, self-harm and suicide attempts in the past. In 2011 when Nicole* was still in secondary school, a girl named “Layla” added her and other people in her year on Facebook. She was a blonde haired, blue eyed American girl, and instantly she zoned in on Nicole*. What Nicole* did not realise was that it was a fake account,

“After about three weeks of a joke that everyone except me was in on, Layla told me that she liked me. And I melted, I felt excited and attracted to her too. So I told her I had always felt this way toward girls, and she said that it was okay to like girls and try it out, and that we could try it together. The next day, Layla fell off the face of the earth.”

The next few days in school were hell for Nicole*, who was called a “dyke” by classmates who refused to get changed in the same room as her for PE. The next year she met her first boyfriend, and everyone forgot about her and Layla. But Nicole* never forgot,

“I didn’t ‘look or act gay’ anymore so I sailed through school relatively unscathed. The flip side of straight passing is that I lost all sense of self and identity, and fell quickly into drugs and alcohol after school.”

Nicole* also found it difficult to come out to her family, who do not believe in bisexuality, “They think its greed or confusion, but they all voted yes to marriage equality. They’re not homophobic, they love gay people but the bisexuality thing doesn’t make sense to them.”

If we aren’t going to acknowledge that bisexual people exist, it makes tackling the bigger problems like poor bisexual mental health even more difficult. We have to take it right back to the basics and examine the way we think and talk about bisexual people. Ireland can be a very one-track mind type of nation, where there is a tendency to think in binaries because that’s all we know. But with statistics as high as these, something has got to change. Sexuality is a spectrum, and there is so much more to it than simply being straight or gay.

Nicole’s* name has been changed to protect her identity

bi-erasure

Body Positivity: A Big Fat Rant

There’s this preconceived notion that women should feel bad about their bodies. It’s almost as if, no matter what you look like, you’re programmed and conditioned to hate yourself. In a room full of women, if you were to pick one who had your ideal body type, chances are she has at least three different things that she dislikes about herself, and you didn’t even notice them.system.gif

Body trends change, all the time. Remember when thin was in, and there was this huge obsession over being a size zero? Now everyone wants a tiny top half, teamed with a massive arse and toned, thick, cellulite-free legs. Then there was the big boob trend of the noughties. I remember this vividly because it was shortly after that I became a teenager and all of my friends were blessed with giant tits while I remained a solid A cup until I turned 18.

Anyways, the point is that body trends change and so do our bodies. When I moved away to college I gained two and a half stone in three months, and suddenly I had these huge boobs that I’d wished so much for. But, was I happy with my body? No I was not. Now that I was blessed in the boob department, I had other things to worry about. Is that back fat? Jesus my calves are gone awful chunky. Why are my arms so flabby? No matter what weight you are, you’re going to find problem areas.

You can’t and you won’t stay the same weight forever, it’s pretty much impossible not to fluctuate throughout different stages of your life. Comparing yourself to the way you looked when you were 17 is not realistic for anyone. Almost a year and a half ago, I lost a good chunk of weight when I started on antidepressants. When this stopped, I went through a rough patch while studying abroad so my eating got worse, and I lost more weight. At this stage, I was a teeny tiny size 8. But while I was fairly confident with my figure, I was just thin and miserable. More often than not we equate thinness to happiness, but I definitely was not happy.

And now? I have no idea what I weigh. I know that if I stepped on a weighing scale, I’d probably get really upset. I have this bracket of what an “acceptable weight” is for myself, and I just know I’m way over it at the moment. But the difference is that I’m the happiest I ever have been with my body at the moment, mainly because I’ve worked hard to change my thought process and the way I look at, talk about, and think about myself. Because I’ve spent so many years trying to change my body, and I’m tired of it.

It started with changing the way I looked at myself in the mirror. More often than not, when we look at our bodies we focus on the perceived “bad stuff” for so long that we forget there are parts that we like as well. What do you like about yourself? I like my lips, my eyes, and my tattooed legs. I like my boobs and my bum and my jawline. It’s weird to see somebody saying positive things about their body, isn’t it? We have it instilled in us from such a young age that we should hate our bodies, that listening to somebody talk about liking parts of themselves almost feels foreign to us.

 

 

 

You are not defined by your body parts. When I looked in the mirror, for a long time all I could see was my hips that were “too wide”, my stomach that was “too big” and my boobs that were “too small”. I would obsess over these things and completely overlook the fact that, hips and stomach and boobs aside, I was an actual human being and not just a body. That there was more to me than my flaws; I realised then that people see you as a whole. They’re too caught up their own insecurities to notice yours.

Other people do not notice the things you think are wrong with your body, I can guarantee you that. That girl who’s slim, toned legs you admire and compare to your own? She probably doesn’t even pay attention to her legs because she’s so fixated on the size of her nose. People are too busy obsessing over their own problem areas that they rarely notice anyone else’s. When I take a full-length photo, I often find myself staring at it for a couple of minutes. As time goes by, I notice more and more things that are wrong with myself and by the end of it I think, “Jesus, I can’t show anybody this”. But nobody else looks at you like that. Nobody scrutinises you the way that you scrutinise yourself. They don’t stare at you intently, on the lookout for your flaws and things that are wrong with you. They’re looking for the best parts of you, and more often than not it expands to more than just your body parts. Start looking for the best parts of you too.

On to clothes, sizing and the fashion industry in general. I used to get so upset if I had to go up a dress size. To the point where if I needed a new pair of jeans and the size 8 didn’t fit me, I’d leave the shop empty handed and spend my day anxiety ridden and feeling bad about myself. That or I’d buy the jeans anyways, squeeze myself into them and feel bad about myself every time I put them on. They were a reminder that I was uncomfortable with my body (mentally and physically) and that my body was not “good enough”. Even after I’d stopped torturing myself by wearing them, I’d leave them in my wardrobe in the hope that one day I’d be good enough to wear them. Every so often I’d take them out and try them on, and continue the cycle of feeling bad about my body.

I realise how fucking problematic that was now. I realised that, who the fuck cares about the size of your clothes as long as you feel comfortable in them? Now when I shop in places that are notorious for bad sizing (Penneys and H&M, I’m talking about you) I bring a range of sizes in with me when possible. In I go to the changing rooms with a size 8, 10 and 12 in hand and I buy the one that I feel the most comfortable in. Fuck squeezing myself into clothes that are too small for me.

I was making myself physically uncomfortable with my clothing choice. But why are you uncomfortable? Is it because you’re physically uncomfortable wearing something, or because society says that you can’t wear it because of your body shape? We have it instilled in us that if your problem area is your belly, you shouldn’t wear tight skirts or crop tops. But who ACTUALLY says that? Who makes these stupid rules? Are people with this body type supposed to go around in loose bin bag type attire, slim arms and legs hanging out at each side? Fuck that. Challenge these views. Know that you look great, and feel great in your crop top whether you’re a size 10 or a size 18.

If you really don’t feel comfortable wearing clothes that are “not suited to” your body shape, that’s cool too. It’s only recently that I’ve started to feel okay wearing certain styles of clothes. I used to have a wardrobe full of clothes that made me feel bad about myself, not just the jeans I was squeezing myself into. Then one day I decided I was sick of it.

I took everything I owned out of my wardrobe and made a decision. I was getting rid of EVERYTHING that made me feel bad about myself when I put it on. Didn’t matter how nice it was, how expensive it was, or the potential I had to look good in it someday. If I didn’t feel confident wearing it now, it was gone. I also got rid of anything that was too small for me, or that I hadn’t worn in the past two months. No excuses, if I wasn’t wearing it now I was never going to wear it. I got rid of well over half my wardrobe that day, it was scary.

But with all this extra wardrobe space, I was forced to rethink the type of clothes that I actually wanted to wear. My fashion sense and style changed completely after that, because I stopped dressing the way that I felt society expected me to dress and started to wear whatever the fuck I wanted to. Getting changed out of my pyjamas used to feel like such a task for me; I hated my body and on top of that I just didn’t feel confident in my clothes. Once I’d bought a couple of new things that felt more like “me”, that task started getting a lot easier. And updating your wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive either, I did it gradually and found bits and pieces in charity shops. That said, it’s also nice to save a bit of your wages every week and treat yourself.

If your attitude to clothing is, “I can’t pull this off” I can tell you now that you’re wrong. Realistically, you can pull anything off; you just have to have the confidence to do it. Next time you see a girl and compare your problem areas to hers, i.e. “she has such clear skin and my acne is awful”, compliment her instead of making a comparison and feeling bad about yourself. I can guarantee you that she has insecurities too, and you might just make her day.

And by the way, everyone looks weird naked so stop stressing over that.

 

*Disclaimer: I know that, at a size 10, it’s very easy for me to preach about body positivity. But we all have things we dislike about our bodies, and that’s what I’m trying to highlight. I’m a firm believer that you deserve to be happy with your body no matter what size you are. If you’re sick of hating your body, I’d recommend following @bodyposipanda on Instagram. Her posts completely changed the way I viewed myself, and I’m in the process of reading her book “Body Positive Power” which can be bought here.

bodd

Sometimes all you have, is you.

Sometimes all you have, is you.

August 30th, 2017

Next month will be a year since I came out.

A year and a half since I came out to myself, to some of my closest friends.

A year since a relationship that taught me so much about myself, so much that I thought I’d die without figuring out.

It had never seemed clear before.

I never thought I’d allow myself to get to this place.

A year since I first experienced what it really felt like, to be so full of appreciation for someone, for the life I’d chosen to live, that I was blissfully unaware of the rest of the world.

I chose this life.

It was me.

I did it myself.

I decided that my life had to change.

I decided that I had to put my happiness first.

In doing that I risked everything; my stable yet unfulfilling life was turning upside down, rattling.

An aura of self-confidence surrounds my every move now,

Because one year ago my confidence was all I could rely on.

The harsh reality that you might lose the ones you love does that to you, creates this shield.

Some may try to knock you down and you have to be sure of yourself,

And if they walk away you need someone. And that someone, sometimes all you have, is you.

Throughout it all I was glad I had a hand to hold,

I thought I’d continue to watch this link unfold,

But it stopped. I didn’t expect it to stop.

And I thought I would stop too, but I didn’t.

This was the moment I’d anticipated, but not when I’d expected it.

Sometimes all you have, is you.

But that’s life.

The world keeps spinning and life doesn’t stop for anyone.

I had to learn to appreciate it.

When you experience the highs, sometimes you have to face the lows.

And I’m grateful for that.

If I didn’t experience the ups and the downs of coming out,

Then where would I be?

Sitting at the bottom of my bed, asking myself again,

“What do you feel?”

“Nothing. Emptiness.”

I don’t look back on my journey with sadness,

I’m fucking proud of myself.

Of the person that I’ve become,

Finally able to say that I’m gay and smiling,

Not curled up in a ball in my bed, through choked up tears and a pounding head and a pain in my heart because I can’t face my life in this lie that I’m living.

It still feels surreal.

Almost one year on, and a lot has changed.

Acceptance has come my way,

Slowly but at the same time, faster than I had ever imagined.

To hear that one of my favourite people said,

“Promise me one thing; that you’ll never turn your back on her.”

When they were who I most feared would turn their back on me,

Well it makes everything worthwhile.

I’ll always be grateful for the life I have now,

That I fought so hard for.

I will always appreciate my journey.

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Donuts heal broken hearts

This time last week, I was preparing to have a conversation I didn’t think I’d be having so soon, with a person I did not want to have that conversation with. I was so drained of energy and emotion, that I did not think it was possible to cry anymore; I was wrong. I didn’t think it was possible to feel any more crushed than I already did. Again, after that conversation, I learned that I was wrong. I was wrong about a lot of things.

Break ups are difficult, and no matter how hard you search, you won’t always get the answers to your questions. It can make getting closure a never ending task, because without those answers you always wonder where it went wrong. We’re always seeking closure.

That night I went out, and in true post break up fashion, I got drunk. And I cried, hysterically. I cried so hard that I had a physical pain in my chest. I balled my eyes out to the point where I couldn’t keep my upper body upright. This wasn’t because I was drunk though, I was just tired. So tired. This had happened a few times in the week beforehand, where I was so drained that my body just collapsed into my lap as I sobbed. I didn’t have the strength for this.

My friends brought me home. They hugged me and they listened to me, and they reassured me that I’d be okay. They took care of me. All my friends had been taking such good care of me. I realised the next day that while they were doing this, I needed to take care of myself. You can have twenty people picking you up when you fall down, but you have to be willing to pick up the extra pieces yourself. You have to be willing to get on with your life.

When you’re going through a break up, it can be easy to just wallow in your own self-pity. To stay in bed for three days straight and listen to sad songs and think that the world is ending and your life is over and you’ll never be happy again. Maybe the last bit is an over-exaggeration, but you get what I mean. It’s okay to feel shitty to a certain extent and we all need time to cry, but you have to stop at some point. The world keeps spinning and life doesn’t stop for anyone.

That same evening I was sitting on the cold, dirty floor on a wet evening, waiting on my bus to the airport. The rain was hitting off my skin and I hoped that every sudden drop would shock me and jolt some kind of energy into me. It didn’t happen, but it made me realise something.

I wasn’t going to feel better by sitting around and waiting for happiness to be handed to me on a silver platter. There was only so much moping around I could do before I was going to get used to it, to get comfortable with it, to think that I didn’t deserve to be happy. I made a conscious decision that day that I was going to try, to really, really try, to feel better.

Going home and visiting my friends was the first step, but I knew I wasn’t going to feel on top of the world again overnight. The next day, I didn’t cry. Or the day after that, or the day after that, or the day after that. I’ll admit it, yesterday I did get a little upset. But I cried for a few minutes, and I pulled myself together and I felt a little better. This is what it’s about, feeling that tiny bit better every day and knowing that you can get through this.

I went to visit one of my best friends in London. I went to a job interview. I ate donuts, plenty of donuts, because donuts heal broken hearts. I surrounded myself with positive people, and I left the house; even when I didn’t want to. I haven’t drank any rosé yet but I’m planning on it. I started to read a new book. I made myself healthy dinners. I wrote more. I bought a new purple, glittery lipstick. I started watching a new TV series. I made an attempt at my assignments, and I didn’t get much done, but I tried and that’s the main thing.

As each day goes by, I’m feeling that small bit better. My life has changed a lot in the last year, and now I’m free to be the person that I’ve always wanted to be. Yes, this is an ending, and endings are always horrible. But it’s also a chapter with a new beginning.

I was wrong about a lot of things, in that a week ago I said I couldn’t do this.

Keep doing the little things that make you happy, and you’re going to be okay.

And remember; donuts heal broken hearts.

pinkdonut

Vera

“I bet you thought you’d gotten rid of me.”

Vera smirks, she perches onto her dusty, tattered thrown. It’s almost as old as I am, because Vera is the name of my anxiety and she’s been with me for as long as I can remember now.

Vera is an elf like creature. She’s tiny and I should be able to fight her, but I can’t and it kills me that she’s so powerful.

Vera is in my brain and in my heart. She’s in my chest and my stomach, my hands, my legs, my eyes. She is wherever she wants to be, and she knows she can take over me.

Vera’s hair is black and matted and her skin is greying. Her clothing is torn and she looks battered after all these years, and all my failed attempts to drown her out. I never succeed.

Vera’s voice is the part that fills me with dread the most. It’s louder than ever now, she demands to be heard. She screams and screams and screams over anything left of the rational thought process I’d tried so hard to build up. She will be heard. She knows how to get to me.

Her voice goes in waves and whirls until it fills my head and I feel it all the way down to my throat, and it’s choking me.

Vera gets angry with me, she’s screaming now. Was I incapable of looking out for myself? How had I let this happen? Why would I put myself in a vulnerable position? She says that now she’s back to protect me, to stop harm from coming my way.

Vera clicks her wicked fingers, her long black fingernails are touching my own and now suddenly, there’s pins and needles. I can’t feel my hands, and then it’s my feet and I’m trapped.

I’m stuck and I can’t get out and I just sit and I listen to Vera punishing me.

I let myself get like this.

This is my fault.

Why hadn’t I been afraid?

Vera asks me what’s wrong. When I won’t tell her, she yells at me. She yells at the top of her lungs and although she’s so small, her roar makes my whole body shake and I can’t stop.

I tell her what’s upset me, begrudgingly. She shakes her head and glares at me with bloodshot eyes, her pupils a sea of blackness into her dark soul. “Your fault,” she shrieks.

Her shrieking brings a tear to my eye, and another one, and another one, and another one, and they won’t stop and it could be hours before they do and that’s the scary part.

Vera wants more answers and she knows she’s got control of me now. She knows I can’t give in and give her the rational answer, even if I want to.

“There’s no point.”

“You can never fix this.”

“It can only go wrong.”

“She hates you. Why shouldn’t she?”

Now she’s clip-clop, clip-clopping on my heart with her spikey leather boots. She’s kicking and she’s thrashing and now she’s down on all fours and I swear this is the time she’s going to give me a heart attack and I’m going to die.

Vera screams that everyone is out to hurt me and that everyone secretly hates me, and I wonder if she knows how much I hate her now.

Vera flutters down towards my lungs and my stomach churns and she smirks at me. She knows that she has me under her spell now, and she’s cackling. She tells me I’m worthless and she asks me a question,

“Why would anyone want to be around you?”

She screams and screams and screams, and she won’t stop and I can’t think and she’s tricked me once again.

She knows she’s the winner; she’s always the winner.

She squeezes my lungs and a heavy black cloud weighs down my chest and my throat closes up and I can’t breathe anymore. I’m hyperventilating now and I can’t make it stop and all I can hear is this screeching inside of my head,

“This is your fault.”

“You’re so stupid.”

“You’re pathetic.”

My ears are ringing and it drowns everything out. The sound of my friend trying to calm me down and the rational thoughts are all washed away with every breath that I struggle to take. I know she’s won, again.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

Then sometimes there’s a thud, and my exhausted body collapses onto the cold, hard floor. Often it feels like the easier route because for a moment my eyes black out, and I can’t hear, and I have peace for just a few moments. Its peace, all the same.

And eventually the short staggered breaths even out, but the tears keep flowing and my body is full of this emptiness.

Now Vera is staring, beady eyed at my hunched over limp, lifeless body and she shakes her head and asks,

“Who wants to deal with an anxious mess like you?”

She turns away and I think that’s the end but somehow, somehow in between my sobs she finds the space to hurt me one last time.

Vera squeezes me tightly, her claws digging into my skin so hard that her words are left like tiny scars on my arm. She says,

“Don’t let this happen again.”

Now I’m alone with my thoughts, and Vera’s words keep swirling through my mind; I know she’s wrong but she always manages to take over me. Vera knows I’m afraid of putting myself into a position where she’ll come back again. She knows I’ll avoid facing my fears.

She knows she’s the winner; she’s always the winner.

Stop flaunting your sexuality

Why is there a need to validate our sexuality in this day and age? Why is there even a need to come out at all? Why can’t we just love who we want to love, be with whoever we want to be with? Why is it assumed that we’re all born heterosexual, with young girls being told that one day they’ll find their Prince; oblivious to the fact that for some it might actually be a Princess? Because it’s 2016 Ireland, and although people think we’ve made leaps and bounds since the Yes vote in the marriage referendum, we haven’t come that far yet.

We understand what it means to be straight, and we understand what it means to be gay. For decades we’ve been campaigning for gay rights, proclaiming that gay people were born this way and were not able to change their sexuality. Eventually, people began to accept that others were gay. They did not entirely understand it, but they got their head around the concept. Then along came bisexuality; people were finally comfortable coming out and admitting that they were attracted to more than one sex. There are many different sexualities out there, and it’s up to each individual to find onelesbian that fits their preference (or they may choose not to label themselves at all). We’re now aware that heterosexuality isn’t as “normal” as we once thought, so why is there still a need to say, “I’m gay.”?

After the success of the marriage referendum, some may think that the process of coming out is way too dramatized. That it shouldn’t be a case of proclaiming, “Look at me, I’m different!” When really, nobody actually cares and you’re not that different at all. It seems that now, if you come out people are thinking “What’s the fuss about?” Because it’s just another gay, bisexual or queer person. We know so many of them now, and that’s amazing. Coming out should not be dramatic, nobody wants it to be. But for many people, it is.

As much as we like to tell ourselves that the world is a kind, loving and accepting place, sometimes it just isn’t. Yes, people have become more accepting of the LGBTQ community since the marriage referendum, but we still have a long way to go. People seem to forget that, although our generation are overwhelmingly accepting, some of the older generation are still alive, kicking and not too happy about same-sex relationships. There are parents out there with a “not on my doorstep” attitude, and small town syndrome is still prevalent all over the country.

When young people come out these days, it can still be dramatic. They go into it knowing that they could lose some of their best friends and closest family members, and for some of them, they do. You might think it’s not that big of a deal because your family voted Yes in the marriage referendum, but for some people coming out, it’s a huge deal. And granted that it all goes well, that your family say they still love you and your friends couldn’t care less: if you’ve waited 23 years to come out and you’re finally comfortable with your sexuality, it’s a big thing. You should be able to celebrate that without complaints that you’re making a fuss.

There have head shaking and sighs about LGBTQ people throwing their gayness in your face since the beginning of time. What started with “I don’t mind gays, but I hate when they flaunt it” has turned to the likes of “I’m not judging you because you’re gay, I’m judging you know because you’re talking abolesbian3ut it on social media” as time has gone by. And what that boils down to is this; you are flaunting your non heterosexual sexuality by coming out and being visible. By having a presence, and letting people know that, “Hello, I’m Laura. I’m 26, I’m a nurse, and I’m gay.”

Ask an LGBTQ person about why they make such a big deal out of their same-sex relationship and you’ll get the same answer as you would from any heterosexual couple. When you’re in a relationship with somebody, they become a big part of your life. You’re proud of the person they are, you want to show them off and show others that you are together. It’s normal.

It’s not about flaunting anything. It’s wanting to show affection to your partner, to let them know that you appreciate and care about them. It’s about kissing them goodbye outside of the car, rather than hiding away inside. It’s about being comfortable holding your partners hand in public, just because you want to be close to them. It’s not a statement, and it shouldn’t be.closet

Ideally, we would love to live in a world where nobody had a problem with the LGBTQ community. But unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet. This is why people still feel the need to “come out”, to label themselves and this is why sometimes the process is still quite dramatic. We don’t want it to be, but in reality, it is. And until there comes a time where we have complete acceptance of the LGBTQ community, some feel that they have to ensure they are visible. That they can say, we’re here; we are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, pansexual, and whatever else. They still have to remind people that they exist.

The generation below us need to see that LBGT people are here, that LBGT people are visible, and most importantly that LGBT people are normal. They need to have someone to relate to, whether it’s a family friend or a famous Youtuber that they can identify with. With visibility comes the breaking of stereotypes, like the camp gay man and the big butch lesbian. It can only get better from here, but we have to be patient.

As much as we all want coming out to be a thing of the past, we need to respect that for some people it’s still a huge deal. Until it’s a thing of the past, the LGBTQ community will still feel the need to validate their sexuality. Because once upon a time, they had somebody they looked up to and thought, “He/she is just like me.” Maybe they want to help somebody too.