By Josh James
Dear readers of Glass,
Last year I realised something.
Last year, I realised and came to terms with something that completely and utterly changed the way I think. It changed the way I think about myself, the way I think about others, and it changed the way I think about the world.
Early last year, I finally realised and came to terms with the fact that… I’m gay.
Now, I’m sure you don’t exactly need or want all the details, so I’ll spare you the novel.
But, throughout this process of “realisation”, there has been one thought which has consistently decided to rear its head; the thought of “it’s okay, I might still be bi.” Because, if I’m bisexual, that means I still have one more shot at living a “normal” life, with a wife, and kids and a “normal” home.
But why is being gay or liking just guys not okay?
It’s not right that I feel like I’m not allowed to just be gay, and it kills me to think that so many other people feel the same.
But, somehow, I don’t think it would surprise you to know that people feel like this on a daily basis. People put themselves through torture and are put through hell by others.
And that’s all just a result of the nature of the society around us.
I’m not the only person feeling this way, and that’s the sad reality – it is millions of people who are living on this Earth with us. Millions of people who struggle with being able to just be themselves.
The environment and society around us, and the media we’ve taken in since birth have suggested that the only way to have a successful future is if we’re part of a hetero-normative couple and family.
Trying to figure out who you are is difficult – as every single person who has ever walked this Earth would be able to tell you. So that just begs the question – why do we make it so much harder for some? When suicide contemplation in gay youth occurs at three times the rate of heterosexual youth, and when these kids are almost five times more likely to have attempted suicide, why do we continue to make it so much harder?
For me, this conjures thoughts about all those who are angry or unhappy about gay couples and the like in public, in the media or in TV shows that children will see because it will “make them gay.”
No! It won’t! It helps people who are feeling like that learn that it’s O.K.
It helps to make people, who fight to be who they are, feel noticed. They become aware that there are other people out there just like them – they are not alone.
When just a small minority of our members of parliament, or even the characters we see in books and on-screen, are openly gay, we close the doors on a large number of our population, and open ourselves up to situations where our government asks an entire country of people to tell us who we’re allowed to love.
Representation, exposure and awareness do not have the power to completely change something that is a psychological and chemical component of a person. But what it does have the power to do, is to encourage anyone and everyone, from the youngest of children, to the eldest in our community, to be comfortable with themselves if that’s how they’re feeling.
It’s toxic to only expose kids to one thing and suggest that this is the only thing that’s okay, and the only way you will ever…be…happy.
We know it’s not, but because that’s all we ever see, we feel that anything different is wrong or will always be just a little off. Growing up in an environment like that isn’t okay…for anyone.
This needs to change.
So please, if you take nothing else from me today, I want you to at least leave this page with the knowledge that everyone has the power to change minds. We have direct access to the ideologies of those around us, and in this period of great change for those marginalised by our wider community, we are afforded a power far greater than ever before to change minds, raise awareness, and improve tolerance, making our world a better place for all who inhabit it.
So please, when you leave this page, use that power for good.
Seeing people who are different – people who feel and believe different things, look different to their co-stars, or to us, on-screen and in a public light is a crucial step, in not just acceptance, but in people’s acceptance of themselves.
And the power to make that change…lies with you.
CITED STATISTICS: The Trevor Project (2019). Facts About Suicide – The Trevor Project. (WWW). https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/preventing-suicide/facts-about-suicide/#sm.0000r3pyltrkgekv10uigodvc4xui (accessed 19/02/18).