The YU Beacon asked me for one piece of advice to give to gay Orthodox teens. At first I was very overwhelemed, like the last question- there were so many options to answer- that it would get better, that no matter what happens I would find my way, that who I was was okay. So the way I answered this question was by looking back. If there was one thing I would have wanted to be told in high school, what would it have been?
I answered the following:
Not to let others dictate who they are or how they should feel. Regardless of communal pressure, familial pressures, and all the stresses in the world, every single person is an individual, and has the right to be who they are. Because in ten years, the same people making fun of them now will either have grown up enough to understand or not be in their lives any longer, so what they say really can’t define who a person is.
There's really not much to explain about this one. I realized the number one issue in high school, for myself and so many others- not just those struggling with being gay- is peer pressure. Not drugs or drinking, but peer pressure to fit in to society's molds, peer pressure to "belong" or be "normal", like everyone else seems to be. If someone had told me in high school that it was okay to be different, I may not have believed them- but I still would've liked to hear it. To know that the cool kids and the jocks and the nerds- that none of those labels would matter in just a few years, because when we grow up we realize that we are who we are, regardless of what boxes others try to place us in. We find our circles, we find our friends who loves us for who we are- we're not forced into a confined world where we are subscribed to "roles" and "expectations" from everyone around us. We know that if our friends do that, they're not our friends- and at 23 years old, or even 18 years old, it gets much easier to go out and find those who will love us without wanting to change us.
So that's my advice to anyone struggling in the world. Be who you are, and don't let anyone else change you.