By Samantha Ellis
Growing up, you are taught to love many different individuals. You love your parents, your family, supposedly your siblings (but you are not always sure). You love your friends, your mentors, your pets. If you are a girl, you are supposed to find a nice young boy to bring home to the family. If you are a boy, you are supposed to find a kind girl to start a family with. Traditionally, this is taught to us as love. But what happens when your love deviates from the traditional? What do you do when you find yourself in love with your best friend? She was loud and brash with a brain that far excelled my own. Her hands were always cold but warmer than any other I held, and her eyes, they were beautiful. They told far more stories than I had ever remembered spilling from a boy’s mouth. In this situation, what do you do?
I buried these feelings, far down where I did not have to see or feel them. “This isn’t normal.” I said. “This isn’t how the world teaches you to love your friends.” I would argue. But somewhere along the line I forced myself to accept it. But what was it exactly that I was accepting?
That I was gay.
I have known that I liked girls since I was 13, came out to friends years later, and when I turned 18 I gained the confidence to be able to call myself gay. I told my parents soon after, and luckily, they love and support me regardless. But they stay worried. “Are you sure?” They ask. “It is a dangerous world out there.” They remind me. Being gay comes with a risk, a stigma, a long line of other queer individuals that have died fighting for the rights I have and are still denied. This love has come with a price.
I, as well as many others pay for it daily when it comes to holding our partners’ hands, ignoring slurs and those who believe our rights have not been deserved, mourning those who we have lost to years of homophobia and racism. None of it is deserved, and it takes its toll on all who experience it. My love is not traditional, but is more authentic than any other I have experienced in my life.
This love has created me, fueled my passions, and wakes me every day and reminds me of who I am. This love has given me friends, crushes, and worlds I would have never explored otherwise. But the taboo around it has taken as well. It has taken connections, opportunities, loved ones, and potential friends. When a close friend’s parents would not accept who she was, they had to learn to accept her death. The price of this love is steep. I miss her every day.
But when given the option, I would pick my love every time. My love will change our world, and it is changing our world, one day at a time. One day, these prices will not have to be paid.
I am gay, and I am full of love.