My name is Olivia Renali. I’m queer. And I am not defined by my struggles.
When I was in fourth grade the entire class decided that I was, *gasp*, a lesbian. Everyone said that I looked like one and that I was crushing on all the females in class. I was bullied, called names, I was physically and verbally harassed in the class rooms, the hallways, the lunch room, the gym room. Everywhere I went I couldn’t get away from the madness. The teachers knew that I was being bullied; like often, they didn’t believe that it was a big enough deal to speak up about.
I’m a junior in high school and recently, my mother found out that I’m gay. I didn’t tell her. I didn’t have to. I told facebook, and from facebook did my mom look at my account and see that under “interested in”, I listed “women”. She didn’t take it too well at all first. She thought that I was being gay for attention, or because I wanted to fit in with some of the queer kids from down the street. Neither of that was true; I know who I am. Being queer is not an “act” that I put on when I want the “different kid” or the “cool kid”.
I’ve also had my first girlfriend earlier this year; and even though it only lasted for month, we still are close friends. Having her as a girlfriend solidified my belief that I was truly queer, and not in a phase. Paying more attention in the media, I’m also truly greatful to people like Rachel Maddow, Ellen DeGeneres and Suze Orman who has shown to the world that not only is it okay to be gay, but that being gay doesn’t have to define your career and your successes.
Since then I have been suffering from disordered eating habits(binging and restricting), self harm and an unspecified anxiety disorder. Being bullied for so long has made me uncomfortable around groups of people, regardless of whether they have bullied me or not. Even going to school makes me uncomfortable, because in my perspective, there’s still the faint possibility that someone is going to trip me in the hallway, or say something to me. Some days I’m so anxious I can’t eat breakfast or lunch; so I wait till 5pm when I get home to eat.
But, I think in general, that things are slowly getting better. I’m learning to accept myself and accept that I like women. I also am starting to accept that I’ll always be a little masculine, and have the “butch” or “dyke” appearance. I’m also making more healthy relationships with people and my anxiety has gotten better as well. And my mother has gotten better about my sexuality as well. So to everyone who is thinking about how “it will never get better”; it does. Life will TRULY get better for you.
Olivia Renali. Fifteen. Queer.