This semester I took on a project that would focus on queer people’s experience at LMU through interviews. In these interviews, I found nothing but lessons and wisdom that queer people can use today to better their own lives and to help them know that they are not alone in their queer experiences. In honor of these stories, I compiled a list of advice and lessons that I found to be present in many queer people’s lives.
The underlying theme I found in everyone’s story was that it really shouldn’t matter what other people think. This might seem obvious at first, but living in a heteronormative society forces many queer people to feel as if they’re a burden to others by being themselves.
“I was really nervous when I came out with my pronouns. I thought a lot of people wouldn't take it seriously or would joke about it … however, within a couple of months, [my coworkers] were catching themselves and asking questions about my gender identity in an attempt to learn,” Lauren Moreno, director of LGBT Student Services, said.
The fear is real and present the first time we decide to be honest with our identities. However, when we come out, we are freed from the fear of rejection. The people that will embrace your true self will create an environment in which you can thrive, as exemplified by Moreno’s experience.
The next lesson I learned is that there is a power in embracing one’s queerness. The plight queer people have had to go through gives them a unique position of being able to empathize with others on a deeper level. As Professor Jeffrey Wilson put it, “My queer experience has served me well when I worked in leadership positions. I've been recognized for my skill in conflict mediation/management and I don't think I could do that nearly as effectively if I had not had the experience of marginalization.”
The silver lining message that anyone can take from their experience as a queer person is that love trumps all. The hard times we have had to go through give us the gift of being understanding towards others and truly knowing how to deliver compassion when it’s needed.
The most surprising thing I took away from interviewing queer Lions was that many queer folks manage to maintain their faith in a positive and empowering manner. “If they teach us that God created us for who we are, then that means God made me gay and He still loves me regardless of that,” senior communication studies major Celine Alvarado said.
Staying true to oneself does not go against any religious doctrine and as explained in Alvarado’s expression of her faith, God never made a mistake in creating queer people. Religion and being queer do not have to stand in opposition to each other. The two can coexist, which means that queer people can also be apart of organized religion.
These are just a few of lessons that I’ve learned from sitting down with the handful of queer people that I interviewed at LMU and there are still more stories to be told. If you or someone you know is struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality or gender identity, understand that listening to those who share similar experiences can help one make sense of their own life and give them tools to help live to their highest potential. No one is alone.
This is the opinion of Alex Myers, a senior French and philosophy major from Edmond, Oklahoma. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan email comments to email@example.com.
To see this article in the context of a larger feature about the queer experience at LMU, visit laloyolan.com/special_issues/queer_lions/.