Cognitive Dissonance

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Posts tagged coming out

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A Matter of Pride

When I logged on to Facebook last Wednesday, this post was at the top of my newsfeed:

[Image text: So my daughter, Caitlyn Silver-Sullivan just handed me a paper she wrote for school. The premise is to use one main descriptive word that defines her and use it in a short story. She chose the word “pride”. She explained the many uses for the word and that it means different things to different people. She then stated what it means to her. To her, it means “pride” in her homosexuality, no matter how society may view her for it. It was one of the most powerful essays I have ever read, from any author. This is not news to me. I’ve known for a while. In fact, I think I have always known. And I couldn’t be more proud of my little girl…]

Yes, his nickname is Skully.

Anyhow, I knew I had to read Caitlyn’s essay. Skully is a good pal of mine, and he agreed to ask Caitlyn if she’d be willing to share her essay, and answer a couple of questions. I’ve received questions from younger readers struggling with their identity as a LGBTQ teen. Several of these questions came from people who are Caitlyn’s age or younger. I thought her thoughts and experiences would be valuable to those going through similar struggles.

Well, Caitlyn emailed me back right away, and she’s excited to share it with you all.   I’m grateful that she’s willing to let me post her thoughts and stoked to share her point of view.

Meet Caitlin:

Caitlyn Silver-Sullivan is a 16-year-old high school junior from the suburbs of Northern Chicago. She’s also recently come out publicly. Here’s her answers to my questions:

Meg: Why did you choose this topic and how did you feel writing your essay?

Caitlyn: I had a really hard time picking a word to define me at first. I came across many words that were options, but none that I [was] particularly passionate about. However, in order to give us a clearer idea of what we were supposed to write, my teacher, Mr. Wise, allowed the class to pick a sample essay to read. I choose a sample essay that was based on the word Pride, thinking it would be about gay pride. However, this essay was quite different. It defined pride as being proud of your heritage. I then got the idea that I could write a essay about how Pride to me means gay pride since I am very passionate about the subject.

When I was writing my essay, I tried to put as much passion and truth into it as I could. I know what it’s like to be judged and looked down upon just because of the simple fact that I am gay. All up until high school, I was bullied about my manly looks; I was a tomboy at the time and always wore boys’ clothes. In seventh and eighth grade, the bullying got more severe to the point where everybody thought I was gay, and many people didn’t talk to me because of the rumors. During this time, I denied the fact that I was gay, due to the fear of being unaccepted and even more bullied. My freshman year of high school was a little easier, straying from the judgmental eyes from the students at my middle school, and being introduced to a variety of many other students from different schools.

It was my sophomore year that I experienced my first gay relationship. Throughout this time, people throughout the school were finding out about my relationships and I didn’t really feel comfortable with everybody knowing, especially since the majority of people are against gays. During this relationships I experienced the eyes watching me as I was with my significant other in disgust. I also experienced getting screamed at by various amounts of people saying “GAY!” or “LESBIANS!” I then, and still to this day, experience these harsh words. One of my old friends even had the guts to tell me that if I were raised right I wouldn’t be the way I am. In the past, I have also gotten things thrown at me such as waterbottle caps and crumpled up pieces of paper by people that I don’t even know for being gay. I have personally experienced a lot of verbal abuse for others from simply being a lesbian. These are the things that I thought about while writing my essay — the various memories of how I was treated different, but never backed down or changed. I am proud to be gay. And that is what my paper portrays.

Meg: What would you say to other teens your age struggling with being LGBTQ?

Caitlyn: If I were to speak to teens everywhere struggling with being LGBTQ, I would tell them all to hang in there. I know it’s hard and I know it is a struggle every single day. I, as well as many other members of the LGBTQ community, understand what you’re going through, and we are all here for you. Stay proud of who you are, for you cannot change it. Do not be ashamed just because the majority of society looks down upon us. Do not hide the fact that you are gay just because you are afraid of what your parents and peers may think. You have to stand strong and face your battles in front of you with an iron fist. Just know that one day, all the hate, all the bullying, all the abuse, all the judgment will stop. Things will get better. Maybe not today or tomorrow or next week, but things will get easier. Have pride in who you are. And don’t you dare let anybody else tell you any different.

Sorry it’s so long — I’ve never really shared this information and I have a lot to say about it. Anyways, thank you for considering my essay to be published on your website. And also thank you so much for supporting the LGBTQ society. We appreciate it more than you think.

I appreciate Caitlyn sharing her essay. Skully’s right — it IS powerful:

Pride: The Story of Battle
by Caitlyn Silver-Sullivan

Susan runs home from school with her ACT results in her hand whipping back and forth from the wind. Her hair flails side to side as she takes each leap that seems like a thousand years. The sun is shining without a cloud in the sky, assuring her that today is a good day. She’s dying to get home, dying to show her parents how great of a job she did. Excitement pulses through her veins and her heart pounds through her chest as she slowly reaches for the doorknob. Her hands are sweaty; her whole body is dripping and her clothes are seeped with sweat from the run, but she doesn’t care. She masks her hysteria as she walks through the door and makes her way to the living room. She can hear the T.V. that they are so calmly watching; she can smell the chicken in the oven, heating to a delicious golden brown. She walks around the corner and enters the living room with a tranquil look on her face, but inside she can feel the butterflies. She slowly hands her dad and mom the paper and waits anxiously for their reaction. They jump up, happiness filling their eyes as sunshine lights up the room. “We’re so proud of you!” they exclaim; it was just the reaction she was looking for.

When most people are faced with the word “proud” or “pride” they simply think of accomplishing something that is of significance. Your parents are supposed to be proud of you when they watch you receive your high school diploma, you are supposed to be proud of yourself after writing a ten page paper all by yourself, you are supposed to be proud of your friend when they say they have broken up with their abusive boyfriend, you are supposed to have pride in your country, you are supposed to be proud of your ethnicity. Most people see pride in certain occasions and things. But in my opinion, this definition of pride is on a whole different boat than mine.

Susan walks down the streets of Chicago filled with unfamiliar faces holding the hand of her significant other. The noise of the city rings through her ears and the whooshing of cars that speed past almost makes her shake. She looks over her shoulder, love filling her eyes, and sees the most beautiful person in the world. Her name is Jennifer. And yes, they are a lesbian couple. Susan knows that everybody she passes is staring at their interlocked hands with curious expressions on their face. She knows that the civilians behind them are whispering to each other about them just because they are different. And last but not least, Susan knows that as she leans over to kiss Jennifer on the lake side, that disproving eyes will stare her down with their judgmental gleam. Susan knows that more people disapprove of her actions than people who do approve. Yet she continues walking with her head up, hand in hand with Jennifer, and she dares not to let go. She is proud to be gay.

Pride is when you constantly face a battle from society telling you to be someone else, but you don’t back down. You stand proud. You stand strong. If I had to define myself with a word, I would choose proud; I have experienced the millions of eyes looking down on me every single day, but every day I pass these eyes with my head high and a smile on my face, pride gleaming from my skin. They cannot change me. Nobody can change me. To me, that is what pride is. Pride is when I have experienced the brutality and pain from being different but walk with my head held high, pride is when I know I will be judged but do not open my ears, pride is when I absolutely will not let anybody or anything tell me who to be.

Pride is not materialistic. Pride is not a brief occasion of happiness when you accomplish something. Pride is not knowing the answer to a problem nobody else knows. Pride does not go away. Pride does not fade with time. Pride is everlasting. Pride is when you have lived your life with hatred pointed at you nonstop, but you will defend yourself to the death.

____________________________

Marvelous essay from a very brave, very strong 16-year-old who has every right to be proud. I salute her, and salute Skully for being proud of his daughter and doing the right thing as a parent. I’m honored to share this essay with the readers of Cognitive Dissonance.

Bravo, Caitlyn! You’ve got an amazing future ahead of you!

— Meg

(Source: cognitivedissonance)

Filed under Caitlyn Silver-Sullivan Pride GLBTQ gay rights lesbian high school bullying coming out LGBTQ LGBT bigotry homophobia acceptance teen