OPINION: How LGBTQ students carry on after being disowned

Illustration

David Mesquita

Illustration

Kayla Merritt, Reporter

To all the LGBTQ students here at CSUN, if you came home any night this week after school and cried because you lost so many people you wanted to share your accomplishments with, I just want to tell you that you aren’t alone. I did too.

Over the past few weeks of my first semester here, I have been feeling so much melancholy, sorrow and trauma bubbling up. Last night it finally all boiled over. This week I had accomplished so much and all I wanted to do was share it with my family. But they’re gone. The trauma of being disowned by my family hit me in the chest harder than it has in a while. I cried and I’m still crying.

If you’re not sure when you are going to stop crying too, then you aren’t alone because I’m not sure when I’ll stop either.

We LGBTQ students who have lost our families have to carry a heavy burden along with the stress of being students. According to BestColleges.com, 92% of LGBTQ students say their mental health has negatively affected some part of their experience at college. If that statistic surprises you, then I ask you to consider this: If you have been disowned by your parents, then filling out your FAFSA as a dependent student has become a nightmare. You may be part of the 40% of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ.

But I think beyond all those horrifying things, the greatest pain in being a disowned LGBTQ student is knowing that everything from your college acceptance letter to your graduation ceremony is not going to be shared with the people who claimed to have unconditional love for you.

I’m a nonbinary trans femme who came out as a teenager and lost nearly everyone. My dad died unexpectedly before I had the opportunity to come out to him. My mom fluctuated between phases of being very supportive and being incredibly abusive. Right now, we’ve landed on supportive, but she doesn’t live here and getting a hold of her on the phone or getting her to respond to a text is incredibly difficult.

The biggest loss of coming out was my grandparents, who practically raised me. They refused to accept me and treated me like I committed the worst act against them possible. Both of them died a few years ago, so there’s no chance at reconciling with them. There’s no chance at reconciliation with my aunt and uncle either, who refuse to acknowledge my existence in any way. So, I’m left with one parent who barely talks to me for reasons I’m not quite sure of. My family was very close before I came out to them, so this loss weighs heavily on me.

Along with the burden of being a traumatized LGBTQ student, I also must find my own family again through school. Now I’m very fortunate to have a loving girlfriend I live with and have a peaceful relationship with. But it still doesn’t completely heal the pain that my family throwing me away caused me. To do that, I must open myself up at school and let myself be vulnerable.

I’m letting myself be vulnerable right now writing this because I’m tired of spending holidays lonely. I want to have people to share my accomplishments with. I want to have a family cheering me on when I graduate. I want to be an aunt to someone’s child and when I’m on my deathbed know that I had a beautiful family that I spent the best years of my life with.

So along with the stress of getting good grades and making it to class on time, I also must shift my trauma aside as much as possible and open my wounded heart a little. I think you might have to do the same thing, my heartbroken darling.

We LGBTQ individuals deserve a family. We deserve to have a mom and dad, sisters and brothers, and we don’t deserve to lose them for any reason. So, while you’re crying, know I’m crying with you. But let’s also try to pick ourselves up. Let’s try to thaw our frozen hearts just a little bit and be open to love.

I think no matter what has happened to me that there are good people in the world and lots of them go to our school. They would love to hear from you about how good you did at school, how many friends you made, what sorority or fraternity you joined, and how much your hard work has blossomed into something beautiful.

So, let’s cry together because we have the right to feel this hurt. But the next day you’re at school try to smile at someone new. That person might be the first one to be part of your new family.