Navigating My Sexuality and Why I’m Done With ‘Coming Out’ by Chloe Heery
I had my first same-sex relationship when I was 18 and a half and despite living in a hetero straight centred world whereby I had been exposed to same-sex relationships very minimally at all, I had never felt like this before, it’s like something just clicked, the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle slotted in. It felt right, it felt good, it felt like me.
I have dimmed my real self down far too many times than I like to remember. There is always that worry, what will people think, what will people say when I reveal my sexuality. When asked questions like do you have a boyfriend? I have to make that split decision, do I just say no and leave it at that or do I say no but I have a girlfriend (this is obviously during times when I’m in a relationship). But sometimes it is not just as simple as that. I have to think of the potential negative consequences of ‘coming out’ to new people. A lot of the time it’s not because I think they will discriminate against me as luckily I have found the majority of people to be very accepting of who I am and who I love but because society has conditioned us that straight is the default, that being heterosexual is the norm and that any deviation away from this is not right, that it’s weird, that it’s different. Well, it is different to what is considered ‘normal’ but it’s a wonderful difference, it’s a part of me that I embrace and that I love because it is me and everyone else deserves to feel like this. That saying, every time I ‘out myself’, (yes because of the hetero normative society we live in ‘outing’ ourselves is something that I have to do far too often) I always think is this going to change their opinion of me, what comments are they possibly going to say. If it is in my job or career, is this possibly going to work against me? Because there is always some sort of negative consequence, whether that’s being invalidated by low key homophobic comments like ‘well which one of you is the boy/man?’ or when sometimes other girls say ‘I might try being with a girl, I have no luck with boys’ as if we are some sort of experiment or phase. Believe it or not, we are both women in the relationship as that’s kind of the whole point of being attracted to women, I don’t want there to be a man in sight. Often people think these comments are harmless, but they are invalidating. I can only speak from my own personal experience of being a lesbian. I also want to touch on that, sometimes I find it slightly difficult to even type lesbian because for some reason it’s seen as a dirty word. There are lots of different terms ‘gay’ ‘queer’ ‘lesbian’ and people will have their own preference, what they feel comfortable with. I do usually use the word gay but I want to start embracing the word lesbian more because it is not a dirty word, it’s a beautiful word and it’s a part of my identity which I am very proud of.
This just touches the surface, just a few thoughts and reflections on what it’s like to be a lesbian, on what it’s like to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ Community. I can only speak from my own personal experience. This experience is just a drop in the ocean, there are so many other experiences. So many other sexualities and identities that we should educate ourselves on. So many different perspectives to learn about and learn from about how we can become more accepting, more diverse, and more inclusive. My journey of ‘coming out’ ( I really do dislike this term, maybe we should start using something more neutral like discovering my sexuality, I’m not sure if that works though either, but we need something new whatever it is) has helped me to accept and learn so much about not just myself but others from the LGBTQIA+ community. The most important thing I have learnt is that we are all strong, valid and worthy of acceptance, support and love.
Written by Chloe Heery
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‘Gruffalo’ by Hattie Fennell
I was inspired to write this poem through my own personal experience of an abusive relationship, one which wormed itself into my head and altered how I viewed myself. I used to place a lot of blame onto my shoulders for not seeing the relationship for what it was. After therapy, I embraced myself with a whole new outlook. I learned to see that I was protecting myself within that relationship and the option of leaving was not always a safe choice to make. And that’s okay. This poem shows the gruelling and harsh question of why didn’t she know, but focuses on the monstrous imagery of an attacker inspired by the infamous children’s story. I share all my love with anyone who can relate to this poem, and please know you survived and that is enough. Keep going…
he looked at her,
and she looked good.
he had terrible fists
and terrible claws,
and terrible words
from his terrible jaw.
why didn’t she know?
his eyes are green,
his tongue toxic and black,
chills run all the way
down her back.
he has holes in his walls,
and makes her feel small.
for he knocks her down
and down she falls.
why didn’t she know?
he gruffs and huffs
through grumbles and moans
his skin too tough
hers bruised to the bone.
with a whack and a slap
she tries to fight back
there’s a crack, a snap
why didn’t she know?
she was in love with the gruffalo.
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PTSD: What is it?
Author: Caitlin MacLeod
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by exposure to a traumatic event. It has been described as a “memory filing error”, as PTSD-havers often re-experience aspects of the traumatic event if they are triggered. Whilst flashbacks are one of the well-known symptoms of PTSD, there are many other mental and physical effects.
Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event. Trauma can have long term effects on the person who experiences it that may not be PTSD. Trigger is a psychological term to describe a prompt to the memory of this trauma that results in flashbacks, triggers can come from anywhere and often result in instantaneous flashbacks. Flashbacks are the re-experiencing of the traumatic event, this can be through visual, auditory, or emotional recollections.
Everyone’s reaction to traumatic stress is different, but some common symptoms of PTSD are: flashbacks, memory loss, avoiding people, places and things that may remind them of the traumatic event. Adverse effect on sleep cycles, hypervigilance, dissociation, intrusive thoughts are also common effects.
For more symptoms: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/symptoms/
When does trauma result in PTSD?
PTSD follows a traumatic event but not all traumatic events lead to the development of this disorder. After the traumatic event, some people may experience symptoms severe enough and for long enough to be categorized as PTSD. Some people may experience symptoms of post traumatic stress, this won’t always lead to the disorder itself. PTSD is when the traumatic stress has seriously impacted the person’s life to the point of it being an ongoing, long term disorder. People with PTSD may even have experienced trauma that didn’t result in or affect their disorder.
For more information on the difference between traumatic stress effects and post traumatic stress disorder: https://www.priorygroup.com/blog/trauma-and-ptsd-exploring-the-differences
Fight, flight, freeze and fawn
Some common responses to a terrible event are fight, flight, freeze and fawn. These responses are related to the evolutionary survival instinct and the brain effectively “shutting off” certain parts of itself that aren’t needed to survive the circumstances. Fight and flight are largely known, but the reaction to terrible events has never been binary. Freeze is being unable to move, people may dissociate from severe circumstances to cope. Fawn is when someone will try and appease the person or situation to try and prevent themselves from being hurt. This can be preventative, reactionary or happen in everyday life when triggered.
“Declarative memory functioning” describes the knock-on effect of the memory-loss PTSD havers may experience. This may look like a prolonged suppression of memories, trouble remembering the details surrounding the event, everyday memory problems, or so on. There is often an adverse effect on PTSD-havers ability to remember aspects of their lives, especially when related to the event.
What is it like to have PTSD aside from flashbacks?
PTSD may lead to the individual actively avoiding places, people or thoughts that remind them of the traumatic event. They may not be aware why they are doing it as the mind is trying to protect the person from re-experiencing further trauma. PTSD often has a serious impact on sleep, whether it’s from trauma related dreams, insomnia or other issues. The individual often experiences trouble with their memories, self-esteem and with shame or blame cycles that affect self-identity.
Traumatic stress and PTSD are both serious afflictions and the continued effects can be extremely detrimental to those who experience it. We recommend contacting your doctor if you are still having traumatic stress more than four weeks after the event.
This is a list of alternate treatment services or centres for those in the UK: https://www.ptsduk.org/treatment-options/where-to-get-help/