I’m about to get serious here, everyone. I try not to do it too often. I’d much rather keep things around here light and, of course, food related. But given the devastating number of youth suicides that have been reported these last few years, particularly within the GLBT community, I felt that I needed to share my coming out story with all of you.
This is not something I’ve told many people. It’s hard for me to relive, so for the last ten years I’ve found a way to lock up these memories. I keep them tucked away someplace deep in my soul. I know it’s not healthy and that’s why I’m sharing this.
From the very beginning of high school, I was pegged as someone who would be an easy target. Slightly overweight and probably more than a little effeminate, I immediately became the punching bag for a handful of upperclassmen. Thankfully, I was never beaten up (though I was threatened a few times). There were the occasional shoves into lockers or I was tripped by someone as I passed them in the hall. But none of this hurt me as much as the words that were so liberally thrown in my direction. Faggot. Gay. Queer.
These epithets were screamed at me in the locker room, in the cafeteria, even in the classroom, within earshot of my teachers (none of whom were in the least bit interested in addressing this issue).
For whatever reason, I wanted to try to deal with the situation on my own… and, out of desperation, I wrote an anonymous letter directed at the teachers of the school. I will spare you the details of what the letter said (I still have a copy of it), but reading it now, I’m not sure where I found the restraint. My goal was to make it known that there were gay students in our school and that teachers should not tolerate bullying.
Then, one morning, I walked into the mailroom and put the letter in the mailbox of every teacher. I waited to see what the reaction would be. Soon, rumors started to spread about this letter and a few kids started to ask their teachers to read it. Some did, some didn’t. After a few days, people had forgotten about it.
It certainly didn’t have the effect that I was hoping for. It didn’t change the way people treated me or the way teachers handled these situations. But it did get people talking and that was a start. And for me, personally, it was an empowering experience.
Shortly after this, I came out to my family. It was a difficult time for everyone, but it didn’t take long before things smoothed over. My parents love me and as I revealed myself to them, they embraced me and made it clear that this wouldn’t change the way they felt about me.
The bullying continued throughout the rest of high school. As I felt more comfortable with who I was, I didn’t let it bother me as much. And I surrounded myself with people who loved me and stood up for me. Soon, my allies outnumbered my opponents. It made me realize that things do get better, even if they’re not perfect.
As soon as I was out of high school, my life changed. I went to college and, from that point on, I was the person I wanted to be. No one cared if I was gay. They saw me for who I was as a person, and my sexual orientation made no difference to them. Once I moved to Boston for my studies, I got involved with GLBT issues. In 2004, I spent a number of long days at the Massachusetts State House, carrying signs in support of gay marriage and chanting until my voice went. We were fighting for our rights… for our lives. And, to our surprise, we won.
Then, six years ago, I met the man who is now my husband.
All I can say to the countless youth who are being bullied is this: find happiness wherever you can. Find it in something you love. Music, painting, cooking. Do your best to stay strong during these hard times. Don’t give up. It does get better. It will. If you had asked my 15 year old self if I thought I’d be out to my entire family, that I would get married to the man of my dreams and be surrounded by so many people who supported us and our love for one another? Never in a million years.
That’s why you have to stick it out. This world is big and beautiful with so many possibilities. No matter what happens, try to remember that.
I recently read a piece in the Huffington Post where a mother recounted the story of how her 7 year old son came out to her. The article brought tears to my eyes. Such love and acceptance. In addition, I want to direct you all to the It Gets Better website. The videos on the site are an inspiration.
I don’t want to leave you without a recipe. Something just feels right about including this purple carrot soup in this post (the color lavender has widely been used as a gay pride color). It’s a dish that as you cook and eat it, all seems right with the world. Enjoy.
Purple Carrot and Apple Soup
Note: The salt in the above photograph is a lavender salt that I just adore. It was a nice addition to the soup, but isn’t necessary. A little coarse sea salt would work just fine. Also, I’m entering this soup in this year’s SoupaPalooza from TidyMom and Dine and Dish. Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAid, Red Star Yeast and Le Creuset.
5 medium purple carrots, peeled, ends trimmed, and cut into 1 inch circles
2 medium sweet apples (such as Gala apples), peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1 tsp ginger powder
16 ounces vegetable stock
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Greek yogurt, optional
Coarse sea salt, optional
Heat olive oil in a medium pot and set to medium heat. Add the purple carrots, apples, honey, and ginger to the pot and toss to combine. Add vegetable stock and simmer over medium heat. Let simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes. Once the carrots and apples are tender, take off of heat and let cool.
Using an immersion blender (or you can do it in batches in a regular blender), puree the soup until it is smooth. Add more vegetable stock if it is too thick. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes before serving. Ladle into bowls and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt.