I am home

Sam Torres, Research Associate

January 7th, 2015. I was curled up on her lap watching TV with friends. Her fingers fluttered through my hair like a butterfly floating through a fall breeze. Courage overcame me and I dared to look up at her. To my surprise, her eyes met mine. A feeling of warmth and safety flooded my body. That’s when I knew that I was gay.

It’s been over 7 years since I realized I was gay. Since then, I have come out countless times to family, friends, and coworkers. Not only have I learned about my sexuality, but I have also come to terms with being non-binary. Throughout this journey of self-love and acceptance, I also found ignorance and fear. Moving through the world as a queer person is exhausting.

Constantly wondering if you are safe to:

  • Mention your significant other, even in casual conversation

  • Wear your binder or other gender affirming clothes in public

  • Put rainbow pins or stickers on your personal belongings

  • Hold hands with your partner on a walk

  • Talk to your healthcare team about your sexuality and/or gender

The list goes on. While I have been out since the age of 16, this year was my first Pride. I didn’t know what to expect, but it surely wasn’t to be moved to tears. All the love and acceptance I was searching for was tangible. For once in a really long time, I felt light. It felt amazing to be able to move throughout the world without having to worry about my safety. Without this anxiety, I was able to focus on what really mattered: being authentically me.

Being at Pride reminded me of that feeling of warmth and safety that I felt on January 7th, 2015. Ultimately, I learned that Pride as a queer person means that I can rest. That I am home.

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The Center on Substance Use and Health stands in solidarity of the transgender and non-binary lives taken too soon by violence. We embrace this community, and we remain committed to inclusivity, safet