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"I want to get a tattoo or a piercing, but my parents won’t let me. How do I explain to them that this is how I want to express myself?”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Allyee Whaley Says:

When I was 13 years old I wrote my parents a 10 page paper on why getting my belly button pierced was an expression of my true self, with lots of facts and research supporting my argument. My parents didn’t really know what to do with the paper, but they did end up letting me get my belly button pierced. Then my nose. Then my lip. Then my eyebrow (you get the picture). Tattoos were always off the table. Around 16, I went behind my parents back and got a tattoo anyway, and my parents felt like their trust was broken. Now almost a decade later, I am covered in tattoos and piercings, my hand is fully tattooed and all hope is lost that I will ever fit into mainstream society. And guess what? My parents still totally love me and support me. But not everyone grows up in Oakland, California with feminist queer parents who always encouraged us to be fully and authentically ourselves, so here are some things I would keep in mind when navigating this path:

1.     Always try and partner with your parents first. If you want a specific tattoo that means something to you, explain what it means and why it is important. My first tattoo was a quote (that I misquoted, on my arm), “For Failure Isn’t Falling Down, But Staying Down.” I was def a “wild child” who was committed to being the best at being the worst, but I was trying to turn things around. I explained to my parents this was the first quote I ever heard that made me feel like I could change, that I could be more, I could be happy. I explained that every time I wanted to give up, I couldn’t, because I would look down at my arm and be reminded of my commitment to betterness. As mad as they were that I lied to them, it was pretty hard for them to fight this explanation. I definitely don’t think tattoos haveto have meaning to be important, I think body modification in itself is a meaningful practice, and has been throughout human history.

2.     It is super important to weigh that people with tattoos & piercings still do face discrimination, especially if you count in other forms of oppression working with them (race, religion, ability, orientation, gender, location, etc).  Only in recent years has the culture around tattoos shifted in America, as they are becoming mainstream. Parents often don’t support their kin getting tattooed, not only because they don’t want them to suffer (from the pain of body modification), but because they often don’t want us to be seen as “society’s deviants”. A lot of people say this is why family can get initially spooked when LGBTQ+ young people come out, because they instinctively want to keep them out of harms way and they know by being LBGTQ+ they will live a harder life. The same logic can be applied for tattoos/piercings. If you let your parents know you have considered this reality, it can help them understand you are weighing all the consequences and still think it’s important.

3.     “But what if you regret it?!” – the number one argument against body modification. The most common response to this argument tends to be, “tattoos can always be covered, they can always be removed,” but I think it is important to point out to your parents that body modification can also teach us a hell of a lot about acceptance. I think it is pretty normal to have different feelings towards our tattoos/piercings as we grow. For years my lip piercing was such a part of my identity, my face, my reality, I never once thought to remove it. Now that it’s been out for years I laugh at old pictures of myself like “why world!!!!” but I don’t regret it. I appreciate how much it meant to me, it showed the world from the get go that I was different, I was badass. Body modification has taught me to not only accept myself, my past, my future, but celebrate each part of my journey as uniquely my own. Beyond regret, let your parents know that body modification can also be a tool for radical self love & care. Getting tattooed was one of the first times I realized what it felt like to actually love myself.  With each new piece, I stare in the mirror filled with joy thinking, “damn, look at how awesome I am!” Tattoos and piercings were also one of the first things to show me how to physically care for and nurture my body (because body modification takes lots of daily care, anywhere from 2 weeks-9 months, and beyond). Radical self love, radical self acceptance, those are things body modification can teach us if we let them.

4.     Not all parents are going to be okay with tattoos or piercings. Some might never be okay with them. Your safety and the value of your relationship with your parents are super important to weigh as you decide to embark on this lifestyle. I have adult friends to this day who hide their tattoos from their parents. Most of the time my friends hide their tattoos so they can retain their relationship with their parents, and therefore also their community/culture/religion. That is their choice and something they have considered the pros and cons of, so I encourage you to do the same. Some parents might say stuff like “if you ever get a tattoo, I will no longer speak to you.” This is something to weigh: is getting a tattoo/piercing right now worth losing XYZ?

5.     If all else fails and you decide to go behind your parents back and get one anyway, please consider a few things. Any tattoo/piercing shop that is working on someone under the age of 18 without their parents consent is doing something very illegal, and could lose their license for doing so. From my experience, these shops tend to also be doing other illegal things, including but not limited to, not being up to health codes, as well as not being very experienced at giving out tattoos or piercings. These things increase the chance of infection, injury, transmission of things like HIV through needles, and very very very worst case scenario can lead to death (usually from infection). Also, they tend to not give out very good tattoos, but hey, that’s relative, right? All this to say, I’m totally a harm reduction gal and if you weigh all these things and still think it’s worth it, then go for it. That is your choice. I know my first tattoo saved my life over and over again when things got dark– I wouldn’t take it back for the world. I also would have gone about it TOTALLY differently if I was to get it now, but whatever, that’s all a part of growing up, learning and changing.

Wanting a tattoo and/or piercing is totally normal. You may or may never convince your parents to let you get one while you live under their roof/they feed you or finically support you. They may never acknowledge, support or appreciate your body modification even after you move out. If you’re lucky, they may come around one day, but if that day isn’t soon enough for you, it’s up to you to weigh all the pros and cons and move forward. It is your life, your body, and your choice.

Allyee Whaley has long strived to create balance in the universe by listening attentively, advocating ruthlessly, and loving compassionately. She is an openly polyamorous queer based in New York City who will talk your ear off about anthropology, human sexuality, social justice, and mystical creatures. Please help support her and all of our incredible contributors here on Patreon.


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Safety Planning for the Holidaze

by Allyee, Wes, and Everyone at The Trevor Project

Ho Ho Ho, Merry…  Ehhh… Not so fast.  For so many of us, the holidays can be a super stressful and challenging time.  On top of the regular challenges we face during the holidays (what presents to buy, how many treats to indulge in, which ugly sweater to wear), LGBTQ young people often face many other obstacles to having wonderful holiday cheer.

At The Trevor Project, we hear from young people from all kinds of backgrounds about their experiences with the holidays. This might include traveling home for the holidays, spending more time than normal with family while being on break from school, or not going home at all. Of course, some young people return to supportive or welcoming homes and loved ones.  However, this doesn’t necessarily protect them from potentially triggering or traumatic situations. All of these different situations might bring up experiences like:

– Having family members who may be openly hostile towards your LGBTQ identity;

– Being around family and having to go back into the closet, even if you’re out in other environments; this can be especially difficult for trans*, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming youth who may have to revert to unwanted gender expressions, names or pronouns;

– Not feeling safe or supported enough to go home or visit family;

– Watching friends and loved ones visit their families when you have faced rejection or hostility from your own;

– Being homeless due to family rejection or hostility – something that really impacts our community. 

While we can’t possibly cover every “what if”, we do know that every young person deserves the chance to thrive, regardless of their identities.  So, we had the ENTIRE staff at The Trevor Project come together and brainstorm Holiday Self Care Ideas for YOU. Here is what we came up with:

– Budget personal time to decompress. You don’t have to be around people all the time, despite what it may seem like.

– Take walks: Try making playlists to match your mood.

– Create a self-care corner: Place happy reminders or notes in mirrors, on your dresser, or in a bag to brighten your day along the way.

– Brainstorm “safe” conversation topics for family.  Try to find neutral topics that decrease the likelihood for offense or pain.

– Plan game time for family/friends: This takes away the pressure to create conversation!

– Try to keep in touch with your chosen family/friends while you’re away from them. Schedule phone or chat dates regularly or for times when you think you might need them.

– Try to acknowledge the things in your life you’re grateful for, or things you’ve accomplished that you’re proud of (big or small). Write them down. If you keep this list in your phone, you can pull it up whenever/wherever.

– Don’t overextend yourself financially if you don’t want to.  You can give gifts and appreciation cheaply or free!

– Give away items you don’t need to charities or shelters.

– Sing! Practice self-karaoke!

– If religion is an important part of the holidays for you, try finding a welcoming congregation in the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Institute for Welcoming Resources.

– Identify safe places if you’re traveling somewhere. Are there Community Centers, or LGBTQ-inclusive spaces in the area in case you need a place to go? Sometimes the best place to go is to an online community. YouTube has a bunch of awesome people and videos to lend support and a giggle or two (I dare you to not smile at this video) Also, TrevorSpace is an online community for LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 from all over the world, and it’s a great place to find support.

– It is especially important for those of us who aren’t going home for the holidays to reach out for support. Whether that be the family/friends you have chosen, or through an online community. If you need a place to stay, please don’t hesitate to contact the National Runaway Safeline at 1-800-RUNAWAY or us here at The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386.

– Create your own traditions with a person or people that are meaningful to you. This can be laying in bed all watching movies, having your own party or dinner with friends, or signing up to volunteer at your local soup kitchen.

– Anticipate challenges and healthy responses that keep you safe above all else, and come prepared with those. There is a chance that you might encounter homophobic, transphobic or biphobic remarks. Before standing up to these, some things to think about are; is it safe for me to stand up to this remark? What is the best case scenario? (Can I change their viewpoint? Can I help them understand why that is hurtful and/or offensive? Will they apologize?) What is the worst case scenario? (Will I be outed? Will they say even more hurtful things? Will I get in trouble? Will I be upset for the rest of the trip?) Do you have an alternative place to stay if things get too intense?

– Safety Plan! Do you need help making an individual safety plan? Call The Trevor Project anytime at 1-866-488-7286 and we can make a master plan together.

– Accept sadness. Sometimes we stress ourselves out with feelings we “should” feel. Sadness is okay to feel, especially at the holidays.

Finally, remember that Trevor is here 24/7 at 1-866-7386, including every single holiday. Our trained counselors are here to listen to whatever it is that you are going through and work with you to create your very own safety plan and Holiday Self Care List.

This time of year is an awesome time for reflection and gratitude.  Sometimes, it can feel almost impossible to find things to be grateful for.  At Trevor, we feel tremendously grateful for your trust in us in helping you through those dark times.

We’ll be here every single day and night if you need us.  You are never alone.

Click through to read more about Allyee and our other Second Opinions panelists!


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"I’ve been thinking about suicide a lot lately. I finally started telling people I need help but it feels like no one is listening to me. It’s like they don’t take me seriously. My depression destroyed my college career, my job is about to fire me, I’m losing friends, everything is a mess. I feel so far in over my head. How can I make things better?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Allyee Whaley of The Trevor Project as part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions.

Allyee Says:

I really appreciate your strength to share your story openly and whole heartedly. Feeling depressed and suicidal is very difficult, but when you also feel completely alone, life can sometimes feel like it is too much to bear. So many young people struggle with similar situations and by you being brave enough to speak up, it can help others know they too are not alone.

All of the things you described are common consequences of those who struggle with depression. When one is depressed, it can be very painful to feel, can make you isolate from your friends and family, cause one to be tired all the time and take away one’s motivation to do things, not enjoy the things they usually like to do, sleep and eat much less or more than usual, and make one see everything in their life in a negative way. Sometimes the depression can get so bad it can make a person think of ending their life. Sometimes people think about ending their life when they feel very depressed, feel like things will never get better and helpless to make things better in their life. You can learn more about depression here.

Please know that if you were no longer here, the world would be a much, much emptier place. If you ever have thoughts of killing yourself, it’s very important for your safety that you immediately tell someone you trust about your thoughts of suicide. If you ever feel you’re going to act on those thoughts, immediately call 911 or get to your nearest hospital emergency room. If there’s no one you feel comfortable talking with or would like more support, you can always call the Trevor lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, 24 hours 7 days a week. Our caring, understanding and supportive counselors are here to talk with you about everything you’re feeling and going through and want to do whatever is needed to keep you safe.

I know that so far you haven’t gotten the results you’ve wanted by reaching out for help and that is really unfair. Finding someone supportive you can talk to is really important for everyone and I think your instincts to reach out when you need help will serve you well, once you find that person you can lean on. That person can be a therapist, friend, family member, Trevor Project Counselor, or anyone you can trust. When we have direct conversations with people about what’s happening in our life, we want to be met with someone who just listens. We want someone who doesn’t try to immediately solve our problems, but someone who can just sit with us in that pain and tell us “hey, that really sucks!” Sometimes our friends or family don’t know what to say, or might even be scared when we reach out to them for help. It is important to remember that other people’s responses to your feelings aren’t a reflection of you! Your problems are worthy of empathy, validation and respect.

While there is no magical answer on how to make things better, I can tell you, depression is a treatable condition, and it is possible to build a wonderful life for yourself. When it feels like everything is falling apart, trying to take steps to feel better can be one of the most daunting tasks. It isn’t going to be easy. The struggle is REAL, especially for those who struggle with depression. A number of things can be helpful, but it really just depends on what appeals to you, or what kinds of things you like doing. Some things you can ask yourself are: What things have you enjoyed doing in the past? What makes you feel good? For example, Do you like to draw, write, sing or dance? Does a bubble bath help you relax? You might not be the bubble bath type, but more of the “let me put on super loud punk music,” type. Whatever works for you and makes YOU feel good, as long as you aren’t harming yourself or others, is enough! It can be really hard to find the motivation to take care of ourselves especially when we get really depressed. You’d be amazed what a big difference it can make to add in a little bit of self-care in your life. And you don’t have to do it all at once. Allow yourself the space to make mistakes, to try new behaviors and see how they feel. We all have to continue to grow and adjust the way we cope throughout our lives, and that’s perfectly okay! Maya Angelou, once said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Part of this struggle you are experiencing right now might be helping you grow into this wonderful butterfly that is totally and uniquely YOU!

What I can see, is that you are a strong, brave person who is able to stand up, share your story and ask for help. You’ve already made a strong first step by reaching out for support! You don’t have to go through any of this alone.


Click through to read more about Allyee and our other Second Opinions Panelists!


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***Trigger Warning: Self-Harm***
"It’s been months, but yesterday I felt so on edge and I cut again. I hate that I did that, and I never want to do it again. How do I stop this? How do I feel in control of my life without hurting myself?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Allyee Whaley of The Trevor Project as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions.

Allyee Says:

Hey there!

To share the fact that you self-harm isn’t easy, so I deeply admire your decision to be open and honest about what you’re going through right now. You show what an incredibly brave person you are by reaching out for help and support when you’re in such an emotionally hard place. I’m so glad that despite how you’re feeling, you haven’t given up and that you’re fighting—because you’re definitely worth fighting for! It took courage to write in and I’m really glad you chose to get help from Everyone Is Gay.

To start, I would like to commend you for not cutting in months! That is not an easy accomplishment, and it shows what strength and perseverance you have. It can be hard to break any pattern that has been in our lives for a long time. Falling back on old behavior happens to everyone and that doesn’t mean you’ve failed! A long time ago, someone once read me a quote by Mary Pickford that said, “If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Getting back up again requires strength and bravery, and every time you do, you become a stronger and more confident person.

It might help to know that some people cut as a way of dealing with or managing difficult, painful, or overwhelming emotions. For some, cutting relieves stress or tension. They find that the physical pain of cutting is a distraction from the emotional pain. Others feel that the cutting gives them a feeling of control when things in life or their emotions feel out of control. Still others feel numb or “dead inside” and cutting helps them to feel alive. You may be experiencing some, all, or none of these things. It’s important for you to know that cutting may help you to feel better briefly, but the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it can become as it can cause permanent scars, infections, and serious, sometimes life-threatening medical problems.

If you feel like cutting, there are lots of ways to help yourself feel better without putting yourself at risk. Think about how you feel before and after you cut. If cutting helps to release anger, you might try getting the anger out in another way, like hitting a pillow, stomping around in heavy shoes, putting on a heavy metal song, ripping up an old newspaper, or flattening aluminum cans. If cutting helps you when you’re sad, try different things that help you feel taken care of and comforted. That may include listening to certain songs, calling a friend, or eating a favorite food. If the cutting helps you to feel less numb, do something that creates a sharp physical feeling like putting your hand briefly in ice water or stomping your feet on the ground.

The next thing to know is that you are not alone. I’m going to give you some resources to check out. Try and see if any of them might be a good place to start.

HelpGuide.org: Cutting and Self Harm

HealthyPlace.com: Cutting Help and Treatment

The Butterfly Project

self-injury.net: support community for self-injurers

TeenHelp: Alternatives to self-harm

Keep in mind that many people continue to search, grow, and adjust the way they cope with pain and crisis their whole lives. What works for us one day might not work the next—and that’s completely okay!

It’s also super important to find someone who is understanding and open-minded who can listen and talk to you about what you’re going through. Is there an adult in your life with whom you feel like you connect? It might be a teacher, family member, or someone in another area of your life. Many people find that having a safe space to talk about their feelings can bring clarity to deeply set issues. If you are in the United States and a time comes when you think that speaking to someone might help you fight the urge to cut, or if you are ever feeling like you might hurt yourself, please call The Trevor Project’s 24-Hour Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. The Trevor Project, which is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24, has many other life-affirming resources to help you out when you’re in crisis. To learn more about their services, check outhttp://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/get-help-now.

Above all, remember that you have so many people in your life who care about you and want to support you as you learn and grow in this next chapter of your life!

With love and support,


Click through to read more about Allyee and our other Second Opinions panelists!

Everyone Is Gay has started a new project to help parents who have LGBTQ kids: Check out The Parents Project!