, , , , , , , , , , ,

"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!


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

"I’m genderqueer and have been wanting to take testosterone, but something’s been holding me back. I recently realized men make me uncomfortable and there aren’t many I like so my brain says men=bad. If I take T I will be masculine looking and people will probably think I’m a guy, so brain says me looking like a man= me being what i don’t like. I know I want that for my body, but my mind is suffering. I don’t know if that makes sense."

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Liam Lowery as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions.

Liam Says:

To me, your question makes loads of sense. It’s a really important question, and I’m really glad you asked.

I’ll start out by telling you where I am at today: I am on testosterone, I have had gender affirming surgery, I prefer he/him pronouns, and I wear what are widely considered traditional men’s clothes. But I am not a man. What I choose to do with my body does not make me anything at all—that is solely the province of my heart and my mind.

It took years to get here, but let me try to simplify the processes that got me here as much as I can.

Before starting testosterone, I thought hormones were a thing that definitivelymade you a man or a woman. And why shouldn’t I have? All the men I knew had physical similarities to other men, and the same was true of women, and I didn’t know any trans people. More than that, after an 8th grade sex ed class focused on how the hormones men and women have determine everything from emotional intelligence to sexual desire, I was pretty sure hormones were the secret ingredient that made gender what it was.

Imagine my conflict when I longed for those “manly” physical qualities, which were attached to people whose socialization and way of being repulsed me. I felt icky, to say the least.

I thought that simply the act of starting hormone therapy would make me into something I didn’t want to be, a man (cue vomit noise—in case you couldn’t tell, I also have issues with dudes, you are not alone) and felt so trapped because I wanted the physical effects badly, but didn’t want to lose myself or be seen as a man. There was one night in particular where I laid on the floor of a powder room in my parent’s basement and cried out into the void, “Why does arm hair have to be a man thing?”

What I really meant was, “What the hell does it mean about me that I want arm hair?”

Short answer, I would come to find out, is it doesn’t mean anything. It just is. So I decided to start testosterone. I signed all the waivers at the doctor’s office about the permanent effects with informed abandon, thinking This has got to be better than how I feel now.

Holding the amber vial in my hand for the first time felt very much like holding a pipe bomb. That’s because, at best, you can only be about 82% sure you want to start hormones because you can’t calculate the effects they will have on you or not, since they effect everyone differently. But after reading the list of side-effects, you can be 100% sure that you want to try, that it will make you better off. So as I plunged the needle into my leg, I thought to myself I’ll figure out the rest of this stuff later, I guess.

It turns out what I thought was the end of my figuring out that divine question, (“Who am I?”) was only the beginning. That was three years ago and I can still ponder for hours.

I will tell you what helped me decide to start testosterone:

Imagine you are on an island. And on the island there is an unlimited supply of testosterone and needles and alcohol swabs, and no one there to lay any judgment on what it would mean for you to start T, no men there to say ”You’re like me now!” and no women to say “You are less like me now,” and no other members of the trans community to analyze your choices. There is only you. There is also food and clean water of course, so whatever decision you make you will have to live with for a while. What would you do then?

This may sound like a silly hypothetical, but the truth is no one has to live in your body but you, so in a way you really are on an island. And when you lay down your head on the pillow, you will be the only one who feels your body breathing, you will be the one who has to live in this shell, this envelope, this body for the rest of your life.  The question is less about what it will mean if you modify your body with hormones, and more about how you want your body to look and feel.

I can testify that T doesn’t make you into anything. It does, typically, make you hornier and hairier and deeper-voiced. It might make you slightly more muscular; it might make it harder for you to cry. It might also make you crave buffalo chicken when you never even liked buffalo chicken before! But no one determines whether you a man or a woman or a beautiful snowflake living in between except you. For better of for worse, you alone are the one who knows who you are. And no, I am not doing a Yoda impression.

That being said, I realize you don’t exist in a vacuum, and some things that happen after you start T and start passing or pass more can’t be changed. Now, women on the street at night walk a little faster when they see me walking behind them, men make comments about women’s bodies in my company, and I throw up in my mouth. But perhaps most painful of all is when other trans folks question my choices about hormones and surgeries, call me an assimilationist because I dress and appear a certain way.

I can tell you that these experiences feel gross, and that they make me want to change how people see me. So I come out to people as often as I can—a general rule for me is that I want to be out to anyone I will see more than once. Part of this is to help increase trans visibility, but an equally large part is that I want to correct the errant assumption that to look masculine = to be male. We all deserve better than that.

No decision around starting or not starting hormones is wrong, and it’s important to think about why and how you are making that choice. Additionally, you can decide something today, and change your mind later—many trans folks postpone hormone therapy or stop it at some point, and the world never stops turning. So take your time and let your mind explore what you’d hope to get out of hormones, and what you’d be afraid to lose.

Hormones could never change you inside, my friend. They could never turn you into a man, regardless of what people may see. The flawed assumptions people make based on your appearance about your experiences just go to illustrate how little room there is for trans people in the minds of cis people, and how many trans people pass judgment on one another’s choices. For every one person who may applaud you, there will be one hundred who think you are shirking your identity or trying to gain male privilege. So you can only be accountable to yourself in this decision, and take care of your own needs.

Inside you, there are oceans of contemplation that no one but you will sail. You are on a journey. Don’t let the way others see you or the way you may see others slow you down, just do what you must to get to a safe port. You can always sort out the problematic nature of conflating some physical qualities with gender identity later.


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


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“I really need help! I want to break up with my boyfriend, but in past attempts to do so, he said he would commit suicide, and I don’t want to be responsible for someone ending their life. I do still care about him, so it makes me really sad. Please, please help me!”

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Dr. Kelly Wester, PhD as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Dr. Wester Says:

**TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide is discussed in the below post**

Let’s first acknowledge that this statement by your boyfriend, or any partner or friend for that matter, puts you in what feels like a helpless bind. Before moving into what you can do, we need to acknowledge that there are a lot of reasons why an individual might threaten suicide, including past experiences of trauma, current stressful situations that feel overwhelming and hopeless, a sense of feeling like a burden, being alienated from others, feelings of loss, and feeling out of control. With all of these going on, no one person (partner included) will be able to fix or save that individual on their own. A suicidal individual needs professional help, and sometimes from more than one professional. This can include mental health counselors, psychiatrists, medical doctors, and more.

Getting back to the situation at hand, ultimately his threats of suicide when you attempt to break up are a way to manipulate you and gain control. And it seems like it has worked for him, as you have tried multiple times to breakup yet find yourself still in the relationship.

In this situation he has, on the surface, put the responsibility of his life into your hands (based on your decision to end the relationships or not) – or so it seems. However, ultimately he has responsibility for his own life. Keep in mind that he is the only person who is responsible for his behaviors, choices, and decisions – theonly person. He chooses how he reacts, what he says, and what he does. So you are not responsible. You can, however, make the situation better or worse based on your choices and behaviors.

This acknowledgment of responsibility, though, might not make it feel better to have this threat hanging over your head. So what you need to do is not waver in your decision. Simply have the conversation with him and be direct. Say something like, “I need to talk” and then, “I no longer want to be in this relationship.” Stick to this decision (if it is what you want to do) regardless of his statements. Wavering back and forth and breaking up and getting back together based on threats is not fair to either of you.

If he threatens suicide when you have this conversation, express concern. Indicate that you care about him as a person, as a friend, and as a human being. State that breaking up with him doesn’t mean you don’t care about him, but rather that the relationship is changing. Indicate that his threat is not fair and that it holds you hostage, and ask him if he really wants to be in a relationship that exists solely due to the manipulation or sense of hostage from your fear of his death.

What you should not do in this situation is argue about whether he will commit suicide or not, or make challenging statements such as “I don’t believe you” or even “I don’t care” out of frustration. This can lead someone to assume that challenge and engage in the behavior or attempt suicide just to prove that they would.

Once you leave that conversation (or while you are still in it, for that matter), if you feel uncomfortable or have a strong fear that he will actually engage in suicidal behaviors, call 911 and provide them with that information and the address of his location. It is not your job to deal with the suicidal behavior or help him through that emotional place–let a professional handle that. As a friend, your job is to listen and show concern and care, but not to treat the suicidal behavior or to handle it on your own.

If you have questions, or if you want to refer him to a place to talk, feel free to call a hotline such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) or find one in your local state http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html. Remember–the threats about suicide, although they seem like it, are ultimately not about you – they are about something he is going through and internally battling.


Click through to read more about Dr. Wester 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!


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

"I feel so mixed up. I don’t know if I’m lesbian or bisexual (currently out as lesbian), and even though I’m open, I still feel a significant amount of internalized homophobia that keeps me from being 100% happy. Other queer women make me uneasy, and depictions of lesbians/lesbian sex in media (even indie stuff) leaves me with this weird disgust and anxiety. I love my gf and having sex with her, and I’m an activist. But I still find myself depressed that I’m not straight. I don’t know what to do."

-Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Kai Davis as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Kai Says:

It seems to me like you are experiencing a lot of different conflicts right now in regards to your sexuality, and that is completely normal and understandable. Identity and orientation are complicated, and no one’s experience is exactly the same. The first conflict you mentioned, about whether or not you’re lesbian or bisexual, could be causing you some anxiety because of the labels themselves, rather than the feelings attached to them. Both identities are often left up to interpretation, and the definitions of these identities vary from person to person, so do not burden yourself with the task of trying to fit into a box. Sexuality is supposed to be confusing because there is nothing concrete about something so fluid. Perhaps on some days you feel more like a lesbian, and on other days you feel more bisexual. I too used to find it hard to place myself within any particular orientation; however I found a solution. I began to identify as queer. It allowed me the freedom to move through different queer identities without feeling guilty about the fact that I hadn’t found my “place” yet. It also allowed me to assign myself a label, which in all honesty is sometimes very satisfying despite the whole “I don’t subscribe to labels” thing becoming so popular. (Not subscribing to labels is also perfectly fine.)

I also think it is fairly normal to be uncomfortable with queer identities because we are constantly told that they are unnatural or wrong. All marginalized groups have internalized hateful messages in one form or another. It is a good thing that you are self-aware and involving yourself in activism. I think that the more you read and watch queer centered books, films, articles, etc, the more comfortable you will become with your identity. Heterosexuality is heavily normalized (duh HeteroNORMAtivity) so anything outside of that specific box may feel undesirable or foreign or unnerving. It might take some getting used to at first. I remember when I was first coming into myself, queer media (especially films or TV) was very confusing and unsettling, despite the fact that I had already begun accepting my queer identity. However, after a while it started to become intriguing and even exciting in the sense that I was able to see myself in the characters and story lines. Yet you must remember that this is a process and not an easy one. You have to unlearn all of the stigmas you were taught about queerness so that you can love yourself properly. It’s worth it. Don’t worry.

Also, try your best to form a safe circle of like-minded individuals. Cut-off anyone that makes you feel bad about yourself and your sexuality. If there is even the tiniest inkling that you have to conceal part of yourself around a person, then don’t allow them in your space.

In my opinion, becoming comfortable with who you are is one part knowledge and two parts positive energy. Loving yourself is a constant journey. There is no clear-cut answer. The best thing you can do is become familiar with people, art, and literature that don’t make you feel so alone.


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


, , , , , , , , , ,

“I tend to base my self worth off of recognition and awards, etc. It’s been alright so far, since I have always done relatively well, but I didn’t even place at the most recent writing competition I was involved in, and I’m feeling real crappy. This is probs not healthy. HOW DO I STAHP?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Gabifresh as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Gabi Says:

I can definitely relate to this! I’ve had issues with perfectionism and external validation in the past, and it can be a hard habit to break. You’re right though, it’s totally not healthy, so I have a few suggestions for getting past it.

1) Realize rejection/failure is a good thing

I know this is totally cliché, but that’s because it’s true. Failing at something you love is NOT a bad thing, even though it feels like it. This has taken me a really long time to accept, but not being the best at something not only teaches us humility, but also inspires us to improve. Every single person who has done something awesome has failed at some point, from to Michael Jordan being cut from the varsity basketball team to Steve Jobs being fired from the very company he built. How you respond to that failure is really what determines your success; are you going to let it get you down? Quit? Or find ways to bounce back and make yourself better?


2) Focus on the work and not the outcome

One thing I did in college was avoid classes I really wanted to take if I wasn’t 100% sure I would get an A. Crazy, right? It’s seriously one of my biggest life regrets. I was always really into creative writing, but I was afraid of not being the best in the class or that I’d get a grade that would lower my GPA, so I didn’t take it at all. I was totally missing out on life experiences and learning new things for a really silly reason! By focusing on having fun and improving your writing instead of what accolade or award you’ll receive from it, you’ll get back to actually enjoying the writing process. One way to get to this point is by taking a class or joining a club where there are no grades or awards involved. I was still passionate about creative writing after college, so I found a screenwriting class with no grading system. When there was no pressure to get the A, I was able to enjoy the class and focus on learning and giving/receiving constructive criticism.


3) Acknowledge that awards are subjective

I don’t expect you to stop submitting your work to writing competitions altogether! In fact, it’s often just a numbers game. The more things you submit to, the more chance you have at being published or winning one of the many awards out there. But at the end of the day, remember that award recipients are usually chosen by a subjective group of people who may not dig your stuff for whatever reason. That doesn’t mean your work isn’t good or valuable. I’m sure you know how many amazingly talented artists lived their ENTIRE lives without recognition. Imagine how many musicians there are out there right now who are awesome but never get signed to a record label or are never up for a Grammy. It doesn’t invalidate their talent, you know? Keep working hard, getting better, and have a solid group of creative friends to support (and critique!) your work. Good luck!