As a new blog project idea I decided to allow LGBT individuals of all ages, background, races, religion and origin write their own blog post for my blog. I decided to do this as writing about my own story is getting extremely boring, and everybody’s story is different and unique so I want to highlight that. Here is Marie’s story:
Hi, my name is Marie. I’m 21 years old and I live in the little country made out of waffles and beer, Belgium. I am very proud of being Belgian. Not only because of the food, drinks and amazing towns we have here. No, we were the second country to allow gay marriage on Earth. Quite an accomplishment in my eyes. It became true in 2003. I was 7 years old when this historic date came in the news. Little did I know what significance it would have in my life.
As a smaller child, I had no idea what being gay or lesbian or even member or ally of the LGBT+ community meant. My parents never really educated me on that. I don’t blame them, it just never occurred to them as it does now. I never had experience with LGBT-members in my surroundings and I never thought things through when I was watching television. I’m quite naive. But I never saw it as weird or abnormal, I just didn’t know it existed. All of that changed when I met my best friend in my second to last year in high school in 2011. It’s such a cliche, I know. From the moment I met her, I knew things were changing within me. I was falling in love with a girl, help! I told one friend I was falling for her, and she encouraged me to accept myself, and to tell my best friend. And I did. I got rejected, but that was okay. I discovered a piece of myself that I would’ve never have found if it wasn’t for her. I accepted myself, but would other accept me?
I came out to my mother in April 2012, which didn’t have the response that I thought it would have. She wasn’t really happy with it, and low key told me to keep it hidden, “for later”. It hurt so much. It hurt so much that I was furious. And me, as a member of the most stubborn people on the planet, did what I wanted to do anyway. We had to give a presentation to our class, and I decided to do it about homosexuality, and end the show with me coming out to my class, my year, my school. I was so so done of hiding, even if it only was for five months. I came out, and nothing happened. Apparently people knew way before me that I was gay. No one made a big deal out of it. I was, am, still will be Marie. That was such a relief. My mom couldn’t stop me from being myself at school.
She could, however, in my family. I didn’t dare to tell my dad, so scared of his reaction. So I hid it from him. Days went by, and I went to a music festival, Rock Werchter. I saw Florence + The Machine, and I fell in love with the woman. The fan girl-life started right there, on that moment. I devoted myself to find out everything about her and that’s how I ended up on Twitter. And Twitter was the place that did so many things for me. I got to know new people from all over the world, also devoted to Florence. Gays, lesbians, straights. Everyone. And that’s how I educated myself about the LGBT-community. There, I could be more myself. And little did I know, it would mean the start of my friend- and relationship with my girlfriend. But that’s for way later.
Twitter made me an ever bigger fan girl. Not only was I big into music, series were also a well-discussed topic. And because of a girl I liked, I started watching Skins. And that’s how I got addicted to watching series. The more the merrier. Started watching Glee. And I remember the day in August 2013 before I finally came out to my day: the episode where Santana came out to her grandma. That’s the moment I knew I had to come out to my dad. The poor man thought I was going to say that I was pregnant, he was so relieved.
So, I was 17 when I was fully out of the closet for my family. I was still a bit afraid of being myself. It’s weird to not know anything about being gay, although it’s not very special or different from being straight of course. The following September, I started at the university. And it was a new chapter in my life. I was going to be Marie, the lesbian and no one was going to stop me. I had old friends from high school that were going to study the same thing as I was where I could rely on, the new friends just needed to accept me or get out. Luckily they did and I never had any bad experience with meeting new people.
All was going well for me. Being gay at least, studying was very hard. But then, I met a girl in 2015, and she completely changed my world. While I was, or am, very optimistic about the world, she was the complete opposite. She claims the world is doomed, hates everybody on it and hopes only she survives. She thought me the hard reality of the world. That it isn’t always the ideal world that I had in mind. I fell in love with her and although nothing happened between us, I took over a lot of her wisdom’s. The world isn’t as good as I thought. The world is cruel and ridiculous and doesn’t make sense whatsoever. I was more realistic now, although a small piece of my optimism stayed.
As I said, Twitter played a big role in my life. I was, and still am, very active on Twitter. I talked to some people more regularly. Either it was from my direct environment of Belgians, or fan girls of Florence that I met when I was 16. One of those people is my current girlfriend. We’ve been following each other since 2013, and been actively talking since 2014. She lives in Germany. We were good friends, speaking to each other with periods of non-talking to non-stop-talking. Due circumstances, in November 2015 we started talking daily again. More and more each day. And we came with the crazy idea of meeting each other in real life. Me being 20 at the time and having my own car was a big advantage. Living in a small country like Belgium has the advantage that borders are very close everywhere and that you’re in another country within two hours max. We would meet each other on the 4th of February 2016. And we did. And it was magical. I had never seen anyone like her. I had to go home on the 6th, but we met again on the 20th. That was also the day I asked her and she said yes to be my girlfriend.
Being in Germany, I felt the homophobic atmosphere for the first time. It was different than in Belgium. I could actually feel people staring, throwing comments at us, catcalling. Something my girlfriend has to deal with on a daily basis. That’s very frustrating for me, since I can’t do anything about it. I used to say “it’s okay, you’ll be in Antwerp soon, it doesn’t happen there, we’ll be fine”. Antwerp is such a gay-capital. We even have our own Gay Pride in August instead of May-June like the rest of the world. I am very proud of it. Unfortunately, my town disappointed me in September.
On a sunny day, we decided to go to the big city to have a good time between the two of us with some wine and burgers. We didn’t know the food came with seven homophobic incidents. It went from staring to us to chasing us to surrounding us. Nothing physical happened, but it was really scary. And no one did anything to stop those guys. Gone was the safe place that I thought I could provide for my girlfriend. And as I said in the beginning, Belgium is very progressive about gay rights and marriage. So it came to a complete shock to me too. I was so angry. We are so used to the idea of people accepting other people that we actually became blind to what still was happening. Including me. Not anymore. I decided to share our story, because this isn’t normal. I just wanted to share it on a small scale. I posted it on a blog of a friend of mine because she had a bigger reach than I did, but still I wanted it to be small. It blew up out of proportion.
I posted my story on a Tuesday at 9pm. This is the link (it’s in Dutch): Dear You. On Wednesday at 3pm, I got contacted by one radio station. I could do my story in one minute at 11am on Thursday. I was ecstatic of course. Half an hour passed after that and I was already contacted by two national newspapers. I left for Germany to be with my girlfriend, and there three more had contacted me. I had two Skype-interviews with two national television channels and another radio-interview. My story was posted all over Facebook. The mayor of Antwerp even replied to me. I had never been so proud of being gay. And of being the girlfriend of my girlfriend, because I want to give her the world, preferably the world without homophobes, one where she could feel safe in.
People spoke to me at parties about how they saw my post, how angry they were too. Other people came to me to tell me how glad they were that I posted this because being gay them-self, they had a hard time too. Along with my girlfriend, they give me the courage, the anger and the motivation to keep fighting for gay rights in any way. From the smallest to the biggest thing I can do with my little self.
The high school that I went to not only allowed me to be myself for the first time. They also gave me the opportunity to give a speech in front of the senior year about what happened and to motivate people to accept people for who they are and to help minorities or friends in need. That was a great experience.
My girlfriend means the world to me. I love her to bits. Ever since I met her, my grades went up, I found a job and I have someone I want to be good and better for. She is my motivation for everything that I do. And despite the long distance, we are doing good. I love her, she loves me. And I am so certain that I want to start a life with her. And I can’t even imagine a life where I wasn’t gay. Because being gay made me into the person I am now, and although there is always room for improvement, I’m quite proud of the person I have become. It’s okay to be a part of the LGBT-community or being gay, and in the end, everything will be okay.
Just know, wherever you are, I love you for who you are.
With love, Marie from Belgium.
If you would like to take part in LGBT+ Me email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.