Tomorrow is the day I’ll be myself. I would tell myself that every evening as I came home from school and took off my backpack.
It always felt so heavy.
That burdensome feeling, that sense of shame that I wasn’t being brave enough. I carried it everywhere, and it made me so closed off that I couldn’t form any close, meaningful friendships.
There was always that part of myself that I was terrified to share.
Looking back, there were many opportunities to empower people like me. An honest and inclusive sex and relationships education class or an assembly from an LGBT role model could have changed my life.
But instead there was silence, and I felt alone until I joined an organisation that gave me the confidence to stand up and be counted.
We must stand by each other’s sides in this fight that is far from over.
As a 23-year-old, I sometimes hear it suggested by people around me that the fight for LGBT equality has been won.
Yet so many of us still feel we can’t be ourselves, or vividly remember once feeling this way, remembering how we had to hide who we really are.
While it is true that we have come so far, and so much has been achieved through the will, grit and bravery of LGBT people, we know that these rights must be protected and defended not just now, but for all future generations.
There is so much more to be done to empower LGBT individuals to be themselves, and to feel safe in doing so.
For example, 95% of young people don’t receive LGBT-inclusive sex ed classes and homophobic hate crimes are on the rise. In these uncertain times, we need to reach further into communities everywhere in our fight to transform institutions and change laws, both in the UK and across the world.
Today I can be myself, and every step I take feels so much lighter. But I’ll never forget the exhausting guilt and fear that came with living a lie and I never want to go back.
We must stand by each other’s sides in this fight that is far from over. No one should have to live their lives being ashamed of who they are, rejected for who they are, or erased of who they are.
When I look to tomorrow and the years ahead, that’s the legacy I want to leave behind. What will your legacy be?
Find out more about out how you can help shape Stonewall's future here.