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Monday, June 5, 2017

Pride Month Challenge - Day 5

Note:  This post has some detailed references to self-harm and suicide.

This post is part of a series originally called "30 Day LGBT Challenge" which asks queer-related questions to be answered during Pride Month.  The original questions can be found here.

Day 5: Thoughts regarding inner turmoil about your sexuality; Did you have any? Did it escalate to self-injury or suicidal thoughts?

There has only been one time in my life I've ever seriously considered suicide, and it had nothing to do with my queerness at all, it was due to acute financial distress.  The suicidal thoughts ceased within about five minutes and I had the foresight to call a friend instead of doing it.

I am a self-harmer; I have dermatillomania, meaning I am prone to picking and gouging at my skin until it bleeds.  This is as far as I can tell a hypersensitivity issue... any little skin itch or imperfection and I obsess over it until it's gone, and it's definitely related to stress.  One time I started bleeding down my face during an uncomfortable support group meeting and had to explain to everyone that it was because the discussion stressed me out a lot.  Super embarrassing.  In the past year or so I seem to have naturally switched from skin gouging to nail biting--not hard enough to break the nail even--which I consider a minor win.

Notably, none of this was due to inner turmoil regarding my sexual orientation or gender identity.

I had an advantage here... first of all, my parents were never particularly bigoted.  I remember my dad saying like one thing about how if one of my brothers came out as gay he'd be super uncomfortable but learn to live with it anyway, and that's pretty much as far as any bigotry went in my household.  When bringing up sex reassignment in a typically childlike way, my parents explained it pretty straightforwardly without malice, even if they got a lot about it wrong, and I can't remember even once hearing them say being gay, lesbian, bi, or trans was a bad thing.

Insensitive jokes?  Sure.  And that's bad.  But in serious conversation it was never a problem.

Furthermore, I converted to Paganism at 12 years old, meaning when I was exploring my sexuality and gender identity I had already pretty well kicked any Christian guilt that would have existed had I any interest in churchy things when I was still doing them.

Because of this, I can't remember any time in my life when I've ever felt ashamed of being queer or trans... it's always been very normal to me.  I've sometimes remained closeted for my own protection, but I haven't felt ashamed of it, like I was going to hell or doing something deviant and disgusting.  It's just not a thing I've ever felt.