In this interview, I spoke to my amazing friend Tara! We discussed coming to terms with her sexuality, labels, and conversion therapy.
Question One: What’s your name, age, and favorite lgbtq+ artist?
I’m Tara, fourteen years old, and I definitely couldn’t pick favorites when it comes to music. A couple lgbtq+ artists that I admire include Troye Sivan, King Princess, Perfume Genius, Pabllo Vittar, and Kim Petras. Something interesting is that I’ve begun to notice an increase in lgbt+ representation on the radio, and discussed in music. We’re moving in the right direction!
Question Two: What’s your opinion on labels? Should people worry about finding the “right” label?
Labels shouldn’t be something that are forced upon the community. My idea is that labels are used for informational purposes and shouldn’t define a person. That being said, those who aren’t comfortable with certain labels shouldn’t take any sexuality and turn it into an umbrella term in order to identify themself. For instance, using the label “lesbian” when you aren’t attracted to just women isn’t okay. However, terms like “queer” and “gay” in some cases, are okay to use. No one should rush the process of ‘finding their label’. It shouldn’t stress you out. If you’re still questioning, take all the time you need to figure yourself out!
Question Three: Did you feel the need to label yourself? If so, why?
I don’t think I would say i ‘felt the need’ to label myself because I didn’t think my sexual orientation would be something brought up often. In my case, I felt more comfortable by labeling my sexuality because it made me feel secure. It also helped with the questions I’ve been asked after I came out as pansexual, since it’s a fairly new term. I don’t encourage pushing a label on yourself unless it’s necessary and you’re completely comfortable.
Question Four: Did you have a hard time coming to terms with your sexuailty? If so, what made you have a hard time?
Honestly, I’ve had a rough journey to reaching a conclusion on my sexuality. Although, I was very, and still am, young when I started questioning. By no means is there any time limit in coming to terms with your sexual orientation, just be sure you’re sure when you do, however! As discussed earlier, using inappropriate labels is something you should avoid. Anyhow, I personally started to question if I was bisexual towards the end of 7th grade. The thought that I could maybe be interested in anyone else besides boys really confused and scared me, and so I pushed the thought aside. I wouldn’t consider myself internally homophobic, since I was already supportive of the LGBTQ community. After watching numerous coming out videos, and realizing that it was a good thing that I was getting curious, I continued the process of figuring out who I was.. in the middle of eighth grade. I’m not sure how I managed to put aside my sexual orientation to the point where I hadn’t thought about it until then, but that doesn’t really bother me. I accepted the label ‘pansexual’ shortly after that and posted a coming out post from when I attended pride that year. I think what made me shy away from the label ‘bisexual’ was the baggage that it comes with. I felt more comfortable with a fresher term.
Question Five: Have you fully come to terms with your sexuality?
I'd say so, yes! If in the future I ever felt unsure, I wouldn’t lock that possibility away as I had did before. I have the resources I need.
Question Six: While you were questioning your sexuailty, what made life a bit easier? (i.e. music, movies, books)
During the process of questioning I know I was very well distracted with being a part of the Troye Sivan fandom, haha! Outlets like that on social media both made life a bit easier and made me comfortable with sharing my feelings and concerns with queer people like me. It’s always good idea to reach out in public and online (be careful, though!) to find the resources you need to accept and educate yourself. I wish the best of luck to those who may be going through that right now :)
Question Seven: How has Troye Sivan helped and educated you?
If there’s anything that people know about me at this point, it’s that I look up to Troye Sivan and hold kind of an obsession 😳. I like this question, because his music in particular sparked my interest and involvement with the lgbt+ community, even before I realized I was queer. I don’t recall if he changed my views on the community because I’ve never considered myself homophobic, just uneducated. I’m so glad that Troye has been such a big part of my life for this long, and that he has never failed to communicate his vision and views on lgbt rights. It’s so important. Additionally, Troye has worked with numerous organizations and has been a part of Boy Erased, a movie based on a memoir about conversion therapy. All of these involvements are crucial in educating parents of queer children, and taking steps to eradicate homophobia.
Warning: The next question talks about conversion therapy, if you're sensitive to this topic, please read at your own risk.
Question Eight: What’s your stance on conversion therapy in the United States? Could you explain the practice?
Conversion therapy is the ineffective, and harmful practice of ‘changing’ someone’s sexuality from queer to straight. It’s still legal for minors in several states and is something the media has not taken enough coverage on. It’s extremely important for parents to understand the dangers and issues with sending their children to conversion therapy. I’m not going to get into the specific issues, however novels like Boy Erased, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post delve into personal experiences with the horrible practice and the necessity to put an end to it.
Question Nine: Do you think there’s enough lgbtq+ representation in the media?
I definitely think that there’s always room for improvement! If we date back to early comedy movies and media, the common pit of a joke may be based around a queer person. This is because of the stereotypes and preconceived notions that people have had of the community. I’m very glad that this is changing, and blatant lgbt+ discrimination has taken a large halt in the media, however, more positive and accurate representation of our community is necessary. Queer kids need to see themselves in a successful light as much as everyone else does on television. I know I would’ve appreciated being exposed to queer culture and the queer experience when I was younger. This would’ve made my coming out experience easier for both me and my parents.
Question Ten: Branching off the last question, do we need more representation in the media?
Of course! There is never going to be a limit for positive representation of minorities in the media.
Question Eleven: What would you say to your younger self?
Oh god. I couldn’t pinpoint when I’d want to tell this to my past self, but just relax! I was so stressed out over figuring myself out and coming to conclusions. That isn’t a good mindset. I guess now that I think about it, I’d want to add that you DO make more friends, and that life gets extremely better because of them. I went through a pretty dark period from 7th grade to the beginning of 8th grade and reconnecting with old friends really pulled me out of that place.
Question Twelve: What do you want to say to your future self?
Haha! I have no idea. Perhaps just to work harder, and stop stressing out over little things. Stop procrastinating! This may sound cheesy, but if you’re happy, then who gives a damn what anyone else thinks?
Question Thirteen: What advice would you give to pals who are struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality?
This goes for anyone, regardless of whether you’re closeted, or going through any issue in silence. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people. People are who bring you down, but they also help shape your personal journey and make you stronger. People are who guide you to the right destinations and are always willing to lend a hand. Suffering in silence is never the best way to handle any situation. No situation is ever permanent, and there are people that love you for who you are. ❤️