I am Victoria Perez, and I am queer women of color. Ten years ago, I was forced to come out. At 23 years old, I am still searching for the safe place I lost at the age of 13. I was forced to explain myself to the adults in my life about why I had been so close with another girl.
When I was forced to come out everything that I had (and had just started building for my identity and safety) was taken away from me, and exposed to the world. It felt as if I had experienced loss; knowing that I wasn’t able to decide to come out when I felt ready and most importantly, safe.
My adolescence made me wonder “Why am I being treated poorly? Why do I feel stripped away of my identity?” I felt frustrated and confused. Were these feelings and thoughts I had abnormal? I had seen so many students at my middle school getting away with simple acts that any young teen would do when they had a crush. Holding hands. Sending notes. Talking about their crushes endlessly. Hugging. Maybe even that first kiss. I tried to understand what I did that was wrong.
When I look back at that moment, I regress back to that adolescence and the fear that I was faced with; knowing that my safety was on the line from my environment. I also shudder at the toll it took on my mental health.
It wasn’t until I realized that the circle of adults who surrounded me at that table created an environment where I felt scared, where I felt nervous to be myself, and where I felt like a target both emotionally and physically. It was because of my sexuality. Their perception of me was redefined; and my perception of who and what was once my safe place was redefined as well. The feeling of uncertainty has lingered with me throughout the ten years. I wonder if anyone in the LGBTQ+ community will truly achieve that safe place.
As a queer person who had my safe place removed in the beginning of understanding my sexuality, I strive to merge my platform and communities to vocalize these issues. The LGBTQ+ communities’ need and fight for a safe place continues to evolve gradually.
The topic of a safe place in the LGBTQ+ community has only recently become visible because of more generational acceptance in the community. This does not negate the fact that LGBTQ+ individuals are at risk everyday solely because of their identity. The LGBTQ+ community still needs to create a stronger safe place. This is done by listening, educating ourselves, and valuing the information that LGBTQ+ peers in Colorado spread.
Below are resources for LGBTQ+ peers in Colorado. In light of recent events it is necessary to take care of yourself as tragedies such as the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs create a ripple effect. Safety matters, and these resources may provide what you need to create a space that values that safety. These sources range from centers where you may seek community and support whether it is mentally or physically.
The Center on Colfax – https://lgbtqcolorado.org/resources/
One Colorado – https://one-colorado.org/lgbtq-resources/
The Trevor Project – https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/
LGBTQIA Resource Center: Support Lines – https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/support/hotlines
Inside Out Youth Services – https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/coping-in-the-aftermath-of-a-shooting
Coping in the Aftermath of A Shooting – https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/coping-in-the-aftermath-of-a-shooting
QTBIPOC Mental Health and Well-Being – https://www.hrc.org/resources/qtbipoc-mental-health-and-well-being
I came out to the publisher of Bucket List Community Café. When I was ready. I found a safe-place over at Bucket List Community Café and I came out on my terms.