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Learning About Myself and Coming Into My Own

Headshot of Lily in professional dress in front of RespectAbility banner


Growing up, I never knew that being gay was an option. Sure, I would see the occasional couple in public, or overhear something on the radio, but I knew who I was. I was a girl, and girls liked boys. I was naturally drawn to women. All my idols were high achieving girls, and I had intensely personal friendships with girls my age. Looking back, this early conflict between my concept of what I should be, and the person I was rapidly becoming was surely a major aspect of the mental health struggles I would come to face as I grew older.

I always had been sensitive to sensory input, but as I approached puberty, middle school, and the inevitability of my conflict with the future I expected and my actual identity, sensory overload became a daily reality. With the help of earplugs, fidget toys and therapy, I gradually relearned how to interact with the world and conquer the toxic combination of anxiety and depression that held me back.

Today, I am so lucky to have the great support system that I do. My parents are so incredibly supportive of my identity as a lesbian, and many of my friends share a similar overlaps between LGBT+ identity and disability. I am not surprised at all, since 36 percent of LGB women and 30 percent of Gay and Bi men identify as disabled. Every other minority group intersects with disability; there are people with disabilities of all colors, shapes, sizes, nationalities, religions, sexualities and genders. Disability is an everyday experience of people everywhere, as is the LGBT+ experience. I am proud that I experience both.

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RespectAbility Staff

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