When my editor, John Fleming, informed me that I would be writing a series about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) young people in metro Atlanta and the issues they often face, honestly I did not know what to expect.
At the least, I knew it would be interesting. Ultimately the very personal accounts shared by Brian, Amber and Connor were far more than that. I found their accounts to be engaging, enlightening and, quite frankly, educational. Interviewing these dynamic individuals really offered me some insight into the real challenges many people face just trying to express who they feel they are deep inside.
It also reminded me why I still love journalism to this day. I don’t take the privilege of asking all of the hard questions that most people want to ask but are too polite or shy to do so, lightly.
Being African-American is a huge part of how I identify myself in society (those who regularly mistake me for a Latina will laugh on cue at that fact). After hearing these stories, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if I had to conceal my ethnicity from my family, friends, loved ones and co-workers on a regular basis.
Similarly, my interview subjects have felt the need to do so in the past in regards to their sexual orientation and gender identity. That would be a heavy burden, to be sure. I definitely learned a lot of technical details, like the fact that a “trans man” refers to female-to-male transgender people and that “trans woman” refers to a male who transitions to female, how much pronouns matter to transgender people and that there’s a disproportionate number of homeless LGBT youth in this country.
However, one central theme rang true in all their experiences. Brian, Amber and Connor drove home for me the value in embracing who you are and living life on your own terms. I guess it boils down to taking responsibility for your life and, more importantly, your personal happiness. No matter where you stand on the LGBT issue, I think that’s a message we all can relate to.