I talked to people from the LGBTQIA+ community - Testimonials

June 30, 2023

text: Antonia Ianc and Cezar Popescu

illustration: Cristina Rădoaica

It's the end of June, which means the end of Pride Month, but I think that even though we're at the end, we shouldn't leave this month behind. The fight for equal rights never stops, which is why today we decided to bring forward the impressions and thoughts of some people from the LGBTQIA+ community, who told us a little of what they live every day. 

(The LGBTQIA+ community is, unfortunately, still poorly seen in Romania, which is why the names of the people I talked to will remain anonymous. Also, the questions are addressed to different people)

    1. When did you make your first come out?

  • End of 7th grade, my mother.
  • I did my first coming out to friends in April 2019, thinking I was asexual because I didn't feel attracted to anyone.
  • I had my first coming out in the context of my group of friends and I can say that it was one of the most important moments in my life, I felt like I finally got over any kind of fear and was able to be proud of my sexuality.

      2. What does coming out mean to you?

  • It means trusting everyone around me and feeling safe and unbiased enough to be open about being bi. I don't think I owe anyone an explanation, but I wish someday I could have a conversation with someone random and when the time comes to say I'm queer, to do it without second thoughts.
  • To feel safe enough with someone to open up about my sexuality.
  • Like many others, I feel that the idea of officially announcing your sexual orientation or gender identity puts unnecessary pressure on people and reinforces the notion that straight is the standard, the normal. For me, coming out meant telling my friends about my feelings for a girl for the first time, just like I would have told them about any other crush.
  • Freedom, assumption, autonomy, but also community (connection).
  • Liberation, motivation.

    3. What was the moment you realized you were part of the community?

  • The moment I realized I was part of it was interesting, I can't name exactly one event, there were several, but the moment I felt butterflies in my stomach for a girl, my ticket fell.
  • I don't think it was necessarily a specific moment, I knew that since I was little, but I didn't think there was a label for it or that it was natural and allowed, but as time went on I realized that I was running for nothing and it was time to face it forward to a discussion with my sexuality. 

     4. What reaction did those around have?

  • My parents were shocked and reacted badly, and those around me were indifferent.
  • They were cool with it, I only told close people. I was glad they didn't respond negatively.
  • Others had mixed reactions, the close friends I told were very supportive, but my parents were difficult. At first they laughed at the idea, after a while they told me it was just a phase, and when they realized it wasn't a phase they were very disappointed. However, over time they became much more supportive and are now allies.
  • The reaction of those around whom I trusted to tell was very supportive, but people who found out without me wanting to started mocking me and at one point harassing me and my girlfriend at the time. 
  • My mother didn't take it well at all, I was going to end up on the streets, she told me she would get a heart attack if I didn't change.
  • It obviously differs from person to person, at least I still choose very carefully to whom I mention this or not, but the reaction of the people around me was to my pleasant surprise one of support and acceptance, but there are also small exceptions where it was felt maximum criticism.

    5. How did their reaction affect you?

  • It affected me more than I thought. I was just a kid who needed support.
  • It didn't affect me too much, I was glad to feel supported.
  • I personally knew it wasn't going to be a phase, but the time they were disappointed was one of the hardest times for me. I felt like I was a broken person and that there was something wrong with me, I would have given anything to be "normal".

    6. What advice would you give to people who have not come out?

  • Take your time and do it in a space where you feel 100% safe, otherwise better not.
  • Only do it if you are at least 80% sure it will turn out well.
  • For anyone who hasn't come out I recommend making sure they are in a safe environment if they want to come out because their safety comes first. You also don't need a "coming out party" to belong to the community.
  • The best advice I could give would be to make sure they are in a supportive friend group or join one (there are many LGBT groups on Facebook).
  • The right time will never come, do it when you feel it comes naturally and don't think about the repercussions, they will happen anyway. The reactions of those around you are not predictable, therefore you have to assume a negative reaction as well.
  • To do what they feel, to have their come out when they consider, there's no pressure. Just be yourself.
  • One piece of advice I would give to people who haven't come out yet is to wait for the right moment, to be confident and proud of their sexuality or gender because it's nothing to be ashamed of, we have every right to be happy and take care who they say because even today we are not completely safe when it comes to this subject.

   7. What advice would you give to allies/parents with children who are part of the community?

  • Accept your people, at least tolerate them. Try to accept your children and don't push them away, it hurts us immensely.
  • For anyone who knows people in the community, your support is greatly appreciated, we are all human and want to be treated as such.
  • Acceptance comes in different ways, you have to learn to accept both yourself and those around you, it doesn't matter how hard it is for you, if you love your child or friend you will try to accept even if it doesn't suit you. Love is blind, it's important not to be blind like it.

   8. What is the biggest obstacle you encounter as a queer person in Romania?

  • Stigma and prejudice created by church and religion.
  • Difficulty expressing oneself in public for fear of discrimination and violence.      
  • Inability to be affectionate with people of the same sex, although as a female it is more tolerated.
  • Stigmatization of the community.
  • Casual/socially accepted homophobia as a joke.
  • Right now, the fact that I feel like I have to hide it from my parents. I'm the kind of parent who expects me to get married and have kids because they want grandkids and that's "normal". I feel like they wouldn't take me seriously or would be outraged if I told them, so the thought of being in a queer relationship scares me in that regard. 
  • People's reluctance to listen to other opinions, to be open to new situations and experiences. An obstinacy over the traditional, over the "normal" which is actually not normal.
  • Refusal from every bank for mortgage loan with my partner for an apartment together.

   9. Describe the journey of self-discovery

  • Quite a long time since I had a hard time accepting the idea of being anything but straight.
  • I realized I was queer very early and I was lucky enough to have a group of friends who were also queer and parents who weren't homophobic, so I didn't really have a period where I was closeted or had an internal conflict with my sexuality .
  • I was incredibly lucky to be part of a group of wonderful people who realized their sexual orientation before I did. Being in such a beautiful group, it was only a matter of time before I also realized that I was part of the community.
  • Incomplete, I'm still not entirely comfortable with my sexuality and I still have a lot to experiment with. 
  • In short, I never ruled out the possibility of liking girls too, but it wasn't until high school that I "woke up", first thinking it was just physical attraction, and then having romantic feelings for someone. Along the way I had my doubts and worries, thinking that maybe I was just confused and wouldn't be taken seriously because it took me so long to figure it out, during which time all my friends knew I was straight .
  • Interesting. I realized I was queer late (at 19), but since then I feel free. I felt like something was missing from the heterosexual relationships I had, the level of connection that I could only have with a woman was missing. It also made me feel complete, more confident in discovering myself as an individual. Embracing my sexual and gender identity gave me a comfort I longed for.

    10. What people inspire you?

  • Patti Smith, Stevie Nicks.
  • All queer people from countries like Romania who have persevered through work despite the difficulties imposed by society.
  • The people around me who are not afraid to assert themselves as they please, being unconditioned by social pressures. (expression through gestures, appearance, etc.). 
  • RuPaul!!
  • Especially people who come from backgrounds more hostile to the community, but who don't hide and are themselves.
  • Personally, those in the field of psychology (being the branch I study), especially the.holistic.psychologist who is an extraordinary queer psychologist and writer. I find incredible joy in drag culture, so the drag scene and voguing filled a part of me that had been empty for a long time. It inspires me to be me, with all the over-the-top and over-the-top creativity that it offers to the audience. Queer actors and activists also give you hope for a better future for us.

   11. Would you like to tell us something else?

  1. I would like to be able to live comfortably in the country, but unfortunately I am not very optimistic about the improvement of rights for queer people. However, I still have a little hope 🙂
  2. I am so glad that people of my generation are so involved in making a change. 
  3. I urge young people to have the courage to be themselves!

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