Living out loud

Sesi Spring 2016Keke Palmer surprised more than a few fans last year with her “I Don’t Belong To You” video. (If you haven’t seen it yet, she leaves her boyfriend for another girl.) The “Scream Queens” star took it one step further when she came out as sexually fluid soon after. Then, in December, Amandla Stenberg came out as bisexual via Snapchat. While Keeks and Amandla deserve major props for what they’ve done, it’s not always easy for Black girls to come out, and as a result, Black LGBT+ youth are at higher risk of being homeless, being harassed, and committing suicide. Find out how one girl, though, is defying the odds and living by her own rules.

Morgan Butler has struggled with her sexuality for years. It didn’t help that she was outed by a classmate in the seventh grade. “Being outed was definitely a weird experience,” says the 19-year-old college freshman from Springfield, Virginia. “I wasn’t necessarily mad, more like embarrassed, for both her and myself. I was embarrassed for her because she was so insecure she felt like she had to try and invalidate my own identity. And I was embarrassed for myself because I was lowkey ashamed of my sexuality.” Since then, Morgan has learned to love all parts of her identity — but discovering exactly what that meant for her took a little time.

“I’ve been queer since middle school, though I didn’t exactly know what to call it,” Morgan says. “After fluctuating between identifying as a lesbian, bisexual, and pansexual, I settled on queer because I feel like it’s more inclusive.”

Confused about what all of that even means? Let’s break it on down: So, LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. The “+”? That’s just an easy way to cover everyone else who’s not heterosexual, including pansexual, asexual, demi-gender, and queer, which is a term for people who feel that LGBT is too confining.

And while Morgan is all self-love all the time now, she does admit that there’ve been times when she’s felt depressed and hopeless because of her sexuality. Her squad reps hard for her, though, so she considers herself lucky because she knows that’s not the case for many others. “I had a community of people who were super accepting and supportive, so I was able to work through it,” she says. “It’s really sad knowing that our world is so judgmental that people feel like their identities aren’t valid. It really sucks.”

Read the rest of my feature for Sesi magazine’s spring 2016 issue [here]. Subscribe to Sesi magazine on www.sesimag.com/subscribe

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