#VisibleMe Matt, 17, New Jersey
I’m honored to introduce you to Matt, 17, New Jersey: “I’m from a traditional, suburban, homogenous town. There are few openly gay people in my community and not a lot of diversity in general.
I created the #VisibleMe photo series to make the invisible visible and to share important stories from LGBTQ youth. I’m honored to introduce you to Matt, 17, New Jersey: "I’m from a traditional, suburban, homogenous town. There are few openly gay people in my community and not a lot of diversity in general. When I first came out at 15, I was immediately met with what I now recognize as subtle homophobia. “Oh, I’m fine with you being gay, just don’t change how you act. Don’t be outward or showy about it,” people would say. “Don’t dye your hair.” “Don’t go to the LGBT Pride parades.” “Don’t be like them.” At first, I was just so relieved to be out and to have “acceptance” that I resolved to not change and reassured people that I wouldn’t fulfill any "gay stereotypes.” I allowed people to shape how I acted and who I was. But as I become more confident with myself, something changed. I realized that I was being condemned from expressing my authentic self. I became aware of people who "accepted" LGBTQ people on the surface, but did not want us to be heard. I came to realize that this was internalized homophobia. After being told that “gay pride was unnecessary,” I attended my first Pride Parade in NYC days after the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality. It was one of the best days of my life. Pride was overwhelming in the best way. I was so moved to be around people who were part of my community and expressing themselves with such pride, joy, and fearlessness. I felt inspired knowing that so many of these people had overcome hardships -- fear of coming out, fear of being themselves -- and arrived at this beautiful moment. It was there, at Pride, that I truly felt like I could finally celebrate myself. I wish I had known that I didn't need to compromise myself to make others feel comfortable. Everyone should feel free to express themselves however they want. Brown hair or rainbow hair, sneakers or heels, sweatpants or dresses -- if people have an issue with the way you carry yourself, they aren't worth your time. Being yourself is not a privilege, it’s a right." Raymond Braun（@raymondbraun）发的照片 · 2016-02-26，15:32 PST