By Riley Clowes (Vice-President Kent-elect)

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IDAHOBIT is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. The theme of this year's IDAHOBIT is 'families'. 

The great RuPaul once said " We as gay people, get to choose our families" and she truly was spot on. As an activist for the LGBTQ+ community I have seen many a family built where families were torn apart due to the intolerance of friends and relatives. Sadly it's something that happens more often than I would like to admit. I have friends who were totally disowned due to their sexuality or gender, and it's a shame because if these people learned to love and accept their loved ones, they would get to see how beautiful they are and what it truly means to watch someone flourish and grow - as in life this is what we all aim to do. I remember the day I came out - it was the 2nd of March 2012 and I was 16. I had no idea what my parents were going to do or say. It was a truly terrifying day and one that I spent many hours preparing for. I packed a bag and put it by the front door, having made arrangements for me to live with a friend until my family came around to it.

We sat on the sofa, my hands covered in sweat and shaking with visible nerves. Then I said it: "I'm gay."

Two things happened: first, a huge weight was lifted - I felt like I could breathe again. Second, my parents said "Okay." and went about their business...and that was it. No floods of tears, no angry shouting, nothing. I turned to leave and my mum asked me "Oh, darling? Are you definitely gay or are you bisexual? We're just wondering about grandchildren." After confirming my sexuality with them they went back to their coffees and I went about cancelling my living arrangements.

It's taken a while to get parents fully on board with it and to truly understand that just because you have a gay son, that doesn't mean it's okay to make gay jokes, but I applaud the effort they've made in getting to understand what it is to be queer and what it is to be an ally. So much to the point that when I started doing drag, my parents helped me shop for my first wig and took my measurements for dress sizes.

I guess the reason I'm telling you this is because it's proof that people can learn to understand you and your life. Family is as strong as we create it to be, and if we work hard to help them through their lack of education on queer people they can often grow with us and completely change their perspective of the LGBTQ+ community. I'm not saying we should have to actively strive to change people's opinions - but if they are willing to learn, why not?

I know coming out has helped to fix and mend a bond I never had with my family before I came out. However I'm so grateful for the family I have still to this day that were there for me through the struggles of coming to terms with being LGBTQ+, as I'm sure many of you reading this also are. And these people will always have a special place in our hearts, and that is what truly counts.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by liberation bloggers are not necessarily the views of UCASU. 

Posted in: Blog, LGBTQ+ on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 by