Upside Down, Inside Out 

By Anjali Nayak

For the first 12 years of my life, my world was turned upside down, inside out. Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of rainbow flags. I didn’t hear songs about girls by girls, or stories about guys by guys. I blended into the background and assumed my place as an outsider. There is a certain type of isolationism and hopelessness that comes with the gradual realization that the world is not built for people like me. 

It’s the small things. The slight hesitation when prompted with a question about my sexuality. Presumptions that I’m a girl into guys. A sinking feeling in my stomach after overhearing a sharp tease at the gay community. The same statements run through my mind. Keep my head down. Shake it off. Don’t start something that doesn’t need to happen. 

Over the past year, I have realized the importance of speaking up and speaking out. Thanks to my fellow queer friends and family, I have been given the space to blossom into a rightfully proud queer woman. I owe it to my community to uplift the people around me, to inspire others the same way my loved ones have for so long. There is a certain obligation that accompanies coming out. I must also fight for gay rights, help my gay peers, and continuously enable pride among the gay community. 

With every reassuring comment and hushed conversation, I can make sure that the world is right side up for someone else. There is power in relatability. By simply writing and talking about my own shortcomings and anxieties as a queer woman, the world becomes a little less lonely. My silence only inhibits progress. I must speak loud; be a voice worth listening to. 

The LGBTQ+ community has struggled for far too long to just ‘let things go’ and ‘shake it off; I have worked far too hard coming to terms with my own identity to just ‘let things go’ or ‘shake things off.’ 

No voice is too quiet; no problem, too small.