Australian LGBT+ activist captures the struggles of growing up queer in moving Tweet

Australian writer and LGBT+ activist Alexander Leon's Tweet encapsulated the struggles of growing up queer, spurring people to share their own experiences.

Australian LGBT+ activist Alexander Leon and a man in the campaign MeHimUs

Australian LGBT+ activist and Kaleidoscope Trust writer Alexander Leon has sparked widespread discussion around the pressures of growing up queer and the struggles of living one’s authentic self following his Twitter post.

There can be many emotions attached to growing up LGBT+, ranging from fear and anxiety to excitement and hope. There are young people who sadly feel unsafe as a result of their home life and/or the hostile political environment in their country.

Writing on Twitter, Leon stated, “Queer people don’t grow up as ourselves, we grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimise humiliation and prejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us and which parts we’ve created to protect us.”

Leon’s words have summarised an at times overlooked aspect of queer life, where a person must hide their queerness even from themselves. Whether due to a lack of education or awareness around LGBT+ identity, the process of a person figuring out where they fit can be an immensely stressful time. One Twitter user responded to his post with, “Most of us actually grieve for the childhood we’ve always wanted, but never experienced. This is why I’m here for the stories about queer or trans kids being supported.”

The Tweet contained a powerful and poignant statement which has resonated with many people in the queer community, as it has currently received 52.3K retweets and 192.1K likes. The Australian LGBT+ activist further wrote, “It’s massive and existential and difficult. But I’m convinced that being confronted with the need for profound self-discovery so explicitly (and often early in life!) is a gift in disguise. We come out the other end wiser and truer to ourselves. Some cis/het people never get there.”

In response to the overwhelming visibility of the post, Leon has been raising awareness for the Australian bushfires. Since September 2019, the number of people who have died as a result of the fires is higher than in recent years. He tweeted, “This has blown up unexpectedly and I’m very humbled. If this meant something to you and you are able I’d really appreciate any donations to help families affected by the Australian bushfires. I am Australian and seeing my country burn is heartbreaking.”

Behind the Twitter thread, there is a strong core message which has moved people to look back on their own experiences as well as stirring up an important conversation around mental health and acceptance. Leon ends his statement on a hopeful note, “Discovering who you really are is an enormous task it doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it happen without some hiccups along the way. Be patient, be compassionate, be vulnerable and exist loudly. And most of all – be proud!”

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