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Being Non-Binary and How Online Spaces Are Essential For Rural LGBTQ+ Youth

For many people, the idea of rural living seems idyllic; pleasant views, simplicity and a small-knit community. However the reality for most is that growing up in a rural farming area, you may find that the ideals and people are very traditional, and for the most part, incredibly bigoted. When I realised that I felt more comfortable being 'they' more than 'she', I was horribly bullied by people in my class, people who I'd known and grown up with for most of my life- ostracised because I had become an 'other'. I ended up feeling lost, like I didn't belong, and that there was no space for me among my peers or even my family. When there is no one who looks like you in school, or in any public space around you, its easy to feel alienated, and suppress who you are to fit in- and for a long time that is what I did, to just 'be normal'.

Fleeing to greener pastures

The problem with rural living, as most young people will say, is that it’s very old fashioned- there’s not much room for new ideas to grow, and many will defend their opinions by saying that it has always been this way, so there is no need to change. This has resulted in many young people moving away from rural areas to bigger cities, because there is freedom there to be who you are, and you can find spaces with other LGBT people much more easily. Pride events are more likely to be held in bigger cities , and you can truly feel at peace and be yourself, authentically, without worry.

Living in such an area where you can't sneeze in peace and everyone knows a story about everyone is suffocating, and this is especially true for LGBT youth. Many young people go to university as a way to escape their small town and never look back, myself included, but I would never have been inspired to do so and live my authentic life without the blessing of online spaces and LGBT people to look up to and inspire me.

Online oasis: lights in the dark

Finding an online community and seeing Influencers and other wonderful humans who felt like me was a breath of fresh air, and gave me hope. Even though the internet is a whole other minefield and people have many strong opinions on it, it's hard to deny that online spaces are necessary for those who are not wanting to or unable to move away. Having online spaces where LGBT people talk openly about their experiences and can share resources and information is crucial when a young person is learning about who they are, and learning about what others have achieved can inspire you to do more and feel like you can reach out and be proud of who you are. Everyone's experiences are different and wonderful and when you can't find people in person who will celebrate with you, you can be sure there will be safe spaces online to do so.


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