"Use your voice and be the role model you wish you had": You set a powerful example when you #BeYourself
The ability to be unique and be free to be yourself are often very important traits for a lot of us. We are all individuals but we often have shared experiences, as part of the #BeYourself campaign we hope to show the importance of embracing what is unique about ourselves but also that we might share common threads of consciousness in our experiences. Being yourself and being unique does not mean that you have to be alone, there is a community of love and support out there.
Our the campaign introduces various powerful voices (like Konrad below), these amazing advocates share their thoughts, experience and words of wisdom and demonstrate that there is a strong community of support out there. Hopefully anyone reading these stories will be inspired to be themselves and encourage others to be their unique selves.
My name is Konrad. I recently turned 28. I have 7 brothers and a baby sister. Growing up in a large family of boys, people assumed I would have had a hard time 'coming out'. But I was fortune enough to never have had to 'come out'. I never had to sit down with any of my family and have the coming out talk. I have a family that always accepted me as I am. I'm just Konrad. The one that likes arts and crafts, uses a lot of hair product and loves Britney Spears. That just happens to be more interested in other guys. But I was very lucky to have such a great family and such amazing friends. Others aren't so lucky. I have friends that aren't as lucky. And this is what has pushed me to volunteer with different LGBT organizations and to use the Mr Gay Ireland platform I was given to help others.
Think of something that you are insecure about. That you try to hide from people. That you don't want to be mocked about.
Think of having to hide that from your friends, family, classmates, and work mates everyday. Imagine waking up and the first thing you think about is how to hide it. Worrying someone will catch on at any second. The fear that they'll notice it. That they'd be disgusted, mock you, reject you or even not want to be near you.
Imagine it's something you can't change about yourself.
That is how it feels to be LGBT for a lot of people. They spend every waking minute trying to hide who they are. To keep their secret, out of fear of the consequences. Does my voice sound gay? Are my facial expressions coming across gay? Does my walk look gay? Do I use my hands too much when I speak? These are some of the many questions some LGBT people ask themselves everyday. Things they worry about at every second. Things they try to change or disguise out of fear
This is the fear that leads to higher reports of mental health issues, drink and drug abuse and unfortunately for a lot of LGBT people this leads to self harm or suicide.
This is the fear that pushes young men and women to take risks on dating apps, cruising sites and the likes, to meet people like them that won't reveal their secret.
We've come a long way in Ireland when it comes to LGBT rights. We now have Marriage Equality and Gender Recognition Acts. We've become one of the most accepting countries in the world when it comes to the LGBT Community.
However, for a lot of people this problem still exists. This is why it's important to support LGBT organizations, pride events, venues and groups. This is why it's important for people that are 'out' to use their voices. This is why I myself feel a responsibility to be myself. To use whatever platform I can to show others 'this is me, I have goals and dreams just like everyone else, I have insecurities just like everyone else, but I'm proud that I'm uniquely me and you should be proud that you are the only you'.
By simply being yourself and standing up for what you believe in, you make it a bit easier for those living with this fear, to know they're not alone, to step out of the shadows and to live a happier life being who they truly are. This is why the Be Yourself campaign is so important. Use your voice and be the role model you wish you had.