By Brittany Jane H
Before I was 6 years old, I knew that I was attracted to women. At age 12, I came into care and started to really understand my sexuality. Between 12 and 17, I hadn’t come out to a single foster family; I think part of it was a disconnect, and part of it was also not being sure of whether or not I could trust the families, who were tasked with taking care of me, with this information.
This changed when I moved with my last foster family, granted not immediately. I have always been a strong believer that when you are ready to tell people (which you shouldn’t have to do at all) there’s a specific feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach; where you feel like if you keep it to yourself you’ll explode.
My final foster family was Christian, and I went to a catholic school, being exposed to Christianity was nothing new, the majority of my family were Christian. I myself was not—I have always appreciated and respected that there are people who believe in a higher power, regardless of what it may be. But I also heard horror stories from my friends, from acquaintances, from other people around the world who had biological parents disown them, so you can only imagine the fear and shame that comes with having to come out—let alone to people you aren’t comfortable with or even really know.
Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community while being in care is hard. You’re damaged goods in the eyes of a partner and their family, you’re really limited in the resources you can access depending on where you live, and the majority of the LGBTQ+ people you meet, are also in or from care. Living in rural Ontario, I found it very difficult to explore my sexuality, and really delve into relationships like most teenagers. You’re already at a romantic disadvantage considering the low ratio of LGBTQ+ folks to heterosexual folks. I was incredibly lucky to have foster parents who loved me for me, regardless of their religious beliefs (or perhaps due to it), who didn’t care who I chose to be with as long as they respected and loved me too; Which I think is a very important lesson no matter what the sexuality or gender of your child. Being in care set me up with an understanding of abnormal family life, which many of my friends and partners have experienced in the LGBTQ+ community. It has prepared me for the difficulties with family, with a fear of commitment, with abandonment issues. Being in care is the best and the worst possible thing that could happen to someone in the LGBTQ+ community.
I’m nearly 22 now, and plan on proposing to my girlfriend in the very near future, which makes every second of the ordeal of being an LGBTQ+ youth in the care system very worth it.