Outside ~ Finding a place to belong as an Adopted LGBTQ+ Individual
“Early on, you face
The realization you don’t
Have a space
Where you fit in
You were born to exist”
~ Outside by Mariah Carey
It was 9th grade and I had just finished my chemistry homework. I was quietly listening to Mariah Carey on my iPod and humming along when a fellow classmate made a weird comment, “I don’t know why you love Mariah Carey so much, you must be gay.”
This was the second time in my life that I was outed without my consent, in a way that totally didn’t make sense to me.
The first time I was in 7th grade and it was Mariah Carey’s birthday. I made an iron-on collage on an old t-shirt with all my favorite albums and pictures of hers. A girl promptly outed me in health class in front of everyone. “Ew, everyone look at Ashante, she’s so gay for her shirt. Just admit it you’re a lesbian.”
The moral of this story isn’t to tell you how much I have loved Mariah Carey since I was 4 years old as 1) that would not fit into this short blog post and 2) this is a mental health blog but it is to tell you what happened next.
In 7th grade, there was sheer embarrassment, shame, and feelings that once again I don’t belong. In 9th grade, it was as if the universe knew I needed support and my teacher came in to help me.
Being seen and heard as an awkward teenager can feel like a weird experience. On the one hand, being an angsty teenager makes you feel like you have to have this tough exterior in order to survive the world; On the other hand, you just want someone, anyone to just get you (truly get you).
Without looking up from grading papers my science teacher said,
“We all have things that we love in this world (Brittany), just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you can call the other person names or make them feel less than.
Mariah has a beautiful way of writing lyrics that change people, maybe you should listen to her and find out yourself…maybe you’ll learn something.”
I left class that day feeling seen.
When you grow up as an adopted child and (surprise) a queer kid, fitting into the world can feel like you are always existing “outside” the folx that are around you. You often feel out of place with this constant feeling of searching for any resemblance of belonging.
Being seen by my teacher that day did two things for me:
*(1) It allowed me to have a reparative relationship with being outed. It’s never fun for someone to prescribe your sexuality on to you before you even know what your sexual orientation is, but it was a relief that my teacher didn’t make it about her homophobic comment but more about teaching her students how to be kind and open.
*(2) It showed me that I wasn’t weird. That for a moment in that classroom, I belonged and it was okay to occupy space as my authentic self.
When you are searching for a therapist please make sure that they make you feel seen and heard. You are allowed to take up space within a therapeutic room and your therapist should never make you feel like you don’t belong.
As a clinician with many lived experiences, I often empathize with folx who feel like they are on the outside. Who feel like “maybe it isn’t okay that I take up space because then I feel like a burden and I don’t deserve to be here.”
You aren’t a burden.
You aren’t an outsider in my room.
You belong and you deserve to feel seen and heard.
Ashante Taylorcox is a Queer, Licensed Associate Counselor at Center for Counseling and Education who specializes in serving folx within the LGBTQ+ community and Survivors of childhood and sexual trauma. Ashante employs many approaches in her work and offers EMDR specific therapy and expressive art therapies to engage her clients.
Ashante is currently accepting tele-therapy clients on Sundays – Wednesdays! If you would like to book an appointment please contact us.