Being a teenager is one confusing, never ending mind screw. When you are LGBTQI+ you can multiply that by a thousand as you wrestle with the usual adolescence power plays, feeling isolated and figuring out your own identity.
Looking back on their own teen years, queers from around the London scene take the chance to offer words of wisdom to their younger selves.
“People around you might not feel like you do about both boys and girls, but accept that as your identity and be proud of your community. Surround yourself with people that will always support you no matter what and remember that even though things are sometimes hard, the fact that you ask for help makes you strong, not weak.”
“Believe in yourself. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you you can’t do anything. Follow your heart and your dreams, it will pay off! It may not make you wealthy, but it will make you happy. And happiness is key to mental stability. I’d like to tell you people won’t let you down. But that would be a lie. What I will say is put yourself first but keep being nice to people. As much as it hurts when people let you down it will make it easier to work out who to hold onto in your life and who to let go.”
“I would say to my teenage self; I have no idea, I hated my childhood and I hated myself, I would say…go to therapy, start as young as you can, don’t be scared and be honest to yourself, try to not let people take advantage of you, you deserve to be happy, don’t let you mum/parents control and take over your life, wear whatever you want every day and pay no mind to the haters, embrace your queer community and identity as soon as you can, you will find a home there.”
“If I could talk to my teenage self I’d tell him that school will only last so long; but acne – longer if he keeps using his mums anti-ageing cream. I’d say don’t hate how weird you are”
“A bit of madness is key
To give us new colours to see
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us” (La La Land)
“I’d tell my teenage self not to worry, the things that you’re made to feel ashamed of right now will be celebrated in just a few years. Enjoy yourself, make the most of your youth and don’t pretend to be anyone else. You’ll be ok.”
1. When people talk shit about you it has nothing to do with you, but more with them & how shitty their life is.
2. Dressing like a whore will not only make men want to fuck you but you’ll also get almost all your taxi rides for “free.”
3. Never take advice from someone with bad eyebrows or bad breath..
4. Do whatever the fuck you want to do in life no matter what anyone says, it’s YOUR game, YOU create the rules.
5. Be nice to everyone you meet, unless they’re cunts to you at first, then be a cunt right back.. #ImNotTheOneGurl
“Argue less with those elderly ex miners in the bar – you have been misinformed about Margaret Thatcher. Keep doing what you’re doing because not having friends or social skills is considered quirky in your mid twenties and people will call it confidence. The reason you are the fat one isn’t some annoying pot luck – you eat a lot of cake – i know it doesn’t feel like you eat enough cake…but you eat a lot of cake. Come out as gay to your family (your friends already know/don’t exist yet) – it only gets better and you become one of those proud gays who’s entire world is queer. It’s wonderful.”
“Have confidence in yourself, and don’t care whether people like you or not, you’re not here for that and it doesn’t matter. The right people will love you no matter what. Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior for your passions and the love you give to people. Because they don’t understand it, does not mean it is wrong. Quite the opposite in fact. Your big heart is a gift. Don’t lose sight of your goals and work hard. Love and cherish your family as they won’t be here forever. And lastly… your fashion sense is shit! Sort it out!”
“You already know you’re someone different. Embrace that. You are versatile (not the gay reference – you will learn that later on, so go ahead with ya bad top teenage self) in that you are a chameleon and blend with any scene that you want to, doesn’t mean that you will be happy. Feeding into other people egos and your ego won’t do anything that will help you or your cause. Embrace spirituality, find your angels, look for inspiration that will raise you higher, and don’t be afraid to be the unicorn you are meant to be. Magic and love.”
Jack Pattinson (Jacqui Swallows)
“Oof. Where does one begin? First off, those 6 years of fringe were not a good look. Clearly your parents didn’t love you enough to tell you. Secondly, I would tell myself that the fears I had about growing up, finding myself and exploring the world, were all unfounded. There will always be things to be scared of, but if anything, being scared is just an admission that this challenge will take a little more strength than others, but it’s not impossible! Don’t try too hard to plan your life out, because things will never go exactly to plan! Embrace that change! It’ll be the cause of some of your happiest memories… except the fringe. That’ll always be a shit one.”
“You can try and be the perfect human being in the majorities eye’s. But there will always be someone who thinks different. You can never control what people think. Focus on the things you can control. Live in the moment and get out of your head. Only then will you be mentally stable and truly happy.”
Dear little Stefanos,
Make sure you build your walls of emotions sooner than you think and stronger than needed. You will need them to stop any loser invading into your heart.
“To my teenage self I would sayyy: I know things are hard and you feel alone in crowds and lost a lot of the time but you’re so beautiful, creative and powerful, in your heart and your spirit and you’re so RIGHT, just make it to your 30’s and you’ll feel better. You’ll still feel alone sometimes but the quicker you become that friend you’re looking for the happier you’ll be. (Don’t say YES when the bank offers you a “just in case” line of credit at 21 years old. The banks are evil, you’re also right about that.)”
“Don’t change anything because it will all come eventually. Just make sure to tell your dad you’re not actually bi but gay to avoid having to come out twice…and start dance classes as soon as you can. People already know you love cock – who cares if they say it!”
“You don’t know it now but you are depressed. Nothing I can say to you will make this easier. But there’s going to come a day when you realise that you are not made wrong. They are. Only you decide your worth… and you are fucking worth IT. Finding that truth will pull you out of depression and into adulthood. And it’s been fucking fabulous!”
“Hey, you gorgeous, vulnerable, divine gay being. Get ready, you’re in for a bumpy ride. Devastatingly bumpy. I can’t rescue you from it; it pains me, but I can’t. It’s your path. The injustice of this rite of passage, that ought to be no-ones “rite”. The disease, the stigma, the drug-fuelled playgrounds, the sexual expectations. The impossibly hard time you’ll give yourself.
But I’ll hug you all the way, every step. This hug, will save you, in time. And this hug… it’ll be something you share with others one day. So learn it well; this loving hug that will save you, that can save your community.”
Daniel Turrell (Crystal Lubrikunt)
“You are in charge of your life, not your anxiety. You are in control of your brain, so those thoughts you may have? Breathe and allow them to pass. You have survived 100 percent of your days this far, keep going!”
- Stop pretending something that you’re not. It holds you back
- Find your way and do it your way.
- Listen to your instincts, they never lie
- You can prove everybody wrong
- It is completely fine to listen to Slayer and then slut it out on the dance floor to Britney
- Get a haircut, get a gym membership, and shave off some bodyhair
- Get rid of toxic friendships
Robert Houston (Silver Summers)
“Hey Silverbobs! You are not the only gay person in the world. One day you will meet your own tribe and they will help you realise that embracing who you are is really the only way to be truly happy. Yes you are going through hell and it’s about to get worse for a while but soon after it will be so much better!
You are special and unique and the people bullying you will not prevail. You will. Continue to sing in the forest. Continue to pretend to be in Disney films. Continue to hope for better because one day the thing that makes you feel inferior. The thing that makes you different. The thing that makes people call you names. Your Queer Factor. Will become the thing that makes you whole. The thing that makes you content. The thing that makes you better than those who once tried to break you.
Your super power.
Your Queer factor!”
“If I could go back and talk to my teenage self… I’d probably tell her that everyone isn’t as together as they might seem, and that then when I’m older, I’ll appreciate all these things that made me ‘different’. Super cringe, but I’ve actually thought about what I’d do/change if I could go back, and although it wasn’t always very happy, I wouldn’t actually change anything, I would just tell myself that everything will work out in the end – ‘this too shall pass’.”
“Don’t be such a douche: these five words would have helped me no end. Stop worrying about things so much they’re really not that important in the grand scheme of things, and if they are then stop wasting your time trying to change them when you can’t. Don’t judge anyone but most importantly don’t judge yourself”
- Stop chasing Bad Boys. Find a nice Greek Boy to settle down with. God, I sound like my mother.
- People will tell you everything you need to know about about themselves. Don’t ignore the clues.
- You’ll never grow-out of Madonna or Kylie. The world will feel crazier and less stable in the future, perhaps even as far ahead as 2017. Be grateful for any consistency you manage to maintain.
- You can’t control everything. It’s exhausting. And frustrating. Just try and control your own responses better.
- Stop worrying about your appearance.
- Go easy on yourself. Hopefully you are doing the best you can do.
- The metallic blue PVC trousers are not a good idea.
“Stop fucking worrying about what the boys think.”
- A mohawk is NEVER a good idea… try it for a few months but know when enough is enough (3 years is way too long!).
- Be present and enjoy the moment you’re in, as although times can be hard you’re on your own path, so embrace it. Live it. Learn from it.
- You won’t be who you thought you were gonna be at 30… and that’s OK – you’re better off for it.
- Don’t let any pressures (internal and external) keep you from being your true self. The damning thoughts will cause a lasting damage and its so unnecessary.
- RELAX!!! Don’t over think everything. Trust in those you have around you and give them more credit, as they are more open minded than you think. They love you regardless of your sexuality.
- Trust in yourself – you’re the one in the driving seat.
- Save money where possible. Living in London isn’t cheap (for real!).
“Your whole life and all your expectations will change in the next few years. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. Hold tight. People you meet will have the potential to take you to very dark places. It might feel like you’ll never get out of there. But others that you meet will be your salvation. Remember, it’s always darkest before the dawn. Oh, and you will become extremely good looking and not know how to handle that. Just try to remember you were always beautiful, even if it didn’t feel like it”
“You’ll never stop feeling like a fucking weirdo but it won’t always feel this shit”
Dear 15-Year-Old Me,
You are about to go through hell.
This year your depression will really kick in and there’s nothing I can advise to make it better, but you will make it through.
In five years, you’ll be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and they will start to help. You’ll start therapy and begin to understand why your mind feels like a prison, and one day, you will break out of it.
You still haven’t come out to anyone- and you don’t have to – but to help you out a little, our parents already know- they’ve known since you licked Seven-Of-Nine at that Star Trek convention- and they really couldn’t care less.
Be brave, and stop caring so much what other people think.
See you on the other side,
Luke Underwood (Cheryl Hole)
“Don’t listen to a word the haters say. Listen to your gut. Stay fierce and stay away from the blonde bleach hair dye!”
“Hey little whore calm down, there is a lot more time coming to do all of that a lot better!! “
“Own your weirdness. When people tell you you’re weird, embrace it and be that. I assure you there is nothing worse than trying to be normal and fitting in with the ‘cool kids.’ You’ll find your tribe some day…”
Dear Teenage Me:
Hopefully you’ll find a sober moment to read this… When you reach your early twenties you’re gonna burn out – you’ll get lost for a long time. Know this – there is a vast LGBT community beyond the bars and the clubs and the drugs. Seek it out, find it. You need better role models than the ones you have. Find the groups and communities that you can contribute to. Find the people who you feel comfortable with. (Hint: It’s not the party boys, addicts, and dealers that you’re currently lurching around with…) And don’t waste time on unrequited love. It hurts, I know, but suck it up and move on. Oh, and cut waaaaay back on the weed – it ends up giving you horrific anxiety issues in the end. Basically – take better care of yourself. I know it feels like you’re invincible, but you’re not.
The boy that you’re obsessively in love with at the moment ends up becoming a UKIP candidate. I know that won’t mean much to you at the moment, but do hang on to those pictures from that gay porn shoot that you did with him…
1.Don’t waste your time and energy desperately in love with people who don’t love you back. If they don’t love you, they won’t make you happy, so you shouldn’t be together.
2.Spend as much time as possible with people who make you feel like you’re your best self. Avoid people who need to bring you down so that they feel good.
3.Believe that you deserve the good things that happen to you.
4.Almost everyone thinks that they’re just faking it.
“Most people might never truly understand what it’s like to suffer from a single mental health issue let alone anxiety, paranoia and depression. Most people might never understand what it’s like to self harm or what it’s like to feel like you want to take your own life, or even attempt it. But having said that, you’d be surprised how many people are willing to try…. if you let them. Surround yourself with those people.”
“Dear teenage me, You’ll shortly feel as if you don’t fit in anywhere, your emotions will seem out of control and your ‘tribe’ won’t fully accept you. Know this. As hard as it is right now, your individuality will be celebrated, your emotions you’ll learn to harness, you’ll move people and the fact that you don’t fit in means you stand out – which you’ll be grateful for. Love you for your flaws. Because so many others will. Let them. There’s no such thing as a wrong way to feel. Know that, and enjoy the fact you can really feel things because it’s one of the things that makes you special. I love me. You in ten years. “
“Don’t worry that you’re living in a ridiculous world where you get no sex education at home or at school – I went to a Catholic comp in the mid 80s at the height of the AIDS crisis. You couldn’t turn the TV on without seeing Ian Dury putting a johnny on a cucumber*
It’s ok to be different; well it has to be, you so clearly are so you have no choice. It feels like there is no option but to brazen it out & make a virtue of not fitting in – you don’t look right, you don’t dress right & you take refuge in books, music & dreams of the future. The great gift of your imagination & ability to live in other worlds inside your head will not diminish over time, it will prove to be a great solace to you. So please don’t fret that when you try and dress like a girl you wouldn’t convince a two-year-old that you’re ‘normal’. You will escape these narrow confines and run away to London like you’ve always dreamed. You will grow and so will your confidence & faith in yourself. You will be able to look in the mirror & love & accept the person looking back at you. Take heart.”
“If I was offering advice to my teenage self the first thing I would say is “you’re actually a girl by the way” and the second would be “be sluttier”. But I’ve realized the first and I’m working on the second now so perhaps the better advice would be “you don’t have to be so in charge of everything all the time, you can be vulnerable, you can admit you don’t know everything about yourself yet” – I kept a lot of my struggles silent and turned them inward and because I sensed they were ‘too weird’ and I’d never understand them – I was too hard on myself to either have all the answers or to repress things.”
“Don’t try and grow up too soon, enjoy being a teenager, don’t base the importance of your friendships on how much they are worth or what parties they can get you into. Stop lying. Don’t do that line of coke offered to you at “Escape ” club when your 14 “