LGBTQ teens may be two times as likely to be bullied, excluded or assaulted at school. And they’re nearly 40 percent less likely to have an adult in their family to whom they can turn. So it’s no surprise that they may be twice as likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol. All teens deserve to feel comfortable and safe being their true selves, which is at the core being Above the Influence.

June 26, 2015. In a 5-4 ruling, the United States Supreme Court decided that same-sex marriage is a right for those who wish to marry nationwide.

It’s a huge step in American history, allowing marriage equality for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, across all fifty states.

Despite this, there are those who oppose anything other than heterosexuality outright. It makes things difficult for those who do not identify as “straight.”

I am a student. I am a nondenominational Christian, a gamer, a plethora of other things. Oh, and I am bisexual. Despite the huge progress we’ve made towards equality, the world doesn’t fully embrace those of us who aren’t heterosexual.

Depending on your surroundings, it can even be difficult to embrace and accept it yourself. You may try to convince yourself that you’re straight. Throughout high school, I lived with my very religious father and stepmother. They still don’t know I’m bisexual, and I never plan on telling them (more on that later). Often times, it takes weeks, months, even years to come to terms with one’s sexual identity. I myself only came to terms with it less than two years ago. If you only pay attention to one thing I have to say, then listen up: You are not alone.

There are plenty of other people going through the same challenges you are. Many people struggle with their sexual identity, and “coming out” is one of the hardest things to do.

That being said, there’s nothing abnormal about differing sexual identities. I’ve known several people all over the spectrum, those who identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, pansexual… The list goes on. And they are all perfectly normal, wonderful people. Your sexual identity does not define who you are. It is only a small part of you, and only affects your love for other people in a positive way. But to love others, you first have to love yourself.

The first thing you have to do is take a look at yourself, whether in a mirror or just a mental reflection of yourself. Take a deep breath. Relax. Ready? Okay. Then look at your reflection and acknowledge that, yes, you have different interests than others and yes, you are okay. You are still a beautiful person, and nothing about who you find attractive is going to change that. Find someone you can trust, and who you know will support you.

Once you’ve done that, you’re on your way. You are okay. There is nothing wrong about who you like. After accepting myself, I told my mom, my sister, and her husband. They’re all incredibly supportive of me and simply want me to be happy, regardless of what gender my significant other may end up being.

Coming out is difficult, and it’s not a one-time thing. With each new person you meet, you have to decide if you trust them enough to tell them. Not everyone is going to be accepting. There are those who will degrade you, call you derogatory slurs and maybe even attempt to harm you. As I mentioned previously, I have no intentions of telling my father or my step-mother.

Surround yourself with the people in your life that truly matter, your friends and family that will love and support you. In addition, there are plenty of resources for young LGBT+ people out there, and they aren’t difficult to find.

Remember, young men, women, and everyone in between – you are not worth less because of who you like. You are not any less of a person. And you are not alone.