SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

The search for self: A student’s story of finding identity and community

Photo+by+Mirranda+Reinhardt+at+K.D.+Elise+Photography+
Photo by Mirranda Reinhardt at K.D. Elise Photography

By Kimmy Reinhardt

Unlike many queer individuals, I grew up in a home where being yourself, and loving who you love, was widely accepted. 

My school life, however, was quite the opposite. As someone who grew up in a very stereotypical religious group as a homeschool student, I never had the opportunity when I was young to learn who I am when it came to my sexuality. In the program I attended twice a week during late middle school and all of high school, queerness was a joke, it was bad, and it led to you being viewed as a bad person who lived a horrible life.

For a long time, I didn’t know I was queer. I didn’t know that “straight women” really did like only men. I figured everyone finds all types of people attractive, regardless of gender. 

I did know when the people around me made mean comments about the LGBTQ+ community, I felt hurt. When people called me a bad Christian for sharing information about pride events on my personal social media profiles, I was hurt. Not just by the comments I received on the post, but because something deep inside me knew that it was more than a comment on my feed about people I cared for and supported.

It impacted me. It was about me. 

I know now that I am not a bad person for loving who I love. I am not bad because I am queer.

It took me a long time to accept myself for who I was, not because I viewed being queer as bad, but because I was told we can love members of the LGBTQIA+ community but we can’t support their ways. Even when I knew these beliefs didn’t align with mine and who I wanted to be, I still struggled to let them go. 

I can’t say I found that community during those pivotal moments of my life in high school – the moments everyone claims are the best years of your life. 

My queer story isn’t a story of stumbling into a place where I was loved and welcomed instantly. It was a story of searching and ultimately of finding a community that would accept me and allow me to be who I am when I wasn’t even sure who I was. A community where I could support those going through the same moments as me, where we could come together over the struggles we faced. Where everyone was allowed to grow into themselves.

In late spring or early summer of 2019, I finally found a place where I was accepted, where I could be fully myself, and my life found a value I never knew it could. I found a community where being queer was not just a negative side effect of existence, but was a sign of accepting who you were and that was a reason to be celebrated.

After 20 years of my life, I’m happy to say I’ve found my place. I’ve met people online and in daily life who support me and who I love. I have had the chance to finally exist as me, with never again having to hide behind others’ beliefs or expectations. 

Pride month gives the LGBTQIA+ community the opportunity to be ourselves, which is something so many of us never had growing up. It gives us a community, a shared space to celebrate that being who we are is enough. 

From the Stonewall Riots in 1969 to celebrating together in 2022, pride reminds us where we came from and what we’ve built. As a community, we’ve come so far, and as individuals, we continue to show how much farther we can go.

Kimmy Reinhardt is a rising senior double majoring in media communications and elementary education. She is the digital director of SoCaP Student Media and the social media manager of The Today. 

 The Summer Of Winters

Queer stories and helping young adults find themselves

Small Town Censorship

Jason’s Writing Agenda

This story is also featured on Wolf Den

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Today

Your donation will support the student journalists of Colorado State University Pueblo. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Today

Comments (0)

All The Today Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *