31 - Monica Podlecki
Colorado Springs, CO
Interior Design student at Pikes Peak Community College
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know something was different?
“Gosh, I honestly didn’t even know what being gay was until high school. I was kinda of a sheltered kid, not because of my parents, I just wasn’t good at making friends... In high school I started learning about all of it. One of my close friends, I realized I had a crush on her and it kind of started opening a lot of doors for me, realizing all that…
It was my freshman year of high school when I realized I had a crush on her. Just last month, I told her about it. Not expecting anything to come of it. And she said that she had a crush on me too, at that time. But she’s in Arizona right now so we have an agreement. If she comes back here and she’s not seeing anyone and I’m not seeing anyone we’re going to go on a date…”
On her coming out experience…
“I came out to my Mom when I was around 17. She was very accepting of it. I don’t think she fully understands everything about being queer or gay, but she does her best. I was always afraid to come out to my Dad because he said really homophobic and derogatory things in the past... and the same thing with my brother. My Dad kind of figured it out on his own and ended up telling me that no matter what, he loves me still. My brother also had said some pretty homophobic and derogatory things... but the moment that made me realize that he accepted me, was when in conversation he called me ‘rainbow’ which I thought was kind of cute. He thought I wouldn’t get it, but I did.”
On fears or concerns about coming out…
“I was scared of my family disowning me. I was scared of losing a lot of friends because I’ve had, in my young life, I’ve had boys interested in me and when I told them I wasn’t interested in the same way, they stopped being my friend. That was definitely a fear that once I came out as gay, all my guy friends wouldn’t be interested in being my friend anymore. I’ve slowly been learning that the people who don’t like it aren’t worth having around…”
Frustrations within the community?
“I think the most frustrating thing is how there’s still alienation within the community. Not everyone that claims to be LGBTQ+ accepts everyone else who identifies the same way. People who are Ace (asexual) aren’t necessarily accepted. I’ve met people who themselves are Trans but they still have Transphobic tendencies. Or, the whole concept of a ‘gold-star lesbian’...”
Favorite thing about the community?
“That you can find a space that’s totally accepting. When you find your people and the people who are going to love you regardless... Going to PrideFest and all of the love and support and connection that you can feel in community is awesome. It’s like any situation, being American, I have problems with some things the government does, that doesn’t mean I don’t love being American... I just disagree with other people’s opinions sometimes and that’s ok.”
One thing to tell your younger self? Advice for anyone out there who feels like they can’t come out, or don’t have a community to be a part of?
“Advice I would give to my younger self is to stop being afraid of what everyone thinks of you, because you’re going to come out and everyone is going to love you with open arms... To anyone who feels like they don’t have a community to come out to, you’ll find your people, you will. Sometimes it’s scary and sometimes it’s not safe to come out to the people around you because it can become a dangerous situation. But it gets better, you’ll find your people, you’ll move on and it will be great.”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“I’m proud of my ability to get back on my feet after I’ve been knocked down. Regardless of what hardships I’m going through, whether it’s part of being queer or not, I’m able to pick up the pieces however long it takes.”
With the current state of the world & nation, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?
“I think I’d want to change people’s mindsets to just let other people be happy. I know that’s complex and not so easy as just one wish and you’ve got it, but there’s just so much bad stuff happening in the world people doing what they want to do to be happy, within reason, I don’t think should be a problem with anyone.”