Celebrating Individuality: Anaïs's Story

My name is Anaïs, and I'm a 30-year-old French national from Reunion Island. I have always been passionate about languages, which has led me to live in various countries like Mexico and China. Currently, I have been residing in Taiwan for the past two years.

Growing up as a member of the LGBTQ+ community was incredibly challenging for me. My mother didn't accept my sexuality, and I lacked support and understanding. When I came out to my friends, they didn't believe me and thought I was joking. It was a lonely and isolating time as my parents felt ashamed and disappointed. I struggled to find a sense of belonging.

Societal attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals had a profound impact on my life during my formative years. In France, when I came out at the age of 15, same-sex marriage was prohibited, and there was a lack of representation in the media and society. I felt completely misunderstood and alone, uncertain about what the future held for me.

As an LGBTQ+ person, I have faced various challenges and experiences. People often expect individuals to conform to stereotypes and assumptions about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Due to my feminine appearance, I have encountered amusing reactions when discussing or introducing my partner. People express surprise and question my sexual orientation, creating awkward situations. I often felt like an outsider in a world that didn't fully embrace me.

My LGBTQ+ identity has influenced both my personal and professional life. Coming out to family and friends and navigating relationships with others who may not understand or accept my identity has been challenging on a personal level. Professionally, I have faced difficulties, especially when considering job opportunities that require travel to countries where LGBTQ+ individuals face discrimination and persecution. I have had to prioritize my safety and well-being, which led me to decline certain opportunities.

In the country I currently live in, Taiwan, significant progress has been made in the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2019, marking a groundbreaking milestone in Asia. However, there are still legal barriers for individuals from countries where same-sex marriage is prohibited to marry their Taiwanese partners.

To support the LGBTQ+ community, specific policies and actions need to be taken. Removing legal barriers for international couples and ensuring a seamless adoption process for same-sex couples are essential steps. I hope for greater acceptance, respect, and rights for our community, both in my country and around the world.

For those struggling with their LGBTQ+ identity or facing discrimination, it's important to know that you are not alone. Acceptance and self-discovery take time, and it's okay to go at your own pace. Prioritize your safety and seek support from trusted friends, family, or LGBTQ+ organizations. Your identity is valid, and there are resources available to help you on your journey.

Allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community can work together to create a more inclusive and accepting society. I am grateful for those who show acceptance and offer emotional support. Representation of the LGBTQ+ community should be promoted throughout the year, not just during Pride Month. Brands and organizations can make a difference by showcasing diverse relationships and celebrating love in all its forms. Inclusivity is an opportunity for positive change and creating a society where everyone feels seen, valued, and represented.