**some names have been changed to protect the identity of the sources**

Checking in on American’s LGBTQ+ rainbow

Rebecca Beddingfield

Staff Writer

     Valentine’s Day is the ultimate day to celebrate love: love that overcomes all obstacles and that brings happiness into a person’s life. Thousands of red and pink roses, chocolate boxes, and teddy bears are sold every year. The love stories of many LGBTQ+ individuals have painted Valentine’s Day in rainbow colors.

     Before people can fall in love, they have to meet. AJ Laxa (11) and his boyfriend John Wagas (11) met in an AP European History class during their sophomore year. They started out as friends and began hanging out at brunch.

     “As we were talking, it became ‘I look forward to brunch.’ It was the best part of my day at that point,” says Wagas (11).

     Other couples took a bit longer to realize that they liked each other. Jane Doe (11) and her girlfriend Vada Bamboza (11) have known each other since seventh grade, but it wasn’t love at first sight.

     “The funny part about that was that she would tell me about [liking] my best friend, but I liked her. I didn’t say anything, so I was the wing woman,” says Bamboza.

     In the midst of friendship, many people in the LGBTQ+ community have to come to terms with their sexuality before they can enter into a relationship. Morrigan Banks (9) is one person who had trouble accepting that part of themselves.

     “For the longest time, I was was really scared, because I was scared that I was going to be condemned to hell, but in the Bible, it tells you that God is going to love you no matter what,” Banks says. “If He really hated everyone for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etc., then wouldn’t we all not be here right now?”

     After overcoming struggles with sexual orientation, many brave souls then confess their feelings to their crushes.

     “I was like ‘Hey, I think I like you’ and I was thinking ‘Welp, she’s straight, she doesn’t like me, time to be sad again,’” says Doe (11), remembering how she confessed to her girlfriend.

     Doe had many crushes on heterosexual girls in middle school, so she thought Bamboza would be no different. However, Doe was in for a surprise.

     “I said ‘Actually, I kinda like you back’ and her only response to that was ‘wait, what?’” says Bamboza (11).

    Before and after the big moment of two people finally coming together, students like to ‘ship’ couples. Laxa and Wagas have dated ever since sophomore year, and have become very well-known on campus. However, they don’t want to be known as the “LGBTQ+ couple.”

     “I’d rather be seen as the gold standard,” says Wagas, “it’s like when JFK said ‘I’m not the Catholic candidate for president; I’m the candidate that happens to be Catholic.’”

     Another well-known ship on campus in Desna Bui (10) and Sebastian Moreira (12). Bui identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community as a bisexual.

     “I was lucky enough to have an understanding partner,” says Bui (10). “I think the problem with a lot of LGBTQ+ people in heterosexual relationships is that, especially with bisexual people like me, people think that there’s a higher chance of cheating on their partner. However, it’s really not like that.”

     Even if a couple is “shipped,” not all of their romantic gestures are perfectly executed with fairytale-like precision. Doe took Bamboza to the winter ball their sophomore year, and Doe made an attempt to impress her girlfriend.

     Doe was messing around with her friends, and a stylish walk was a sure way to impress Bamboza, who says, “It was like a cowboy walk. I don’t know why she was doing it, and I didn’t even realize it because I was on my phone for a bit, but then I looked up and I was like ‘Kay, I like you, but what the hell?’”

    Valentine’s Day can be confusing for everyone, but what these couples have demonstrated is the importance of knowing and being yourself before seeking someone else. No matter identity or relationship status you have, that’s something we can all stand to learn.

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