I preface this blog by saying: I was never planning to post this on HEAL. This piece of writing was only supposed to go on my personal Facebook profile as my reaction to the Hold Tight campaign currently running with ANZ. The reaction I received was overwhelming, and I feel that it is my duty to spread my story - no matter how uncomfortable it makes me - in the hope that it will impact the lives of young people. I initially wasn't going to post it in the fear that potential and current clients would judge me as a person and as a therapist and that it would impact my work. Then I realised that fearing something like that is the exact reason why I NEED to post this on HEAL. My experiences have given me insight into life events that a huge amount of young people are struggling with. So instead of hiding it... I proudly share my story with you.
Last year I fell in love with my friend and we were together for an incredible year. This friend was a girl. It completely took me by surprise. I have never looked at girls romantically, but when I looked at her I only saw her soul, and it was the most incredible soul I had ever met.
Falling for someone of the same gender was an unbelievably eye opening experience from a personal perspective. As a psychologist, it was also an incredible experience from a social perspective. It was interesting seeing people's reactions when I would say I had a 'girlfriend'. I could hear the clogs in their minds try to comprehend what I had just told them, internally battling that I didn't fit the stereotype or that they only knew me to have boyfriends. Some people were shocked, some asked me inappropriate questions, some tried to put a label on me, and some just smiled and continued the conversation like I had just told them I ate a toasted cheese sandwich. Telling people that I had a girlfriend during that year never made me nervous, but there was one thing that did - walking down the street holding her hand.
I have never been one for public displays of affection, but this act, with this person, was especially difficult for me. I could feel people's gazes burning my skin as they stared. Some people would take a double look. Some would make comments under their breaths. I can honestly say that these were some of the most uncomfortable moments of my life... and every instinct told me to let go of her hand, but I never did. Every time I felt the anxiety rushing over me, I remembered the world that I want to live in. A world where no one should feel shame for who they love, where no one should have to hide who they are. So instead of letting go, I would hold her hand tighter than ever. I held it knowing that I was willing to push through the discomfort, cop the stares, hear the comments, deal with the giggles, and pave the way so that the next generation didn't ever have to experience the same judgement and ignorance.
Boys - hold your boyfriends hand. Girls - hold your girlfriends hand. Never be ashamed of who you love. Hold on tight so our children, and their children, and their children's' children can walk down the street with no shame, only pride in their hearts. Hold tight, things will change! #holdtight
Samantha Tassini, Psychologist and Founder of HEAL Psychology shares her experience as a therapist and in helping people heal with horses.