United States 2022/23 | school program

Hey, I'm 16 years old and traveled to Illinois (USA) with AFS in August.

Even before I applied, I knew that I identified as bi, and in Germany I had experienced a lot of tolerance from those around me and had hardly any negative experiences in connection with it.

However, I knew I had to approach the issue cautiously during the year as I could not be sure that people from a different culture and possibly different faith would be as accepting of LGBTQ as my family, friends and myself.

During my four months here, I gained a lot of great experiences, got to know new people and a different culture. This also brought me closer to Christianity, as my family and many other families and friends in my area are Christians and attend church weekly.

For the following paragraph it might be appropriate to give a trigger warning.

When I arrived at my host family for the first time and got to know them a little better after a few weeks, including learning what exactly faith consists of and how they live out their faith, I dared to say that during a conversation with my host mother addressing the issue of sexuality. I started with questions such as what your personal opinion on homosexuality is and what the church and the Bible say about it. I later came out to her and her reaction wasn't the best one could hope for, but it was definitely better than I expected. She said the Bible says only a man and a woman can marry and it's a sin to be homosexual. However, she also emphasized that there is no one who never sins. She would not exclude or treat worse a person who is part of the community because of it.

After this conversation, she told me again that she was glad that I confided in her.

I think we both agree that the conversation strengthened our relationship and made it a little bit better, even though we have different mindsets. One of the most beautiful experiences I've had related to the topic was a friendship I formed. One person confided in me after we became friends and came out to me. It really means a lot to me that the person felt comfortable enough to confide in me and it's the best and closest friendship I've made here to date.

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