In a sincere and heartwarming video on YouTube, Icelandic teen Vífill Harðarson encourages everyone to love and accept themselves whether they’ll come out of the closet or not, for that is the only way to go through life. Vífill decided to make the video after speaking to LGBT teens from all around the world and finding out how many suffer from low esteem.
“I knew right away by the first stories that many teenagers remain closeted due to religious problems and so forth. However, I knew I’d be posting a video online and it would only do harm if I’d talked badly about religion or certain countries. So instead I came to the conclusion that my project would have to target each individual, individually,” he explains.
The reason for Vífil reaching out this way was a project at school in Singapore where he temporarily lives with his family. He himself came out to his parents two years ago, just before his 15th birthday.
“They were sitting on the balcony and I was taking a bath, and at that time I wasn’t really happy about being gay. In other words; I didn’t want to believe it. But I had seen and met a lot of people of all sexualities and they seemed so happy and jolly when out of the closet, and of course I wanted that too. So while sitting in the bathtub I told myself over and over again “I’m gay, I’m gay, I’m gay”. So I decided that the only way to settle the fact would be to come out to my parents who had been hinting towards the fact themselves for a long time. I put on some clothes and took a good half an hour before waltzing to them and just told them, and they said they knew. After that I felt like a heavy weight had been lifted off my chest, because I was so thrilled I had come out to them.”
Like so many before him Vífill felt free after coming out. And that made him want to help others feel the same way.
“After that my parents often asked how I felt about being out and free. I’d always give them positive answers. But it soon made me realize that I wasn’t coming out to them but to myself which allowed me to find love for myself and that’s what really made me free. It also made me realize that it wasn’t a big of a deal coming out to my parents, family or friends, because none of it mattered to me. The thought of someone disagreeing with my sexuality didn’t matter anymore because I loved myself for who I am and that’s all I cared about. That’s also why I decided to talk to others in similar situations, learn about their personal stories and finally make a video stressing how important it is to love yourself.”
“I also spoke to a boy forced to remain in the closet due to the law and religion of his country. If he’d admit he was gay he’d be thrown out of home and face punishment.”
So when Vífill was required to work on a personal project at school he saw an opportunity.
“I decided to extend my horizon of the current situation for LGBT youth in different societies in the world. And create a video, which I’d then post on YouTube, discussing and stressing the importance of loving yourself for who you are. I used TrevorSpace (a social network similar to Facebook but specifically for LGBT youth) to contact LGBT teens and entered a whole new social media of teenagers of all sexualities. There I posted a forum of sorts explaining that I was doing a project about the closet and sexualities and would be so pleased if anyone could contact me.”
Vífill got responses from all over the world: USA, Germany, Singapore, India, Saudi-Arabia, England and more. Many of the kids were faced with great obstacles because of their sexuality. Some due to culture and religion. Others due to struggles within.
“One person was threatened she’d be thrown out of home if she wouldn’t change. Surely enough that same person was accepted with a warm heart by her mother. I also spoke to a boy forced to remain in the closet due to the law and religion of his country. If he’d admit he was gay he’d be thrown out of home and face punishment. Few others remained in the closet because they simply didn’t want to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etc., and felt they needed to change to elude name calling if they’d come out. Many felt that they needed to change or talked about trying to change by forcing themselves to like the opposite gender. That was a huge problem which made them remain closeted.”
But was there a certain big challenge that all these kids, whether from England or Saudi-Arabia, seemed to face?
“The matter of facing themselves,” Vífill answers. “That seemed to be the biggest challenge for everyone I spoke to. And some kids were just afraid of what others might think of them.” Although it’s important for others to like you, Vífill stresses that it’s more important to love yourself.
TrevorSpace is a social networking site for LGBT youth, similar to Facebook, where teens of all sexualities can communicate with each other, find support and make new friends from all over the world. Trevor space was created by the Trevor Project, an organization that runs charities to support prevention of LGBT youth suicides. For more information on TrevorSpace, check out trevorspace.org.
Main photo: Vífill Harðarson (to the far right) has traveled all around the world with his family. This picture was taken when they were in Vietnam last year.