Natalie Morales, a rising television star who held prominent roles on The Grinder, Parks and Recreation, and The Santa Clarita Diet, came out as queer in an essay on Amy Poehler's Smart Girls website.
In the moving piece, Morales describes growing up in a Catholic household with a single mom. One of her earliest memories of LGBT people involved a gay friend of her mother's who bought her badly-needed school supplies.
By the time Morales was in high school, she knew she was attracted to men and women and began a turbulent relationship with a female student. After the relationship ended, she described feelings of confusion and self-hate, made worse by people around her.
"I was told bisexuals were degenerates who are selfish and just want the best of both worlds. I was told gay men are fine because they’re funny and have good taste, but lesbian women are wastes of space. I was told the idea of two women kissing was disgusting."
Morales, 32, overcame the feelings of inadequacy, realizing "queer" is the best word to describe herself.
"I don’t like labeling myself, or anyone else, but if it’s easier for you to understand me, what I’m saying is that I’m queer. What queer means to me is just simply that I’m not straight. That’s all. It’s not scary, even though that word used to be really, really scary to me."
The actress notes many positive changes have occurred for queer youth since her adolescence, but notes the enormous challenges and tragedies our community faces, from the atrocities against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya to the Pulse massacre, where 49 people were killed in a Orlando nightclub catering to queer Latinx people.