Inspired by Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay by Paul Vitagliano, I’ve decided to share my own story of growing up gay.
I’m about eight or nine in this photo, it’s Christmas and I’m striking a pose in my Power Rangers pyjamas proudly showing off my new cross puppet. I remember loving to entertain others, being full of confidence and having no inhibitions. I remember being sensitive, caring and sometimes in a world of my own. My mum describes me as a child by saying I was “such a joy to have.”
If you’d have shown me this photo as a teenager I’d have cringed with embarrassment. By my teen years I’d realised that I was different to others; I became very self-conscious of what my peers thought about me and was hiding my sexuality out of fear of what they’d think, say or do. I also became extremely self-critical of seemingly everything about myself.
Today, I look at this photo and aspire to be like that younger version of myself. I am so thankful that as a child my mum instilled me with confidence to be myself and always made me feel loved. I am still learning and developing as I experience life, but there are many goals I’ve been successful in achieving and the others I’m working towards.
If there are any gay youth who are experiencing what I did in my teens I would encourage them to stay true to who they are, only listen to the opinions of people who truly love you – they will love you for who you are, seek out support (Google: lgbt support) and come out when you’re ready.
I look at this photo and think: how did my family not know I was gay? The answer is that they did! I was born gay and I wouldn’t be any other way.
Published by: The Gay UK on Friday 8th August 2014.