“I am not my sexuality”

When I was younger, around 12 years old, I started to realize that I was really different from everyone else in my school. I never quite “fit in.” And, to be completely honest, I never really knew why. Until one day, in 7th grade, I had this huge crush. It was so new to feel warm and fuzzy around another person. It was frightening and comforting at the same time. It was a feeling I welcomed, until I found out that feeling this way—that loving who I love, that being who I am—can get me into painful situations.

I’m not talking about the first-love-turns-into-first-heartbreak kind of painful. I’m talking about pushed-up-against-a-locker kind of painful. I’m talking about getting-punched-in- the-face kind of painful. I’m talking about losing-all-of-my-friends kind of painful. The- greatest-shame-I’ve-ever-felt kind of painful.

I was ashamed of who I was. I was backed into a corner and I didn’t know how to get out. I was trapped. I was trapped in this sick mind of mine, I told myself back then.

To this day, though I have come out proudly to my family and friends, even though I now live a confident life, there was a time when I never thought that what I have now was possible. And part of that thought still lives on in me. Every now and then I find myself looking over my shoulder making sure no one is following me. Every now and then I find myself scared to face the world. Every now and then I find a little of my old self inside of me. I find my insecurity that still lives on.

And even though I am pretty sure that a small part of this insecurity will always live on in me, I’ve learned to accept it. Because this insecurity I feel is just a reminder of everything I have been through. This insecurity is to make sure I never forget where I came from—that I always remember how I made it through—because in the end, my struggles made me who I am today. The pain I endured and the hatred I faced filled the most painful part of my past, but that history will never define me. I am who I am, insecurity and all. I am a warrior.