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Pride.

I was shown pretty blouses. As soon as I could walk, I marched straight to the boys' clothing section of Target with a huge grin slapped across my face. I was shown long hair. When I was seven, I cut off as much of my straight blonde hair as my mother permitted. I was told my name was Teresa. Instead, I told my teachers and peers at school to call me "Terry." Being anything but "girlie" was my main focus growing up. But this did not stay an option forever.


At nine years old, I transferred from a public elementary school to a private Baptist elementary/middle school. To my mother, this meant that it was time for me to start dressing more like the girl she gave birth to and named after Mother Teresa. It was at nine that I learned how to feel insecure and obsess over my appearance. But it wasn't until I was sixteen that I received the rudest awakening of all. It didn't hit me like a train, in which I could see it coming. Instead, it hit me like a slap in the face. I had no time to defend myself, and was only beaten enough that I could still stand up, walk away, and continue living my life.

I'd like to think that I am proud to be gay. But when I considered writing about this pride specifically shaping the person I am today, I couldn't help but cringe a little. Because honestly, no, I am not exactly proud of my sexual orientation,- at least, not yet. It has only been a year since I finally came to terms with who I am, and, understandably, I am still not crazy about the idea of holding the position of a minority for the rest of my life. It is not my sexuality that I am proud of. It is surviving this life-changing revelation that caused me to hate myself that I am proud of. I survived two suicide attempts, coming out to my parents, and a deep animosity I felt toward myself for years. I survived being gay. I am proud of surviving something that I never even thought I'd have to face in the first place. I am proud of myself for coming out to who I mistakingly thought was the love of my life who, was himself, in love with me. I am proud of myself for telling a teacher when this "love of my life" told me he was probably going to shoot himself in the head with one of his father's guns when he got home from school that Thursday afternoon. I am proud of all the steps I have taken to become comfortable with the person I cannot change.

Through my experience of accepting myself, I am now confident that I possess the quality of knowing how to help myself. I communicate with others by sharing my feelings honestly and not withholding information. I perfected this when communicating with my ex boyfriend after coming out to him. This quality goes hand in hand with my talent of being insightful, perceptive, and intuitive. I have been told I hold great insight to situations and that I am able to keep a level head. I do not overreact and know how to calmly and realistically handle intense moments. Youth mentors at the Rainbow Community Center I attend have told me that they were impressed by my understanding and insight into my relationship that I shared with them. I have experi



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