growing up gay photo expressions

Growing up gay. There are things nobody can warn you about when you’re growing up gay. Nobody can warn you about the way you'll feel different in any social situation you may find yourself in. The immense feeling of ostracization, even if it isn’t intentional. You won’t relate to “the boys” and their comments about the girls in your class. You will have to learn to over-analyze the room you're in and make sure you use the correct colloquial terms to not stick out. You’ll be extra wary of the things you watch, listen to, and love for fear of your parents finding out. You won’t go to the prom with the girl you’ll eventually call your high school sweetheart. You probably won’t even go to the prom with someone you like. You won’t get to have the seemingly magical first love that’ll eventually end when you both move away for college. Every scene of young love you’ve seen in the media will make you wonder why you can’t have that. You won’t relate to any songs you hear because the pronouns don’t match. You’ll get asked why you have so many girl-friends but never a girlfriend. You will suppress your personality and learn to mirror the ones around you. You’ll learn to fit in because you will learn that people do not like people that are different. You will learn to ignore the comments that are said with a sly tongue behind your back.

The most important thing that nobody warns you about is the way your parents will choose a book over you. Nobody can warn you of the things they’ll say to you when they find out the truth. That they’ll tell you that you'll never be successful. That you ruined their life. That you’ve disgraced the family. That you will get AIDS and die. No one warns you about the nightmares you will have about your skin burning off in Hell; because that’s what your dad preached to you for 5 hours after he found out you were gay. You won’t feel loved in church anymore, although you probably didn’t, to begin with. No one can warn you for the endless sermons on the “lock and key” analogy that seems to target you directly. No one tells you that the dreams you have of being the next doctor in your family will be crushed because you no longer have a family. 

Nobody will tell you that from now on, there is no longer a need to look for familiar faces when celebrating milestones. Nobody will tell you that you’ll eat graduation dinner alone in a McDonald’s parking lot. The first year will be the hardest. You will feel poignant when you move into your dorm and you’re the only one who doesn’t have their parents there to help them move in. The praise you used to receive for making good grades will vanish, after all, who would celebrate a failure.

No one tells you that you can make it without them. Nobody will warn you that blood truly does not equal family. You will make new friends, eventually the ones you could see being at your wedding. You’ll learn to be independent and learn to juggle working and furthering your education. You will feel depressed when those friends are going to the football game while you are taking a shower for your shift. You will learn that making mistakes is okay because you don’t have anyone to let down anymore. You will learn that your dreams are still obtainable even if you’ve missed one too many classes. You will learn that your worth is not determined by what others think of you. You will learn that not everyone will accept you, but you’ll find the people that do. You will learn that you can still be a doctor, you will just be the first one in your new family. You will be the doctor you always dreamed of even if you’re the only one attending your white coat ceremony. You will preserve, you will learn from your mistakes, you will take the MCAT, and you will pass. Growing up gay isn’t something that I would wish on my worst enemy, but it is also something I would never change if I had the chance. I have learned to navigate a world not tailored to me. I have learned empathy for those who are different. I have learned to open my heart to those who are struggling. I have grown up to be the man I always wanted to be. I have learned that others’ opinions of me do not dictate the person I am. I have learned that the world is unforgiving and scary, but you must take a chance. You will never gain anything if you stay stationary. I have lived a life where everyone believed in me and I have lived a life where not a single person did either, but I guess that is just life when you’re growing up gay.

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