Paulina, age 7
Quilpué, Chile (1994)
I'm in the white dress here, at ballet class, and this photo is very representative of my childhood. On one hand, you can see my expression of loneliness and sadness. On the other, the obvious efforts of my mother in trying to make me posh and elegant. I always felt different next to all those delicate little girls dancing, so I usually only hung out with the boys.
|“Pretending to be soft"|
In my ballet classes, there was a 9-year old girl with the most beautiful smile in the world. I cried with excitement seeing her dance.
It was through dance that I finally discovered myself, and that I always felt different.
A bit later when I was 12, our dance group went to the capital city, for a meeting of many dance groups. There was only one large dressing room with about 150 girls around my age. I was in the hormonal peak of life, and in that moment, seeing myself surrounded by half-naked women, I had an epiphany: 'I like girls.'
But also in that moment, I felt fear. My family was very strict and very religious, and back then, I couldn't listen to secular music and almost all TV shows were banned. It's not a surprise that my religion was against gays, because they think that they are sinners and are possessed by demons.
It took me many years to process my life and think back to that lonely, innocent girl who just hung out with boys. And who struggled to appear more feminine. Finally, I left everything, and fell in love with a woman who filled my heart.
While I lost a lot of people that were important to me (because they believed and still believe that gay friends and their faith are incompatible), I won many new friends who love me and think I'm valuable. They love me for who I am, and not of what I look like.
Today, I am very happy with my wife, Catalina, who stayed with me during this storm. And we just decided to get married. And now, I know that God made me this way. I accept it, and I'm happy.
And for today's gay kids:
Everything bad that you're feeling now, it will all go away. Do not lose hope.
Paulina's first, famous-person same sex crush: