This image has always represented an internal projection of myself at quiet. The memory might be fabricated from various stories and visits to the mountain, but I can still smell that tulip. And feel the warmth of a wood fire and the comfort of surrounding family. It reminds me what I imagine feeling whole would be like.
|"Face deep in a tulip at the cabin."|
I was always some version of "different."
Different smart, different social, different gay.
I rehearsed Michael Jackson routines at 4, and memorized a graduate microbiology textbook at 5.
I knew I was gay at 12, though my peers had been letting me know for some time longer. My dad knew how hard things were for me in high school, adding 30 minutes to his commute every morning so I wouldn't have to ride the bus.
I walked from class to class outside, and picked class seating at the nearest exits or doors. And while I was a coward in this environment, I spoke with conviction and poise in front of news crews and politicians: A place where I could focus my energies and could enact change, as I found my own situation immovable.
My message for kids today is:
I've learned you must be your own advocate, if you cannot find one. Whatever pain or disillusionment you experience must be redirected, or it will weigh you down. Be fiercely loyal to your friends. And never let someone project their inadequacies onto you. Love unconditionally and try to be kind.
Unless someone is messing with you. In which case, aim for their "psychological knees" and be unrepentant in defending yourself, and those you love. A bully is at its weakest and most dangerous when challenged.
So, approach them with caution - but don’t back down