Tristan, age 11
Hartford, VT (2001)
The picture was taken at my grandma's house. The girls surrounding me are my sisters. This picture is actually very important to me. It's the first picture of myself where I thought I looked good. I've never considered myself to be a good looking person, but I have always appreciated the way I look in this picture.
When I was younger I was very awkward. I was really into horror films, like "The Shining" and "Alien," and rock music like Nirvana and Soundgarden.
I talked weird, so I was always somewhat self-conscious about my voice.
I generally didn't speak to people very often, and would spend a lot of time alone.
I first realized that I was gay when I was in the 3rd grade. I was attracted to a lot of other boys growing up. But it wasn't until I was 9-years old that I even realized homosexuality existed.
When I was finally open about my sexuality, my family was happy for me.
My mom was a little startled, but she's happy for me today.
But, not everyone accepted me. A few friends were disgusted and avoided me. It hurt, but obviously they weren't going to be faithful to me as friends. If they cared about such superficial things, I eventually realized I was better off without them.
Everyone out there has a different story, and it has really hurt my soul to read about the terrible things a lot of you young people have gone through.
My advice is to learn to be happy with yourself. I know that for many of you,
it will be very hard to do. And I completely understand your fears.
I've been called "f*ggot" before and it always hurts. But you can't let those people discourage you from being happy. Try not to wonder about whether or not you are born this way, because that doesn't matter. Just do what makes you happy.
Self-confidence is an attractive thing.
And the best way to find love, is to love yourself first.
Tristan's first, famous-person same sex crush: