Brush Valley, Pennsylvania (1976)
Back in the 70's, we always got the necessities for Christmas: clothes, school supplies, and shoes. AND, one special thing from our Santa wish list. All I wanted for Christmas that year was the Lynda Carter "Wonder Woman" doll. And you have never seen a child so happy as the Christmas Day when I opened my "special" present, and there she was - WONDER WOMAN!!!
As for school, it was not easy for me. Throughout grade school and high school I was picked on and bullied and called names I would really rather not say. But I SURVIVED! I graduated high school in 1987 with a graduating class of 167 seniors. And I thought I would never want to see any of them again.
I immediately moved to Tampa, FL and to no one's surprise, I "came out." I went back to college and moved into the business field. Now, a quarter century later I work for a multi-billion dollar healthcare firm.
On Facebook in 2009, I started seeing people I went to high school with, and we began talking. I found out that those who picked on me the worst had a story of their own (abusive homes, sexual assault, drug problems). In November, we had our 25th HS Reunion. The people I thought I would never want to see again gave me such a wonderful evening, that we didn't stop talking until 5:00am!
My message for LGBTQ kids today is:
Right now you are on but one path. This path may seem insurmountable, but if you push through, there will be thousands and millions of paths to choose. And if none of those paths are for you, then pave your own!
You can do anything you set your mind to. Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done, or there is no hope. I am just one of millions, and I found my path.
I am surrounded by a wonderful family (not all necessarily blood family), incredible friends, and the satisfaction of know that I SURVIVED, I have LIVED, and that I have no regrets.
Be exactly who you are and be PROUD!
"Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"