Hello, I’m—different.


I was in first grade when I knew I was different.

Ironically, I knew I was different because all I did was hang out with girls.

I had so many girlfriends: Olivia, Lily, Madison—the list goes on.

However, I did notice that all “the boys” *didn’t* hang out with the girls.


No. They, ran away from the girls; they, teased the girls; they, avoided the girls. No. They, actually liked the girls. Like, like-like.


No I was different.


In fifth grade, I still hung out with the girls. I mean, they were my friends, but in fifth grade that’s when “the boys” started to turn into to “the jerks”. 


“Gay-boy. Homo. Disgusting.” I heard them all. I heard them all, and I denied them all.


“No, I wasn’t gay. Of course not. I’m just different.”


But the truth was, I wasn’t being truthful. The truth was, I did find the boys in my class attractive. The truth was, my little fifth grade heart would flutter if a boy I liked just stared back at me. 


But, no. I wasn’t gay, I was just different.


And it was in seventh grade when I had my first kiss: Julie. She was attractive? Sure, that’s what “the boys” said. I mean I changed my whole lifestyle just so people wouldn’t think that I, couldn’t possibly be, even slightly be, you know, *whisper gay.


I changed so “the boys”—“the jerks”—would be “the friends.” I started to force myself to talk differently. I wanted a deeper voice—no. I needed a deeper voice. 


I would stand in front of the mirror at night, and I would pick of features that were different. 

My hands. They needed to be at my side—constantly. Don’t use them to gesture. Okay. 

My teeth, don’t show them. Smile without smiling. Okay.

My legs, I needed to walk much slower, less of bounce. I needed to walk like a guy. Okay.

Okay. I can do this.


And I did. For 18 years.


I walked, talked, smiled, as a stranger to myself. I built bridges with friends that were merely made our self-deprecating lies, and insincere thoughts. I tore apart a girl who liked me, just to tear a part the the thoughts I concealed, the emotions I felt, the love I hid.  I lived, spoke, and ate lies because when I saw “the boys” walking through the halls, “the boys” watching me in the locker rooms, “the boys” sitting next to me, “the boys” sitting around at the kitchen table asking me to pass the ketchup, I. Felt. Scared. 


But what was I scared of? Being different? No.


I didn’t know why I was scared, but what I did know is that fear screamed lullabies when I went to bed at night. He would look me in the eyes every morning in the mirror when I brushed my teeth, just to give me a kiss right before I left for school. He would meet by my locker, and make sure to remind that everyone was looking at me. He stayed in gym bag for PE, generously offering me help to change in front all of “the boys”. He would sit next to me at church, reminding me that I was going to Hell. He stood behind me at the dinner table, making sure I never said too much. He slept next to me, slapping me every time I closed my eyes. He was always there. Bitting, gnawing, and grinding whatever he could only to change me into someone I didn’t want to be. The only way I could hide from him, was if I hid myself from others. But I just wanted to be me. I just wanted to be Brian.


So, I decided it was time to change—again.


I took it slow, but by the end of my senior I was more open about the things I liked, less judgmental about the way I talked, and more loving toward who I truly was. And it was hard. It was goddamn hard. And after I graduated high school, I decided I didn’t care about “the boys” and their little games. I didn’t care about fitting in, and being popular. I didn’t care for those who wouldn’t love me for being me, because if you can’t accept who I am, and who I was born to be, then you can leave. 


Each day for those eighteen years, fear painted a fresh coat of himself onto me each morning. But when I turned eighteen, I scraped and scrubbed every inch of Him off of me until the only thing that was left was beautiful, pristine, and honest. I scraped until I was myself again. 


I am loved; I am accepted; and I am beautiful, but I am also different, and different is okay.


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Hello, I am Brian.

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