Since a very young age, I knew I was different.
And I could use these 10 words to sum up my entire life so far.
But let’s start from the beginning.
I have been extremely lucky. My childhood is nothing but a string of happy moments, and I can neither complain about the rest of my life. I am not saying that everything has always been perfect, but that even during bad times I could count on my beloved ones.
Growing up, I had plenty of cousins and friends I could play all day long with, and I also had good and caring teachers during primary school. Everything was perfect, except for the fact that I had this slightly weird sensation that something was wrong with me. I did not know what it was, but from time to time it made me feel scared. My parents were and still are the most tolerant people on Earth, and have always encouraged me to become and independent and open minded person. And that’s with this little introduction that I’d like to welcome you into my teenage years’ memories.
During middle school I remember having a huge crush on this blond guy, who was very delicate and smart. We eventually became ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’, but never shared a kiss (we were both very childish and cute). After him, I do not remember any other major crush. Well, to be honest, I actually remember spending days saying to my friends how much I liked this or that boy when, in reality, I didn’t. But that’s what girls do, right? Girls are meant to have crushes on boys, and I wanted to feel normal, like any other girl.
Fast forward to high school, things got worse when I even began entertaining romantic relationships with some guys.
In fact, while many of my female friends were feeling this big passion for our male friends, the maximum I could reach was being interested for 5 days, feeling then trapped into a relationship I did not want. And because I did feel attracted to boys, although only for a few days, I became a 100% sure I was straight. I just began thinking I wasn’t woman enough, and kept this secret to myself. More troubles came when those relationships evolved from ‘barely romantic’ to something else. I began feeling even emptier.
Fast forward again, from troubles comes tragedy, when I eventually had my first girl crush. How was it possible? I was shocked, confused and in denial. Especially in denial.
At the same time, I felt that something was right and something was wrong. I was split in two. It was right, because I did not feel dirty anymore; it was wrong, because I was straight. And being straight is normal, right? It was neither that I had homophobic parents, friends or relatives; nor that I was homophobic myself, but being straight was, somehow, more normal. Being homosexual meant, at that time, living as a class-B citizen, maybe even disowned by ones family. And I wasn’t ready for that.
Having had crushes on boys, I began thinking that what had happened with that girl was something done in the spur of the moment, just because we were both bored and we had nothing better to do.
Some months later I began thinking maybe I was bisexual, and that was ok because it meant I could still share my future life with a man, like if being bisexual meant being able to avoid same-sex feelings, if needed.
Therefore, I began switching the ‘homosexual button’ off, and kept on dating boys, feeling more lonely as time passed by. All around me there were only happily straight people and I as too afraid to share this secret with anyone else.
I kept on hurting myself up until one summer; it was 2011.
I was in a foreign country, with foreign people who did not know anything about me. For the first time, I had the chance to start anew.
I did not have to pretend anymore, and I was not afraid of disappointing someone I loved because I was feeling different. I wasn’t even afraid of expressing myself, because for the first time I felt I had nothing to lose.
I remember spending the whole summer with this one person in particular, with whom I spent ages talking about anything from life to death, to religion, to philosophy and meditation. Every single day was overwhelming and illuminating, and sharing my opinions with him, who was never judgmental neither towards me nor anyone else, made me feel completely safe in my own shoes. He pushed me into analyzing and accepting my emotions. He understood me, and I felt blessed.
When I came back to my home, I was ready to not feel ashamed anymore. I was ready to embrace my life and start living as a new person, as someone who did not hate herself and was more tolerant towards other people.
What I am trying to say, throughout my story, is that it’s really important to be supportive towards any kind of people, LGBT or not, because anyone could feel different and lost, without knowing why.
It may be sound banal but trust me, if only I had someone who could have told me that feeling different was ok, and that there was a reason why I did not like boys that much, I wouldn’t have felt so empty for more than 18 years. I would have not lived in shame and feared coming out, blaming myself for not being ‘woman’ enough. I would have lived free, happy and more prone to do something good with my life.
And that’s why I am extremely grateful for all the artists, musicians, politicians, and other public figures who are standing up for LGBT rights, giving hope to all those who are like I once was, who (I know for sure) are feeling lonely. You are doing a great job, so please don’t stop!