Outspoken: Gabriel Leitner

If this could help one young gay person, that is all the payment I would need. —Gabriel Leitner

BY

December 19 2005 1:00 AM ET

For years, I lied
to those I cared for the most. I could not bring myself
to tell them what I perceived to be the horrible truth.

I always knew I
was different. I didn’t act like the boys I grew up
with. My brothers were typical all-Americans. I, on
the other hand, felt much more comfortable around
females, doing the things that they did. For me,
normalcy was playing dress-up in my mother’s clothes.

As I grew up I
was berated and called names like “faggot,”
“queer,” or “sissy.” It
hurt, but I internalized the pain. I became somewhat of a
bully. I believed that if someone felt as bad as I did, then
that would make it better.

This was one of
the most confusing times in my life, and it only got
worse. Puberty hit, and it got harder to be around other
boys, especially the ones to whom I was attracted. I
withdrew deeper into myself, so afraid of
disappointing those I cared for and of not being accepted.

After some time I
did what any normal teenager would do—I rebelled. I
rebelled against what I was taught growing up: the dogmatic
principles of the Catholic faith. I rebelled against
my family. I smoked marijuana, drank, and became
promiscuous. I was on a path of self-destruction.

Eventually, the
lie became too much. Whenever I was around my family,
something inside me would scream to be let out. I started by
admitting to myself that I was gay. I slowly began to
realize that it mattered not what others thought. All
that mattered was that I was myself and that I was
happy. Little by little I began to tell those around me,
expecting the worst but getting the best. As I was
shown acceptance, my confidence grew. I became more of
the person I wanted to be and should have been.

Now, when asked
whom I admire most, I always say, “Gabriel
Leitner,” for I am my biggest role model.
Greatness is not measured by how much you have but by
the ability to discern the truth.

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