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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.