Jess, 23.

I live a fortunate life, one that is admired by many. Filled with an astonishing amount of love and support, my life has now become the stuff of my adolescent fantasies. I grew up in a small, yet geographically large city in Northern Ontario where the people are kind, granted the majority’s ideologies were and continue to be problematic. The views on homosexuality are generally negative ones and unfortunately for me, my father had those same views. I was fifteen, driving to work with my mother when she suddenly began to cry and asked me what was wrong (little did I know that a few close family members had asked the same question). After hours of struggling to tell her what was wrong, feeling like I was going to throw-up, I told her I was gay. She took my hand and assured me that everything would be ok, that she would be there every step of the way, as she was. At the time, I was scared of the repercussions that would follow this big announcement. I was fearful of my father, my stepmother and the rejection that I might face. With this understanding, the immediate rejection I did receive from them was one I had prepared myself for. Months passed and mom stayed by while my father and stepmother tried to keep me quiet, kick me out, and tell me that who I am is only a phase. It was spring; a year-and-a-half later, and things were slowly getting better. I told a few of my friends that I was gay but I was still ‘in the closet’ due to the damaged relationship between my father and I. Summer came and I decided that I was no longer going to stay quiet, I had to be myself. After coming out and receiving a shocking amount of support, it was then up to my father to decide whether or not he wanted to be a part of my life. Since then, our relationship has become better than ever, but this took time. I forgive him for the things he said and the struggles he created for me, although I will never forget. I now live a beautiful life in Toronto, with the man of my dreams in a city that embraces me for all that I am. I couldn’t dream of anything more for myself. What I can dream for however is that any teen facing these challenges can be self-assured and steer their way down the path they choose, without letting anyone tell them they can’t.



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