Inspired by Paul Vitagliano’s book – Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay, I’ve decided to share my own story of growing up gay.

I’m about eight or nine in this photo, it’s Christmas and I’m striking a pose in my Power Rangers pyjamas proudly showing off my new cross puppet. I remember loving to entertain others, being full of confidence and having no inhibitions. I remember being sensitive, caring and sometimes in a world of my own. My mum describes me as a child by saying I was “such a joy to have.”

If you had shown me this photo as a teenager I’d have cringed with embarrassment. By my teen years I’d realised that I was different to others; I became very self-conscious of what my peers thought about me and was hiding my sexuality out of fear of what they’d think, say or do. I also became extremely self-critical of seemingly everything about myself.

Today, I look at this photo and aspire to be like that younger version of myself. I am so thankful that as a child my mum instilled me with confidence to be myself and always made me feel loved. I am still learning and developing as I experience life, but there are many goals I’ve been successful in achieving and the others I’m working towards.

If there are any gay youth who are experiencing what I did in my teens I would encourage them to stay true to who they are, only listen to the opinions of people who truly love you – they will love you for who you are, seek out support (Google: lgbt support) and come out when you’re ready.

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I look at this photo and think: how did my family not know I was gay? The answer is that they did! I was born gay and I wouldn’t be any other way.

Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing up Gay by Paul Vitagliano can be purchased from Amazon.

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