Arriving December 15th
Volume #2 Stand-Up
Seeing all the latest movements with abortion and the shifting politics that are putting all the progress at risk that we, and generations before, had worked so hard for reminds me of the importance of stand-up.
My standing-up experience dates back to between the age of 14 to 16, when I tried to commit suicide three times. After my third attempt, I ended up in a psychiatric hospital for over a week and a regilous conversion camp.
After being released, I said, "I love who I am, and from now on, I am gonna stand-up for myself."
I was at the airport to board a flight from Puerto Rico to Maryland to stay with my aunt, and before boarding, I gave my parents an envelope. With over 100 pages containing LGBTQ testimonies, theories, research, and experiences from parents who lost their kids for not supporting them.
I had thought this was the first step to stand-up to my parents and make it clear that if they wanted to continue to be part of my life, they must love me for who I am and not for a version of what a son should be for them.
As I returned to Puerto Rico, it seemed like slow progress was made, yet not enough to feel comfortable living with my parents as a proud and openly gay person. I thought they could only control my life if I depended on them. So I moved to the capital, San Juan, at 16 years old. I finished high school at night with adults so I could work during the day to support myself while working on a radio show, acting, and doing multiple other projects. I was following my heart and living the life I wanted to. Things became much more difficult when I slept in my car for about two months. I would pick up a political party's signature so they could pay me a dollar per signature so I could buy myself some food. But due to poor nutrition, I ended up in the hospital rather than returning home.
After struggling this much, I still managed to get into university. After being homeless for a while, crashing at numerous friends, and sleeping in parking lots at malls, I finally had my own room at the university's residency. The night before, I crashed with a friend, and my car got broken into; everything I had was stolen. I am crying as I write this because I remember my mom coming to see me and asking me to show her my room, and I did. When she opened the closet and saw it empty, she asked what had happened, so I told her the truth.
As she cried, she asked why I didn't come home. I said, "because I have to stand-up for myself, I won't return to a place where I am not respected for who I am." She held me and cried, blaming herself for what I had gone through. The world was difficult for me, and she made it even harder.
After that, she started to look for help, therapy, and psychology. I gave her the space to change and forgave her because when she was in her 20s, she lost my older brother to cancer and a friend to HIV/AIDS. The fear of losing me compelled her to try and change me while unconsciously hurting me.
We buried that past and never talked about it. She became my best friend. I don't regret anything that happened. It taught me to be authentic, become stronger, and stand for what I believe in.
The day I stood-up for myself was when I became powerful. With this Kraven Magazine volume, I hope to inspire others to stand up for themselves.
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