“An open letter to Kevin Truong.
Dear Kevin Truong, my name is Alberto and I am 23 years old. I am not from an English speaking country (nor reside in one either), and to give you a more specific clue, I think we invented the word macho.
I am writing to you because I read about your experience as a gay man, and The Gay Men Project on hello mr. magazine. I think I am one of only two mexicans that supported the project; one that deserves great recognition, as your own.
I have always liked writing, there are very few things I enjoy the same way, and in the process, I have written my own story. I think the first time was in 2009, three years after coming out to my parents, 10 years after coming out to myself. I did it in an innocent project that tries, as yours in a way, to inspire young people. The project is called I’m From Driftwood. If you look for mexican entries, you will find less than ten, but I do not think that says anything about being gay in our country, rather than the fact that these kind of projects have no strength here. Or maybe there is a complete lack of interest.
I do not write with the intension of being a role model, or an inspiration, I do it because I am proud of the person I have become. And as I said before, I like writing.
When I was in the 5th grade, I met a boy (whose real name I will not reveal) named Charlie. He was annoyingly perfect. The white smile, tall, fit and with that curly hair that is not disturbing to watch. He was also very popular, of course. All happened one day after school, I was walking to the gate as usual to meet my mother, and he was there, just standing with some other boys laughing and smiling. I remember that day so clearly. When I saw him I stopped and stood next to a pillar, watching him. After that day, I did the impossible to become his friend, and it sort of worked out because we did become friends, but not very close ones. Still, I was satisfied. At the beginning I did not know anything about homosexuality, I just accepted it as what I liked. I said to myself: I do not like girls and that is it. Of course, a yellow warning light popped up and I kept it a secret. With a little Internet research I found a name for it: I was gay. I tried to tell my best friend when we were in the 6th grade but the word faggot was already part of some boys vocabulary, so I decided not to. Anyway, I thought, middle school is coming and I will not be around these beasts anymore.
I changed to an upscale middle school, along four of my previous classmates, Charlie being one of them. But, by the end of the first partials he was old history. In middle school I met another boy, a blonde, blue eyes boy that had me going crazy. I had a huge crush on him and hey, it was the 7th grade! everything was possible. I thought those new classmates and friends were educated, somehow more tolerant and open to my difference. Turns out, they were not. Nevertheless, I cannot say everybody was a monster to me, there were a couple of straight guys who said to me: I do not care if you are gay, you are my friend. And we still are. But coming back to the rest, they made my middle school a living hell, including the blonde guy. I recognize it was fool of me telling people I did not know that well, but they did not have the right to say and do what the said and did. Faggot was a daily word, and the break between classes was a horrible experience hiding from everybody. Some older guys used to hit me every morning, and I ate behind the bathrooms for more than two years. Many thoughts crossed my mind, but I did not do anything. It did not matter how much I pled to my teachers, they did not listen. So when the time came and middle school was over, I felt happy. I changed immediately to another high school far from my classmates, to realize that the new one was exactly the same. The rumor had spread and a new familiar cycle started, so I said to myself: You better go back to what you know, and I started high school with all my classmates from middle school.
The two months of vacation were over and I started high school with a loneliness and fear I cannot describe. By the time high school began, my mother had sent me to a psychiatrist because I was always alone. My mother thought I was an antisocial boy, but the truth was nobody wanted to be with me. To my surprise, high school was nothing like I imagined. No one cared anymore if I was gay or not. The bullies disappeared, and people started talking to me. I cannot explain it to this day, but the change was unbelievable… magical. I had a blast in high school. I made some of my best friends, and all the pain from middle school disappeared with all the laughs of high school. But I was still in the closet with my family. I still felt the burden on my shoulders. So when I was in the 11th grade I decided to tell my parents with my final art project. We had an art exhibit in school, and each piece had to be personal. My art teacher helped me a lot trough the process, and encouraged me to tell my parents. And I did. They were worried at the beginning because I started crying, and as they were asking me what is wrong?, I counted one… two… three… and said: I am gay. My dad’s face changed from worried to angry, and my mom started crying. We went to our house and had a long conversation in the kitchen. I even gave a pamphlet to my dad on How to understand your gay kids, but he tore it in front of me. They sent me to a psychologist specialized in sexuality, that luckily told them, at the end of our sessions: deal with it, you son is gay.
I cannot say everything is well, now. We do not talk about it, but they know where I stand, and they respect my choice, as I respect their space and time to deal with it.
I am happy with all my choices, and I would not change any of them, because I am the result of all of them. I have not fallen in love, and I have not met someone interesting enough to go the extra mile, but I am happy. This is what I chose, and I stand by it.