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[coming out stories]

High School Student, Miami, FL
October 11, 1997

My name is Pablo but my friends call me Paulie. Since I was small, I always knew I am different than other people.

When I was six years old, I told my mom that I knew I am not like other people. And she told me that of course, I am not. "You are Pablo.. my very handsome, sweet, unique and special boy!" Of course, mothers always say that. I don't think that either of us really knew what I meant at that time. It was just something that I felt so deep inside of me, but didn't have a name for what it was. I knew it was not because I am hard of hearing.

Last summer, just before I turned 16, I met Mark. I fell in love with him instantly and finally realized what was in front of my nose all along. I knew right then what it was about me that was different. I think maybe I have always known but didn't want to face it. No one wants to be too different.

This year, I have begun to tell my friends about who I am. Most have been very supportive. I have lost a few friends and realize maybe they were never really my real friends to start with. I'm still the same person I've always been, and I remind people of this. It is me, the same Paulie, only now I have discovered a new special part of myself. I am not ashamed. I did not chose to be this way, it is just who I am.

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