When you here a single story you build up a stereotype off of that. When you don’t hear or see any other story you rely on that initial stereotype. Even if we don’t mean to it is human nature to preserve ourselves to build up stereotypes. However, when that is presented into the world we live in stereotypes can be very detrimental. I am not perfect and I built up stereotypes off of single stories. Including stereotypes of different communities I belong to. This is the story of my initial stereotype of what “being gay” is and how it shaped me.

Growing up in the late nineties/early two thousands I didn’t really have any gay icons. I mean there was Britney, Christina, and Beyonce but they weren’t a gay man to look up to. Now there is little old me thirteen years old feeling different from my family because I had strange feelings towards the same sex. Then came the movie Mean Girls. This movie changed a lot for me. One I thought high school was going to be that drama filled and excited with the animal like scenes. Boy was I wrong with that one. Then came the character of Damian. Here came this tall, loud, and flamboyant character. He was “too gay to function”. He loved pink. He knew pop culture reference. He was in your face. He was full of the drama. Was that me? Was that how I was supposed to act? I didn’t know who I was at the time so I started to act like. In doing so I warranted a lot of bullies and rude comments. Water was thrown on me, hands hit me, and words tore my skin. I saw this single story of what “being gay” was, ran with it, and it got me nowhere.

Time passed, wounds healed, and scars faded. I expanded my knowledge and views on the LGBTQ+ world. I learned that I don’t have to be Damian. I don’t have to be Will or Harvey Milk or Neil Patrick Harris. What I had to be was myself. I had to love and trust in myself. I learned that I am enough and that is all that truly matters. We don’t need to be any of the stories that we see. We can look up to these characters, but to use these single stories to live our lives by can erase your own individuality and that’s not OK. You are enough just the way you are.

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