I grew up in a small village in Belgium near the border of France. Both of my parents were blue collar workers working in shifts. My great grandmother used to take care of us a lot, especially picking us up from school and looking after us until my parents came home. I don’t remember a lot of that period but I do remember the stories my great grandmother told me when I was a bit older. Her vision wasn’t that good anymore and I pretended not to recognize her when she came to pick us up from school. Instead of going to her at the school gate I stood about until she found me herself. She told me she always believed that I missed my mother and wanted my own mommy to pick me up from school instead of her. My great grandmother was a strong woman to whom I will always look up. She passed away in her nineties when I was 24. The only thing I regret is not visiting her more often.

In primary school, I was bullied a lot, especially by the kids in higher grades, I wasn’t the most sporty one and was quite short for my age and I liked playing with Barbie dolls. Most of my closest friends back then were girls. One of them lived only a few houses away and we used to hang out together a lot. The word ‘faggot’ was probably the word I heard the most. Back then, I can tell you it hurt me a lot and I came home crying quite some times. Kids don’t have thick skin that shields them against these acts and neither do they have a filter to keep them from bullying and hurting other kids. But we didn’t talk a lot about feelings at home so I learned to deal with it on my own. It’s something that I still do, deal with my own stuff, not bother too many friends with it. It can be heavy and get lonely at times but I’m introverted when it comes to this type of stuff. Today I’m often accused of being arrogant because of my reserved nature towards people I don’t know. Although I believe that once people get to know me they can see me differently. I do have a strong character and might not be the easiest person to be with but I would walk through fire to help out a friend.