I remember one day when I was in kindergarten, Santa came to our school and brought us presents. There were two kinds of presents, dolls for girls and cars for boys. I think you can guess which one I wanted… So, all the kids were in line to get their presents. I was so excited… I couldn’t wait for my turn… And then, the tragedy happened. I was in front of this guy dressed up like Santa and he gave me my present… A blue car. 

I was so disappointed. I politely let him know that I wanted a doll and asked if I could have one instead of the car.  I well remember his expression, he was surprised and a bit confused, he just told me « No, boys plays with cars and girls play with dolls ». I cried, because I didn’t understand why I could exchange this toy. I didn’t understand why boys have to play with cars and girls with dolls. It was senseless for me. And it’s still though. 

When I came back home after school, I told what happened to my mother. She smiled at me and told me that if I wanted a doll I could have one. The next weekend we went to a well-known toy store and she bought me one. Then during all my childhood, I never cared to play with boy or girl toys. As for as I was concerned toys were just toys, they didn’t have any gender.  Back then I was this kind of funny and outgoing kid who was never afraid to speak his mind.

Then I grew up I left my childhood behind me and became a teenager. When I started High school, I was a bit afraid. The school was big, there were a lot of students. For the first time in my life I felt lost. I didn’t feel that I could be my true self. 

I try to fit in but I was difficult. All my classmates knew each other for years, they even played football together. They knew each other since kindergarten. 

The first few weeks were a hard. But time did its work. And after a few weeks it was okay. I met other teenagers and we became friends. I won’t say I was popular, but I was a normal teenager who started to « fit in ». 

For two years everything was okay, there were ups and downs. But nothing to worry about. Then things have changed… I started thinking about my sexuality. I liked girls but I started to feel a little something for guys too. I didn’t think I was gay. I thought I was a kind of bi-curious guy. As I didn’t like to play football, most of my friends were girls and I was taking sewing classes because I wanted to become a fashion designer. So, some kids assumed that I might be gay and started to call me names such as « Pédé », « Tapette », etc

They used it as « jokes ». I didn’t really pay attention to it. Then they spread rumor about me… As we say rumors travel faster than the speed of the light. Quickly almost all school was aware of these rumors. Once again, I didn’t really care it but it hurt. Things got worse a few weeks after. It was during our math class, I had a quarrel with one of my friends (I thought she was) and she said it loud so all our classmates could hear it: «I don’t listen to slut like you who blow guys in the park for money ». I was shocked. I couldn’t say a word. Why would she tell such things about me? Why did he want to spread such lies? But the coup de grâce has been made by my math teacher who replied to him and said: « We all know that but it’s not the place to talk about it ». For a few seconds I felt as I was slowly dying. It was like I saw everything in slow motion. It couldn’t be real. She couldn’t say something like this. She was supposed to be the one who should « protect » me and not become a bully. The few following days/weeks were awful…I was afraid, I didn’t want to come back to school. But I didn’t give up because of my friends who never believe in these rumors. I finally stood up and faced the people who spread these lies. Once again time did its job and the rumors faded by itself. 

But I still had all these questions about my sexuality. I was too afraid if I admitted that I might be bisexual or gay it would give credit to all these past rumors. So for a while I kept it for myself, I dealt with it alone.

Finally, after a few months I spoke with some of my close friends. It was a relief. I finally could open myself so these friends. They were there for me and helped me find the replies to my questions without any judgement but with a lot of kindness. After high school I went to study fashion design in Brussels. At the time I know for sure that I was gay. As I was studying in a new school in a new city. I really wanted to be my truly self. But I was too afraid. I was afraid of what the other students will think of me. I was afraid that rumors will spread all over again. I think I was still sort of traumatized by the experience I had before. So, when I discussed with other students I always avoided to speak about my love life. When ask they ask me directly if I had a girlfriend or a boyfriend, I used to reply that I didn’t see someone. I always avoided to use a gender. It has been like that for almost 2 years. Then one day, I said stop.

I was sick of hiding and worrying about what people might think of me. I said to myself: « Fuck it, you only live once. You should embrace yourself. You should be proud of who you are. You should be real, you should be you! ». I came out to my best friends, to my friends from school, to my family. I was out and proud.  It was a real relief to finally be able to be who I really was. 

Since that day I’ve never been ashamed of who I am. I finally don’t care about fitting in anymore. I unlock this part of me that dare to speak its mind. When I was a teenager I always wanted to take dance classes but I was too afraid of what people would think. Now I don’t care anymore I took 8 classes per week and I really enjoyed it. My past made the grown-up man I’m today. I’m much stronger than I used to be, I’m much more resilient. My mantra is « Feel the fear and do it anyway ». Because life is too short and too beautiful to let people tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.