Patrick from the Netherlands

I’ve always been a theatrical and energetic kid. As far as my parents can remember, I was always dancing, running around and putting on shows for them. I would lip-sync and dance to my favorite songs, I would dress up as a girl and perform my best rendition of video clips, I would create my own plays and I would dance at every party until I fell asleep.

My parents gave me all the freedom to discover myself and they were supportive of everything I did, as long as I wasn’t bothering anyone.

I think my childhood was a sign of what I would become in the future: An energetic, gay performer with a fondness for playing adventure video games. I’ve always liked the contrast in my interests and my personality.

In my teenage years my body began to change. Like every boy, I grew some facial hair to the point where shaving was necessary. The hair was not only growing on my face, but also in other places. In the locker rooms I would compare myself to the other boys and discover that some of them grew more hair or hair in places where I didn’t grow it. I would also compare other things like: Muscle development, body length, shoe size, pimples and also dick size. I was obsessed with staring at the crotches of other boys, even during lunch break I was always looking at how large the other boys’ ‘package’ was. It made me insecure that I lacked in this department, so I thought I was just fascinated by other boys. As I grew older, I discovered it wasn’t just fascination, but also sexual attraction.

Coming out was not a real problem for me. I was actively involved in all the creative activities at school, including the plays for Easter, Christmas and the big Musical at the end of the school year. There was one older guy I admired, because he could sing beautifully: He was my idol and I wanted to get closer to him. Of course, he didn’t even want to talk to me and he and his buddies clearly told me to buzz off. I was sad, but I didn’t really know why exactly. A few years later I discovered why I was so interested in the guy. He was talking to his buddies about being gay and suddenly I thought: Could I be gay? In a few hours I told my friends at school that I was in love with this guy and when they asked me if I was gay, I said: “I think so”.

That year I brought home the first report card to my parents, but I had been busy with all the new feelings and my grades had dropped a little. My parents asked me what was going on, but I got angry and stormed off to my room. Later on my mother came inside and asked me: “You can tell me… is it about love?” I nodded but kept silent. She continued: “Are you in love with a boy?” I nodded again. Then she asked: “Should I tell your father?” I said that I didn’t want that yet. She said: “Okay, well don’t worry. Everything will be alright, I love you!” I was left confused, but the weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was pulled out of the closet by my own mother and she was really accepting. Half a year later I told my father and he just said: “It’s your life, do whatever you want. But if someone is bothering you, tell me!” In hindsight this was exactly the reaction I could have expected from both and I am still blessed for this.

I decided that I wanted to make dancing and performing my profession and started auditioning for Dance Academies. I got admitted to one of the most well-known Academies in The Netherlands, but my road was long and hard; I just wasn’t ready. It could have been my lack of experience due to not taking up dancing sooner. It made me insecure and my body weight would fluctuate enormously as a result of stress eating. Teachers would say I should watch my weight and they would also say that I didn’t have the discipline to finish this education. It became a struggle…

In my fourth year at the Academy, my grandma passed away. She was always like a second mother to me and would support me with everything. I promised myself I would finish the education for her and eventually I got my degree as a dance teacher and performer. The director even said that I was an example for other students, despite of my struggle at the Academy, I had learned the most of all people he had seen throughout the years. I was so proud of myself.

But then I was thrust into the dancer work field.

The work field was a battlefield for me: I was still insecure about my skills as a dancer and performer and my body issues were still present. I was auditioning with guys that looked like they lived at a gym or guys that looked like they only ate salad. I felt ugly, fat and out of shape and it was influencing my capabilities: I was (again) not ready. Even after landing a spot in the ensemble of a big musical and performing more than 250 shows, I still felt not good enough. I was never skinny and I never had a six-pack, but I wanted to love my body again.

I also had a goal for myself: Do a nude photoshoot. In a short period, I turned my life upside down and when the time came for the shoot, I was ready! As a result, I have done more then 15 (nude) photoshoots in a half years’ time and I love seeing the progress and different works of art the photographers create. I still have minor issues with my body, but I started loving it too. As long as you know that not everybody is the same, that’s a good start.

I really want everyone to know that you should focus on the beauty of your own body. Don’t believe everything you see on Social Media or in Advertisements! But know that every person has flaws: Stretch-marks, pimples, acne, dark spots, shaving rash, etc. That makes you human. Everyone has beauty in their selves, you just need to see it for yourself.