Column: Turning hate to love

‘Self acceptance isn’t simple, much less when you’re constantly surrounded by people who don’t accept you, either.’

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Anna Velazquez

"Label it however you want to, but I am proud of who I am."

“You’re not my daughter.”

Those words ring in my head over and over again, each time with an extra sting to them. My hands shake and I feel a sharp pain in my heart as tears cloud my vision. I try my best to hold them back but the emotions are overwhelming and I can’t.

Anger.

Sadness.

And most of all, betrayal.

You never expect to hear those words come out of your loved one’s mouth, especially not the person who raised you and is supposed to love you unconditionally.



Raised in a Catholic household, I was always told marriage was between a man and a woman, nothing else. When middle school came around and I started noticing my interest in girls, I became worried.

It had been drilled into my head that same-sex realtionships were unnatural and repulsing. I constantly heard it from my family and at church, a place that was supposed to make me feel accepted. I thought everything I had heard was the truth and I began to think that my feelings were wrong. I needed to push those feelings down and silence them in order to be the good Catholic daughter my parents were raising me to be.

I felt disgusting. How could I feel this way? Why do I feel this way?

I never received answers to those questions but from that point forward, I changed every aspect of myself. I went as far as forcing myself to date a boy, which turned out to be one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. My wardrobe went from comfy pants and big T-shirts to dresses and skirts. It didn’t feel like me, but I continued to dress this way for two years because I thought it would make me straight.

News flash; it didn’t work.



Two years went by and I still couldn’t rid myself of my attraction to girls. I spent a lot of nights crying because I felt like an abomination, but I was sick of not being my true self. All this information about homosexuality being wrong was false. I realized homosexual relationships are as natural as heterosexual relationships and shouldn’t be frowned upon.

The values I was taught were all opinions based on religion, not facts. Despite the possible consequences, I’ve chosen to stop caring what others think and simply be myself. I understand not everyone is going to accept me and I might struggle with accepting myself but there’s nothing strange or wrong about it. Even though I know the people closest to me will not like it, I am not going to change.

Self-acceptance isn’t simple, much less when you’re constantly surrounded by people who don’t accept you either. It’s a constant battle and some days are harder than others, but that’s OK.

I tried to fight my sexuality off for so many years, telling myself it was immoral and wrong to like the same gender, but I’ve come to the realization that there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m gay. I’m a lesbian. I’m a homosexual. Label it however you want to, but I am proud of who I am.

I don’t need anyone else’s validation.