Adam G. wears shade "Prom Queen."
I think people who know me may be shocked to hear that the confidence I express in the way I dress and present myself isn't something I've known for very long. In fact, my relationship with true authenticity is a relatively new one.
I believe that a lot people, both gay and straight, don't realize that those of us who stray away from "typical" forms of self-expression have overcome many internal and external obstacles to be comfortable enough to do so. This is especially true for queer people, as we must consciously accept the fact that our reality isn't what's expected of us.
We must experience internalizing and reflecting upon the anti-gay jokes and phrases that the heteronormative society we exist in accepts as commonplace. It's only once we have faced those hurdles, and many others, that we can begin to proactively work towards achieving a mindset where we don't allow others to influence how we act or view ourselves subconsciously.
When I came out of the closet at 12 years old, I genuinely believed I'd embraced everything about being gay. The fact is, however, that for the next several years I would internalize the homophobia that had been projected upon me for as long as I can remember.
Whether it was my godmother's boyfriend teasing me about playing with dolls, my 4th grade teacher attempting to force friendships between me and other boys in my class as she was "concerned" for my development, or the pastor at my grandmother’s church warning me at 14 years old that I must "deny my sexuality" if I ever wanted to be accepted by God; for some reason adults seemed so intent on proving to me, a child who enjoyed dressing up in tiaras and high heels, that I could never be the person I wanted to be and find happiness in doing so.
By the time I reached 18 years old, I was drowning in an ocean of self-hate so deep that I was doing anything and everything to distract myself from the pain. All the highs and lows I chased in a desperate attempt to feel something authentic…nothing compared to what I felt when I finally let myself free from the restraints I had unknowingly placed upon myself all these years. I vividly remember, after much internal debate, finally allowing myself to put on a full face of makeup for the first time. That look — complete with poorly over-lined lips and tragically unblended peach eyeshadow — truly opened a world of possibilities for me.
I would be lying if I said I have everything figured out now. What I have learned, however, is that I will never shrink myself to fit into a box that society deems "valid" ever again. Everything I feel is valid. My identity is valid. I deserve to explore the things that interest me uninfluenced by fear of loved ones and/or peers not understanding. There will always be people who don't understand me — hell, sometimes I don't even understand myself.
Nevertheless, every day I learn more about my spirit and what I want to put out into the universe. I can confidently say that I am beginning to find the internal peace I have so desperately craved my entire life, and it has all come from living as authentically as I possibly can every single day.