I remember being in grade school and I was always hanging with my girlfriends and I would tell them like, "Oh, that guy is kinda cute." They weren't like, "Oh my God, he's gay," they were like, "Oh my God, he's cool. He thinks guys are cute, too. Yay!"

I'm a 16 year-old cis-gender male and I identify as gay. I'm from New Orleans, but I moved to Baton Rouge after Katrina. I came back to New Orleans in seventh grade and I just blossomed into a new flower. It was a fresh start. I told all my close friends and everyone I went to school with, "Yeah, I'm gay. What are you gonna do?" They were basically like, "I knew it," and I'm just like, "Thank you!" I'm making it sound easy, but it actually wasn't that easy. 

First off, I haven't told anyone in my family. My parents are both really cool - they're not strict and they trust me - but I don't know how they would react and I'm afraid of rejection. So I don't think I'll tell them until I'm ready to move out. I'll be like, "I'm gay, parents," and they're just gonna be like, "I knew that." I think they know and don't wanna bombard me with questions so they're just thinking like, "OK, I'm just going to let him be until he tells me." I respect that.

Secondly, I've been bullied. Quite a bit, actually. In elementary school, boys would call me fag and gay all until my sixth grade year. I got in a fight with a kid when I was 8 because he called me al kinds of things. I also had a fourth grade teacher that would call me a sissy and tell me to "stop acting like a little girl - you're a boy," and he'd always get me in trouble. So yeah, definitely not easy. 

I also had a fourth grade teacher who would call me a sissy and tell me “stop acting like a little girl - you’re a boy.”

I always felt like a reject or just like I wasn't good enough. I was like a popular kid, but there were those few that would bully me and make me feel like crap every day. So in sixth grade, I became the bully. I was the one bullying the bullies. I would stand up for other kids who were "rejects" or "nerds," anyone who was being picked on. But that still made me a bully, and two wrongs don't make a right. So my coping mechanism made me feel even crappier.

Luckily I had one really good teacher that I could talk to about everything. I love her and hope to see her again one day. If I cried, she was there. If I got bullied, she was there. If I was pulled out of class or lunch, she was there for me always. But I graduated out of her class by fourth grade and I was on my own again with my problems. There was no assistance for bullying, either. I don't remember a counselor at my school. And even if there was, I don't remember them making a huge impact on my life because I don't remember them.

As soon as sixth grade ended, I decided I had to fix this myself. We were moving back to New Orleans and I saw a clean slate. It was time for a fresh start. My grades could change, I could do well in school, and since no one knew me, I could be my authentic self. And that's what I did.

I bullied him because of what I’ve been through as a kid and me bring so depressed and feeling all these bad anger issues. The teacher who bullied me, I took that and developed it and turned it on someone else.

Last year I had a rude awakening. I came into contact with someone I went to school with in 6th grade and found out he hated me. I didn't understand why and I asked what was wrong. He said I bullied him the whole sixth grade year, and then I left and other people started bullying him, too. He said i would push him into lockers, skip him on purpose in the lunch line, and call him names. I felt horrible. I told him I'm not that person anymore and I feel really bad and nothing could justify what I did, but I'm sorry. He eventually accepted my apology and we're actually friends now, but it really put things in perspective for me. So now I aspire to inspire before I expire. I want to inspire everyone to do what they want and not be scared that they are going to be judged for it. What I want to do is become a I want to be the next Paul Mitchell! And I also want to be a psychologist. OK, so I have a lot of things I'm planning, but I don't know what exact path I want to take yet. But I'm OK with that as long as I'm authentically me.