Finding Myself: A Journey to Self-Acceptance
By Juan Londoño - First-Person Experience
March 11th, 2021 at 6:00 P.M. EST.
Growing up in Antioquia, Colombia, empowered me to embark upon a journey to find my identity. I grew up around the beautiful landscapes of the majestic Andes Mountains filled with the white flowers and the cherries from coffee plants. Ciudad Bolívar, a relatively small community where almost everyone's primary source of income is coffee production, allowed me to grow up surrounded by people who care for and help each other. My hometown is very welcoming towards tourists and its people are nice and friendly, yet I always felt insecure and unsure about my place in this world, but I could not decipher why. I knew that something was missing.
Throughout my childhood, I hid something that I feared was true. My town is very Catholic and the word "gay" meant weird, depraved, and a hell-worthy sin; therefore, I convinced myself I was not that kind of person. As I grew up, my sexuality became more evident and the secret harder to deny. I kept feeling like a stranger who did not belong. I convinced myself that I was only going through a phase and that eventually, I would become like everyone else, "normal."
I was fourteen when my parents got divorced and this brought a multitude of changes in my life. My mom decided to move with my brother and me to Miami for a new beginning. Living in the United States opened my eyes to a different reality where gay people are not ostracized and are unapologetic about their identities. Although I knew I could be my true self, I was still scared of what my family would think of me. It wasn't until I turned sixteen that I accepted who I am. My sexuality was still a secret, but in my mind, I finally understood I no longer aspired to be "normal."
I built the courage and decided to share this secret with my mom. I felt uncomfortable and scared of what her reaction might be. Fortunately, my mom embraced my identity and reassured me nothing would change between us. I developed the fear of rejection where I grew up, but things were different now. I understood that fear was stopping me from enjoying my life and affected my relationship with my family. Also, I realized that my mom's love is unconditional, and no matter who I love, she will always love and support me.
Juan Londoño is a second-year student at MDC. He is currently majoring in psychology. After earning his bachelor's degree, He will attend law school and become an immigration attorney. He plans to work for an organization like the American Civil Liberties Union to provide legal services to immigrants who are victims of discrimination, abuse, and illegal removals, guaranteeing their civil rights. This career will combine his passion for helping others and his desire to transform the United States immigration system.
In his spare time, Juan likes to go to the beach, he finds it relaxing and peaceful. He also enjoys going to the movie theater to watch horror movies.
Photo by Gabriela Vilas