You verbally attacked me in a bathroom. I don’t know who you are. Your name and face are unknown to me, but the impact that you made on me could only have been done by someone I shared a connection with. I wish that you could see how much you hurt me.
You created a polarity in my life ― the before and after. Until that day, a few weeks before my 14th birthday, I felt invincible from people like you. I believed that hate would never touch me as long as I was self-confident and loving of my identity. Shame and self-doubt could not exist in my mind. After all, why would they?
I grew up with a family that nurtured and supported me. They always made sure I knew that expressing myself for who I truly am is the best way to live my life. Keeping this mantra in mind, I cut my hair short and abandoned constricting clothing. Truth be told, I was never fond of skin-tight clothes; I thought they were too revealing. The clothes that I started wearing hid me from sight, inexact in what they said about me. I took comfort in the ambiguity that I presented. I was so proud that people could see me how I wanted them to, regardless of what they might have been thinking.
You took that away from me. In the first couple days after it happened, I was not only ashamed that this had happened to me, but that I had let this affect me in such a visceral way. I thought that it would be weak of me if I let your actions get to me because it would reveal that I, despite all of my gay pride grandeur, was afraid.
Now this fear will never leave me. Every time I walk into a public bathroom, I am filled with dread. I’m actually afraid all the time, and for so many people, because I know that people who look like me are more prone to this happening. Every strange look and glare, the snarky whispers only add to the weight that your actions placed on my shoulders.
Sometimes, the shame and fear is almost too much to bear. Yet, I remember who I’m bearing it for. I keep my head up because I know that it does get better. Perhaps not in the way I envisioned it, but nevertheless, things won’t always be this way.
Mary Muromcew is a youth leader and member of The Representation Project’s Global Youth Advisory Council.