My name is Dario Beck Torres, and I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
So I grew up in a fairly religious environment. I remember one time being pulled aside by this lady. I didn’t know who she was. She sat me on her lap, looked me in my eye, and told me to not change who I was for anybody. I didn’t know why out of all the kids she chose me, but whatever the reason was, she did.
So that entire time throughout my middle school, high school was a really tough time for me. I was getting a lot of pressure from my community around me to be more masculine, as well as pressure to fit in.
I was also dealing with the discovery that I may be queer, and not really having the tools in place to understand how to process that.
And so I signed up for my high school wrestling team to prove that I was like the other kids… that I was masculine, strong, and could just be like everyone else.
So on the way to lunch, a teammate of mine stopped me and said, “Don’t eat today,” in order to make weight for a match that was coming up. I was obviously hungry, and so I ate. I didn’t listen to this guy.
And the next day comes around, we’re in the locker room, we go to the scale. I step on first, and I’m 145.5 pounds, which – in wrestling, there are different brackets of weight. And I was 0.5 pounds over the weight that I was assigned to wrestle.
After we realized that we were both slightly overweight, my teammate and I went into the restroom. Where he went in and purged, came out, gave me a slap on the butt and some words of encouragement, and I was next. On one hand, I was aroused. I’m like, This is pretty cool. I like this attention, affection. But then on the other hand, I knew that this behavior wasn’t healthy or sustainable. And so I went in and purged to make weight for that match. And didn’t feel great after, but also was slightly intrigued.
So that same year I had a girlfriend, and our feelings for each other progressed over time. We had unprotected sex in the back of a friend’s truck, which is not romantic at all. And I remember after, being in my room, laying in my bed, and just having this awful pit feeling in my stomach that she was going to be pregnant. I would have a kid, I would have to marry her, and this would just be the start of a life that I didn’t want to live.
And so her time of the month came. I was super excited. I wasn’t going to be a dad, wasn’t ready to be a dad. And in that moment I also realized that my life was kind of a mess. I was not eating healthy, had bad habits, and dating women. Doing all these things for other people that I thought I was supposed to do, but not really listening and being true to myself.
I got accepted into college and moved to Las Vegas, and got exposed to many different ways and styles of living, especially queer representation. I remember being at my first gay bar, and just seeing these men and women just happily existing. And to see that lived, in reality and in person, showed me that I could just be myself. And that was enough. And in that moment, it took me back to that lady telling me not to change who I was for anybody.
In that moment, it took me back to that lady telling me not to change who I was for anybody.
So fast-forward to present moment, and I’m still very active. That manifests in, I’ve joined a queer kickball league, which is a sport that I never played when I was a kid. But what’s great about it is that there are tons of queer people that accept you for being different. All body types, all athletic abilities coming together to have fun. I of course still get slaps on the butt, but now it’s for encouragement and doing good, and not doing things that are unhealthy.
I am fortunate enough to have a good job that allows me to live comfortably, a great community of friends that support me in everything that I do. And I’ve experienced the best kind of love that one can experience, and that is self-love.
I hope that through my experiences, someone watching will remember to listen to that inner voice that says, this is not me. And to be comfortable with listening to it, and taking steps to live their truth more and more each day.