I’m From Rochelle, IL.

by Aaron Sanford

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

I always knew that I was different. I grew up with a love for the arts, and not sports like my older brothers loved. One day I was walking down the hallway in junior high and was called gay. I didn’t truly know why it hurt me, but it did.

As the years passed I was picked on constantly about being gay. My gym uniform was stolen from my locker, I was pushed up against lockers, had nasty notes taped to my locker but the words were what hurt the most.

The most painful moment was when my family was asked to leave the church that I had been to every Sunday since I was born. I don’t know all the circumstances, but I over heard two women talking about me being gay one day and that it wasn’t “God’s plan.” These women were people that I respected and loved like family. The worst part of it, I had never come out to anyone and had not even admitted it to myself.

I had a guy that I had been hanging out with and “dating” for lack of a better word, but I still refused to admit that I was different. To me it was just a phase.

I remember being home one afternoon and thinking that the taunting would never stop and that I should just kill myself and end it. I walked into the kitchen and picked up a knife. The phone rang at that moment and I stopped and answered. I don’t remember who it was, but I don’t know what would have happened if that call hadn’t interrupted me.

I decided that I was going to admit my feelings when I got out of high school to my roommate in college. He was an eagle scout, so I was worried, but he told me that I was just a person that deserved respect.

I recently went to my 10-year high school reunion. I didn’t know how it was going to go, but I felt so accepted by people who bullied and picked on me through school. This helped me to feel proud of who I am and helped to heal some wounds that had hurt for almost 10 years. I am out and proud and a stronger person because of everything that I have gone through.

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