Mauricio Bentley

USA + Wisconsin

Mixed up on the Inside

Gay / 17 and Under / Hispanic or Latinx / Catholic

Like many, I knew from a young age that I was ‘different’. I wasn’t fully able to put a finger on what I was feeling: it was like my insides were mixed up and I was being crushed with tremendous weights. I got used to this feeling until one day in fourth grade my friend came up to me and said, “there’s a rumor going around about you and wanted you to know – people are saying you are gay.”

This simple statement shifted my already twisted insides into a tighter knot. This feeling only got worse as I got older and the rumors only grew.

Middle school was constant anxiety. Wondering when I’d be asked “Are you gay?” made my heart beat at a constant 280 bpm. By the time eighth grade neared its end I had become suicidal and depressed. I had enough and came out to a few of my close friends, one of which was my recent ex-girlfriend (yes, I dated girls). Sadly, a portion of those closest to me betrayed my trust and told others in my school, which just fueled the rumors.

My mother was extremely smart and began a family therapy activity in which she gave us each a composition notebook and told us to write anything in it. I of course, reaching the end of my rope, wrote a page telling my mom I was gay. I slipped it under her door and ran off to the bus. I went to school on a cloudy, rainy day feeling my insides moving. I only realized when I got home and read my mom’s letter that my insides weren’t twisting tighter, but were sorting themselves out.

That night, like many others, I sat on my bathroom floor and cried. I wasn’t crying for the same reason as the other nights. That night I looked at my crying mess of a reflection and softly said, “I’m gay.” The weights on my shoulders eased and I could finally breathe. My story might read as if everything was a mostly smooth road, but even after coming out to the most important person in my life at the time I was still bombarded with bigotry and hate.

Just know, if you haven’t come out due to fear, if you came out and weren’t accepted, or even if you came out and everything went perfectly there is a giant community that loves and accepts you.