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Hannah Rocca

I was raised on Disney animated movies.

The allure of the ornate outfits and cuddly animal sidekicks had me rewinding my family’s VHS

player far past my bedtime.

It became a Saturday ritual to don a princess dress, sit in front of my family’s box TV, and

immerse in the magic as if swimming in it.

Soon, though, and paid more attention to one princessly possession that I had yet to obtain; a

boy. It was the one thing that every princess had and I didn’t. And of course, I needed to find my

prince to secure my pseudo princess status.

The simultaneous prevalence and absence of romance in my life was a practical joke whose

punchline I didn’t understand.

When pursued by boys, the stir inside of me was of discomfort and not excited anticipation.

By the age of eight, I decided I was too picky. I elected a new crush every few months.

In the third grade, I kissed a boy’s cheek for the first time.

Kissing him was like finishing an overdue homework assignment; satisfying because it is over

with.

I would often ask myself, “When will this start to feel magical?”

The answer to that question came in the sixth grade, in the form of a funny, athletic, and

charismatic girl.

The answer spoke to me and I stuttered uncontrollably.

The answer looked at me and I was more self-conscious than ever.

And yet, she was a girl.

It hadn’t been long, at this point, since I learned what it meant to be gay. I had reacted with

disgust at the discovery.

Why, I thought, would two people challenge the picturesque?

Why disregard tradition for something that

My distress peaked as I found the answers to those questions in my own mind, in moments of

bashfulness and admiration.

To prove my heterosexuality, I raided my bookshelf, searching for anything with an inkling of

romance in it.

My symptoms matched with the characters’;

my tightening throat,

quickening heart rate

and inability to look away.

Memories of failed romantic endeavours were recontextualized. Once undeniable, I, acting as

doctor and patient, diagnosed myself with a gay crush.

Despite the formidable support I received upon coming out, I felt awkward;

like I was inconveniencing people by being who I was.

Alongside to the support I received a slew of invasive questions and presumptive comments.

From girls, “You don’t have a crush on me, do you?”

If you are the kind of person to ask if I have a crush on you based solely on the fact that I am

gay, I do not have a crush on you.

I could tell you that there were nights that I had long, one-sided chats with God, begging him to

change me and wondering why he wasn’t answering.

I could tell you that other nights, I was a vessel of self-loathing and guilt. I tried to jump out of

my own mind, but every escape attempt ended with the inevitable standing over me, victorious.

I could tell you that sometimes,

I wish I wasn’t gay, too.

But, to maintain a facade of social ease, I will smile and say “Don’t worry. You're not my type.”

What am I to do when girls would then respond with offense to the information they were hoping

I’d provide?

“What do you mean ‘you’re not my type’?” are often the words that lead to an endless cycle of

misunderstanding

which always concludes with me playing the part of the rude bitch or the disgusting perverted

lesbian.

Boys, on the other hand, have been more straightforward with their opinion on my orientation.

“That’s hot,”

They say.

“Can I watch?”

They say.

Yes. You can watch.

Watch as I weigh the pros and cons of coming out to someone.

Watch the colour drain from their face as I say the dreaded G-word, then look down at their

hands, unsure of what to say.

See how reactions range from celebratory to condescending to horrified.

A summer camp roommate tries to start a round of applause.

A friend of a friend laugh as though I’ve just told a joke, then tells me, “No, you’re not.”

A mother of two takes a step away, and asks me in a hushed voice if I am a pedophile.

Watch.

Maybe then, you’ll have a bit more empathy for me.

There is one person with whom I had to choose between their love and being my authentic self.

Packed in her suitcase alongside a one way plane ticket to Canada, my Abuelita carries with her

the conservative ideals of Spanish Catholicism.

It is easy to say to say that all homophobes are horrible people when none of them make you

cookies, say they love you, or call you the most beautiful girl in the world.

So, my grandmother will die believing I am someone I am not.

Microaggressions, awkward interactions and [prejudice aside, I attended my first Pride Parade

last August.

Streaks of rainbow donned the sky as I marched with people like me.

During the drive home, I looked out the window. Through the mist of a brief, post-parade rain, a

rainbow loomed in the white sky.

To those still in the closet; it gets better. You will find a way to make it better. To anyone who

ignores science, sociological evolution and the premise that love is love; you are losing the

battle. The LGBT community is not a passing phase. I am not temporary, nor am I invalid.

I am a new kind of Disney princess, and my fairy tale has begun.