Hi everyone! My name is Ryan Flores. Like my introduction says, I’m 15 going into my second year of highschool.
A little bit more about me. I’ve lived most of my life in Twin Falls, Idaho. It is a small, fairly religious town. I’m like every other teenager. I like to blend in… but not too much. It was easier when I didn’t have purple hair. When I was little I tried to be like every other kid. I didn’t want to be different, I was perfectly fine being like everyone else. If you looked at me you would think I was like every other little girl. The thing is I wasn’t like every other girl because… I was a boy.
When I was younger I was told that you were born the way you were meant to live and that was that. God made you that way for a reason. You didn’t have other feelings. You were supposed to put on that dress and like it. I just thought this is the way I’m supposed to be, I couldn’t do anything to change it. That was until last year.
Last year I recognized a piece of myself that I had been subconsciously fighting for years. I was a boy.
Initially I remember jumping up and down when I finally knew who I was. Then it dawned on me that it would go against everything I have been told, everything I’ve known. Then I thought, “What would mom say?” I felt immediate denial. I begged myself to reconsider. To simply check again. That could never be me.
I remember having dreams of short hair and a flat chest. I would wake up in complete euphoria just to have the painful reality crash back down. I knew I had to tell someone. I couldn’t take being addressed as someone who just wasn’t me. Countless situations ran through my head. Will I be picked on? Will my friends accept me? Will I be thrown out of my home?
I came out. My “choice” to come out was not a choice. It was life or death. My mom was confused. But she did what any mother would do. She didn’t understand, but she still loved me.
My counselor led me to a local LGBTQ discussion group called PFLAG. I walked in, introduced myself then next thing I know I’m being offered a ride to the next state over for a conference the very next week! And my mother being the protective mom she is said, “Sure, go ahead.”
I had absolutely no idea what I was walking into or that it would be one of the best things in my life. Affirmation gave me and my family hope, to see so many successful people creating a name for themselves while still being able to be true to themselves. In the time where I didn’t know if I could make it another year, Affirmation showed me that I could not only survive but I could thrive.
Attending Affirmation opened so many doors for me. I just wanted people I could relate to, people who had been through what I was going through, people who could tell me I wasn’t crazy. I gained so much support and love from everyone. Affirmation went above and beyond giving me a life saving experience, letting me know that despite what some people say, I belong.
I came out of Affirmation happier than I had been in a long time. It brought light to one of my darkest times of uncertainty. Being able to connect with teens my age and adults, making forever lasting friendships. And being able to widen my knowledge is something everyone should be able to enjoy. In a time when I was so lost, Affirmation led me to the people I call family, for that I am forever grateful.