Growing up gay can seem tough, but your real friends will stick by you.
I had an odd experience in school; it was neither bad nor good - more just challenging.
Growing up in a school in an area where school robberies, fights and occasionally knife crime would take place, coming out or being myself was the last thing on my list.
I never had the courage, support or encouragement to be anything other than what people thought I was: a straight teenage boy. There were frequent jokes about the way I walked or talked and the fact most of my friends were girls. It was clear that it was safer to keep being gay hidden away. That who I was would be too much of a burden on my school experience. So I stayed hidden.
Being gay, I don’t recall there ever being anything at school I could relate. I was never taught about who I was or how to ‘deal’ with it so I found myself living a lie. Very often I feel so deeply into this lie that I almost started to believe it.
Denying who I was might help me stay a bit more popular. A school that acknowledged this struggle would have been a great place to start. I yearned for support or someone to turn to -at the time I didn't think I could speak to my family. Having nowhere to go, and no one to turn to, I spiralled into an inevitable depression, which led me to dislike who I was. In fact, I didn’t know who I was.
Moving to college helped change things. I was certainly a lot more confident and independent so I gradually came out to people close to me. Some friends completely disappearing, but my real friends stuck by, resulting in friendships that still flourish today.
Years later after latching onto this new found confidence and pretty much coming out to the world (a whole different story), I am now excited to be involved with Just Like Us.
Seyi is a Just Like Us volunteer from London.