We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofBrandon Tevin Im

Who are you? No like WHO are YOU? Are you a boy, girl, or non binary. I know you might hate getting labeled or even labeling yourself.

When I was in middle school I was always labeled as gay and fat by other students in my school. Both are true, and i'm not going to deny that, but it made me feel so unloved and it made me feel that no one cared.

I was always bullied and teased almost everyday. In middle school I was bullied because people didn’t like parts of me. It became too out of hand. I felt very vulnerable to everything they said about me. The bullies in my school would say hateful things: “OMG you’re gay,” “can see past you stomach when you look down,” “ your haircut is so ugly”. I hated hearing these things, so often I wanted to fight these classmates, but I didn't. I changed myself by how I dressed, I wore the same kind of clothes the straight boys would wear just to fit in with everyone else, only later on I learned that it was a mistake.

When I got to high school, I continued being cautious about how I acted and what I wore. I just wore sweatpants, nothing too loud that would make me stand out. I was scared of being harassed by people that did not accept members of the LGBTQ+ community. I was so iffy and unsure about myself. That was until I found the push I needed that made me want to be myself for once. I saw on social media how more people were coming out, how more people were normalizing plus size, normalizing females having under arm hair. It's the little things that can make a difference. I started watching Asian influencers like Patrick Star and Bretman Rock on social media. Watching them live the life I wanted made me feel jealous. I loved their vibe because they were so unfiltered, unapologetic, funny and just them being them. I decided to branch out doing make up and experimenting with fashion and starting doing what I love on a daily basis. That’s when I finally saw people accepting me for who I am and what I do, now I don’t have to be scared for who I am now because I was so surprised how many people supported me. By junior year other students started asking me to do their makeup for special occasions and customizing their article of clothing like a jean jacket and jean pants. It made me feel worthy to fulfil my dreams of becoming a fashion designer.

Now I live as my true self. I started to understand that no one can control me and control my thoughts and actions. Only I can and I will take control of my life. I wasn't always this way. I was so quiet and I kept to myself but I saw on social media how more people were coming out, 

What I want to do is spread positivity and speak for others that are feeling this way. We always hear about embracing yourself but don't always do it because we have a fear of getting judged by others for being too much or showing too much.

We have the ability to not care about how others see us. We should care more about HOW WE SEE OURSELVES. If you're part of the LGBTQ+ family: SAY IT, SHOW IT, EMBRACE IT! If you're plus size, skinny, tall, short, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or anything else: SAY IT, SHOW IT, BE PROUD OF IT! 

You're here now to make yourself happy, don't change yourself to feel accepted because the only person that will be there for you no matter what is yourself. I want you to repeat what the actress Keke Palmer tells us. Say it with me in your head or out loud “life is too short to hide, ride that shit until the wheels fall off.” 

Now go into the world and be who you are.

© Brandon Tevin Im. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.