My parents had always instilled in me the values around which they had built their devout Christian lives. But the teachings of acceptance and forgiveness were quickly forgotten when I showed an inkling of difference. As a confused adolescent, it had been hard enough admitting to myself that I wasn’t comfortable in my body but voicing it to my parents was another story. A sinner they branded me. Inconsistent with God’s holy purpose.
Their rejection was painful. But being kicked out truly broke me. With nowhere to go I took to the streets, alone and directionless.
After days spent wandering along the river that flowed west out of our village, I decided to set my sights on London for there I had been told that liberal attitudes were easy to come by. They said every type of person could be found there. With the little money I had, I made it there in a few days, sleeping mostly on overnight buses.
I ventured into Camden like a mouse, curious yet prudent. Nobody paid me any attention although I looked a mess. Taking refuge under a bridge along the canal, I cried myself to sleep. My first night in London.
I woke to find a young man, slumped on some messily stacked cardboard boxes only a few metres away from where I had laid my head. I watched him for a few minutes, listening to the strange sounds of a city waking up. He rolled over and sat up, turning his gaze in my direction with a grunt. We held eye contact for a few seconds, allowing me to determine whether he was friend or foe. He broke the silence by asking my name.
It realised in the split second that it took to answer his simple question that I could say anything. In London I could be whoever I wanted.