Adversity of the Past Can Create Leaders.
My name is Leon Velasco. The first born, of five children in my family. Being the first born, I always felt I could do nothing right. At age nine I was always questioning just about my feelings that I was developing toward other male classmates. I just never had anyone to speak to about it. I would always get lost in my own little world of entertainment. I would get dressed up in my Sunday’s best, fix my hair just right and put on lipsync shows for anyone who would want to watch. I would even make a pretend mic out of a brush or anything else with a handle. My dream to be a singer or actor was always on my mind at that young age.
As I got a little older I had a stepfather that made home life unpredictable as well as fearful and violent. Along with physical and verbal abuse, it was beginning to eat away at me emotionally. No one at school or church knew the dreadful situation my mom and us siblings had to endure due to his use of alcohol and drugs. At one point, I tried to reach out to a priest at my catholic church and spilled out my guts about my home life and my attraction to other boys. All I got was a lecture on respecting my parents and that I was going to hell for being gay. So, at age fourteen, with no one to confide in or place to go to, I tried to complete suicide for the first time. Things were rapidly spiraling down and by my mid teens I began cutting. I quickly got over the cutting because I didn’t like the pain I had to inflict just to feel something other than the pain and anguish of home life.
All throughout high school I would have to fight. I was always bullied. In P.E. I HATED football season, because “Smear the Queer” was so popular and three guesses who they ALWAYS threw the football to in order to tackle and pile up on. In other classes I was physically fighting the “Jocks” or the “Bad Boys” and at times groups of girls who would gang up on me for being gay. They had the upper hand because all my life my mom had instilled in me not to be violent; so I had no clue how to fight. But she would never know the fights I would come home from with bruises on my body. At this time she was a single parent and I thought she didn’t have the time to be bothered with petty things like school fights. She had to provide for four other kids. Among some other reasons, I eventually dropped out of high school.
At nineteen, I was forced into the closet by family and church after a few prior attempts to come out and being rejected; I became a father of two beautiful children. I STILL had no one I can confide in to talk about inner feelings for other guys and it made me feel trapped. I felt I was doomed to a lifetime of lies just to please other people.
As life went on I struggled with a drug addiction. It served to real purpose other than to be able to do many things and please many people. All it did was complicate things even more.
In 1997 I found a way out. My way to FINALLY come out of the closet once and for all and lock the door behind me, as well as light a match and watch the sucker go up in flames. Ellen DeGeneres uses her TV show to come out as gay and I had both my Mom and Grandmother both watch it with me telling them that this show had a hidden message. I knew for a fact the message may not be well received but it was a risk I was finally ready and willing to take. To my disappointment it was a negative reception. Jumping a few years ahead, things worked themselves out with time. My family and I are the closest thing ever.
So, “Why did I have you go through just about all aspects of my life?” All of what had transpired actually helped shape my future. I went back to school and got my GED, My Associates Degree in Social Work, and Associates in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. I vowed to be a person who is willing to listen to another person who is possibly LGBT. To refer them to services or assistance they can use rather than be a bystander and be useless. I want to educate parents to not assume that children today are or are not be heterosexual as the parent may want them to be. I want to bring about awareness to Social Service professionals, Educators and parents that LGBT is NOT evil, and that there are many, resources, locally as well as nationally at their disposal. I want to be the voice for the voiceless, the strong arm of the weak, and the knowledge for those who need guidance.
Therefore, I am a part of:
Trans-E-Motion, The LGBT Pink Panthers Movement Fresno, The Trevor Project, and I do outreach at Resource Fairs and let people know about The LGBT Community Center, Newslink, and PFLAG Fresno. For an added bonus I also am an activist to Campuses Organized & United for Good Health (C.O.U.G.H) to help Fresno Community College become a tobacco free campus.