Jonatan s Story
"Growing up being Hispanic has its perks: the culture, the music, and, of course, the food! But, growing up Hispanic in the deep south? That’s another story. In a sea of white and black kids, I was the only Hispanic kid in my class and, growing up, I felt different than everyone else.
To make it worse, I was not only the only Hispanic kid, but also the only gay kid in my school. This made me an automatic bullying target. For the most part, I would try and ignore the bullying, but honestly it would get to me and hurt me.
On top of all of that, I was diagnosed with ADHD, which was difficult to deal with at the time. But, it did have some benefit. I would get easily side-tracked and bored, so I would be able to focus my attention on other things, instead of them.
I turned to music and theatre as a source to escape the hatred and ignorance of my peers. Music and theatre helped me throughout my time in high school. I got to travel and meet different people from schools around my area and meet people who were similar to me. It was the first time that I felt like I wasn’t alone.
Unfortunately, though, the ignorance in my school was still there. Overtime, I began to fall into a stage of depression, which I never thought I would. I turned to alcohol at a young age. But, thanks to the support of my close friends and family, I was able to push through and finish high school.
I turned my ADHD into a positive, allowing it to benefit me in my career. Being goal-oriented and creative quickly helped to gain my start in the fashion PR world in Charleston. Sure, I still struggle to focus my attention, but I can multitask and run on a high-energy level. I have met some of the most amazing people and it is also nice to be around people who are similar to me.
At the same time, I couldn’t help to have flashbacks to my younger, isolated, and depressed self. I found myself helping high school students who are going though similar situations like I was when I was their age. I am teaching them that even though it is definitely difficult and sucks at the moment, it gets better. I always say, 'Be proud of who you are, your differences make you one-of-a-kind!' These are the things I wish someone said to me growing up when I was feeling the way that they are.
I recently became a board member for 'We are Family', an organization that helps people who are struggling with their sex, gender, or even school problems. I love what I do and am so happy to share my story with the kids at 'We are Family' to let them know they are not alone and it's okay to be you."