This is a picture of him as he was just starting the 10th grade. He had changed schools twice in the last two years and barely knew anyone in his class. He had really bad acne. He was overweight. He was obsessed with comic books and super-heroes. He never had a girlfriend, and was secretly more interested in guys.
He’d messed around with other boys, growing up, but he’d never thought of it as anything more than fun—shameful, horrible, secret “fun”, mind you—but now he finally understood what he wanted, and who he was going to be. About halfway through the 10th grade, he developed a big crush on a friend he knew from drama class, who he was sure was gay. One day, the kid mustered the courage to tell him.
If that friend hadn’t been a real friend, if he’d teased or taunted and spread the word around school, things might have turned out very differently. But he didn’t. He explained that he, himself, wasn’t gay, but that it didn’t matter to him if this kid was. They would still be friends.
By the end of the year, this kid has been accepted into a circle of friends who would love and stick by him all through school, and beyond. With their support, the kid got more confident, more social, more creative, more open. Even though he was still nervous, sometimes, about people knowing who he was, he tried to radiate self-assurance and deflect jokes and slurs.
He moved to Chicago. He went to art school. He fell in love and broke up, and fell in love and broke up again. (And again.) He got back into comic books. He started a nonprofit supporting gay comics artists.
Then he started this comic book company.
It gets so much better. Please hang in there.
(If you feel like this kid used to and you need help, there are people who will listen to you and support you.)