To Black Queer Young Boys, This is How I Grew to Love Myself

To: Young Black Queer Boys

From: Tré Melvin (As told to Lauren Brill)

Thursday (1/28) at 7:30 pm ET a plane crash survivor and cancer survivor will chat with us about why he is so lucky

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To Black Queer Young Boys,

If you are scared, if people are mean to you, if you don’t like who you are right now, I want you to know my story.

When I was in third grade, a kid at my school snuck into the principal’s office. Over the intercom, he called me a f****t. I don’t remember how I responded. I don’t remember exactly how I felt. But at eight years old, I knew that society was against gays.

That’s why in high school, when my attraction for men started to grow stronger and stronger, I thought to myself, “I can’t be gay. What am I supposed to do with these feelings?”

Growing up in an urban area, I attended an incredible performing arts school. Surrounded by creative energy and teachers who believed in their students, I knew I had a future in the arts. However, I worried my sexuality would hold me back. So, I planned to marry a woman, have kids and live a traditional life.

Trapped pursuing an identity that wasn’t true to who I am, I started to believe God put certain people on this earth who aren’t meant to be happy.

The problem was that even though I loved my talent, I didn’t love myself, which made me miserable.

Thankfully, when I was 20 years old, my life began to change.

The problem was that even though I loved my talent, I didn’t love myself, which made me miserable.

By then, I was posting videos on Youtube. I went to Orlando, Florida, for a social media conference. Through one of my fans, who became my best friend, I met a guy and I fell in love with a man for the first time in my life.

The feeling of being in love was amazing, unlike anything I had ever experienced. Suddenly, nothing else mattered.

Tré struggled to face his sexual identity when he was growing up.

However, the relationship didn’t last. My boyfriend came from a religious family. When he told his mom about us, she became physically sick. He felt guilty and cut me off.

After our relationship fell apart, I realized I wanted to fall in love again, except the next time I didn’t want to lose it. So, I felt I had no choice but to be fearless and tell the world who I am. Loving someone else made me realize I had to start loving myself.

First, I came out to my friends and family in a mass text. Then, on New Year’s Eve 2014, I came out publicly. It was incredible. The support was overwhelming.

Although, telling people I was queer turned out to be the easy part of coming out. The hard part was facing and removing my self-hate and internalized homophobia. That process was very emotional but worthwhile.

Choosing to embrace who I am has led to so much growth these last few years in both my work and my personal life.

As an actor, I’m not so sure that you can be very good if you don’t understand emotions and feelings. For a long time, the emotional barriers I had up hindered me from reaching my full potential.

Now, I can let go.

As a writer, I can poke fun at topics that once scared me. And as a musician, I can put my whole heart into my lyrics and my melody. My original debut album (which hasn’t been released yet and probably won’t end up being my debut album) was about my first male love.

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Many of you may not feel safe exploring your sexuality. And as someone who is black and gay, there will likely always be people who don’t like you. But I want you to know you are not alone and life will get better.

Tré says he found a community on YouTube.

Find your community. Don’t feel like it is every man for himself and that everyone is out to get you. There are people out there who are like you, who will support you and who will love you. Youtube is where I found a home. It opened my eyes to different ways of thinking and different types of people. Use your heart and your passion to guide you toward finding a community that works for you.

Don’t bother fighting hate with hate. People can be mean, but whenever I throw hate back at people, I always end up feeling a million times worse. Find healthy ways to combat ignorance. For me, it’s through music, writing and acting. Using my passion to educate people helps minimize my stress and anxiety. I also noticed, when I respond to hate with love, people aren’t as angry as they appear. They usually are just trying to get a response. Don’t let people get to you.

My journey and my work contain many story lines and messages, but if there is one recurring theme, it is that being black and being queer is not only OK, it is beautiful.

I am so proud of who I am, who I have become and where I am headed.

As hard as life may be for you right now, my story is important because it proves that not only can you be free in expressing who you are, but you can also be happy living an authentic life.

So go be you!

Tré Melvin (Told to and translated by Lauren Brill)
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