My dad came from Michigan and moved to Colorado when he was a kid, he moved to Wyoming for work at the railroad and has been there ever since. My mom grew up in Moldova, which is a small country that is sandwiched between Romania and the Ukraine and was part of the Soviet Union. She met my dad and they started dating, got married, and had two kids. Those two kids were my sister and me. From an early age I always knew where I stood in my community.
My childhood wasn't in anyway bad, but it was definitely far from normal. As a kid my sister and I would spend most of our waking hours with our grandparents speaking mostly Russian and rarely having any food that was remotely American. I grew up going to Russian parties with Russian people, Russian food, and ever since I could comprehend thoughts, I knew this was where I belonged. However, this swiftly began to change when I entered elementary school, the older I got, the further I drifted from my community. I skipped out on parties, cooked different meals, and spoke English most of the time. But the final blow hit me when I realized I wasn't straight. When I looked at the girl in my sixth-grade class whose eyes were a mix of green and hazel, whose slender hands held my own, whose lips whispered, "we're friends," I didn't understand why I felt sparks, nor that feeling of I-want-to-spend-my-life-with-this-person. I didn't understand why it was a girl, I had only liked guys before, did that make me a lesbian? Was I gay? All of these thoughts pushed through my head and as the tears started rolling down I knew that I wasn't going to have a community anymore and that scared me, so I stayed quiet. I couldn't lose that security of knowing where I belonged, and I knew that I couldn't come out at my elementary school with the number of conservatives there, so I waited. And with waiting came a gift. When I entered middle school there was a GSA, there were accepting people, there was hope, there was community. I had always thought that your community defines you, and even though it doesn’t, being with like-minded supporting people is never a bad idea. Even though I had left my little Russian community, I thought it was for the better as my mom came home after every party complaining of how small minded they all were. I am defined by no one but myself, not even my community, but if you feel alone or lost, just wait. You will find that group of people who understand and support you, I promise.