I never publicly came out—I didn’t feel like there was a need to. I told my closest friends and family and would tell people if they asked. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me. I can love whoever I want to love. I think the reason why it took me so long to come out (I was 17) was because I wasn’t sure what to call myself. Was I gay? Was I bi? Why should anyone give a shit? That’s the most important lesson I have learned since coming out. Nobody needs to give a shit about your personal life. I do not go by a label and I don’t think anyone should. I thought I was gay my whole life until I met a guy. By putting a label on myself, I restricted my mind and was not open enough. Now that I choose to not go by a label, I know that eventually I will find the person I will marry and settle down with, whether they are a man or a woman. Our generation is doing such an amazing job at bringing positive attention to the LGBTQ+ community, and I’m so happy that I was born when I was. I have not had the easiest life, but knowing that I have people that will not judge me for my sexual preference is a luxury I would not have had 20 years ago. But, we still have to remember that most of us are still teenagers who haven’t found out places in this world yet. Labels separate us into categories, and although they can help “define” a person, we should not let it become our definition. Instead of being the “gay boy”, say you are the cross-country boy who also happens to have a preference for men, or don’t even say you have a preference for men. YOUR LABEL DOES NOT DEFINE YOU. My name is Valeria and I love dance, and one day I want to become a mother and a doctor. If I marry a man, I am not straight. If I marry a woman, I am not gay. Right now, I am just trying to find my place in this world.