Like many of you reading this article, growing up was a big challenge for me. Not every hard time had to do with me being gay because I really had no idea what that even meant. It was more about realizing I was different from the other boys and having to deal with not fitting into that perfect boy box of masculinity. I was very quiet, shy and gravitated more towards things that my sisters were into. As a little guy, my older sister, Jackie did a lot of the talking for me. We are 11 months apart and share the same age for almost a week. I was born premature, which made us not only “Irish Twins,” but also instant best friends straight from gate. Jackie looked like Shirley Temple, with big curly hair and the cutest personality to go with it. If you look at our picture from when we were both young, you would think that we were actual twins. We loved playing together, Barbies were our favorite and every once in awhile we would let our other sister, Amy play with us, but she would have to first put money into a piggy bank that we left outside the bedroom door. It was sort of her entry fee. My little brother was too young and certainly had no interest in taking part in our “New Kids On The Block” dolls meets “Barbie And The Rockers” extravaganza. Our playtime would come to a quick end when we would hear the sound of the garage door go up because we knew that meant our dad was home from work. My sisters and I made a pact to never tell our dad I was playing with Barbies. That was just not what boys did back in the day.
The older I grew up, I tried to come into my own but had the challenge of being picked on because I still continued to be really scrawny and soft spoken. Going to school was often a nightmare because I would be teased for “sounding like a girl,” “talking like a girl,” and “running like a girl.” So, I decided to stay quiet and pray that my voice would deepen. I can’t tell you how many times someone would call the house and I would pick up the phone with an immediate response of, “Hello, Mrs. Jacobi?” I hated the sound of my voice and could not blame anyone because it truly was sky high and there was nothing I could do about it. My sister, Jackie always had my back though and has continued to be a great support in my life.
Recently, when my fiancé, Nick and I picked a wedding date and started to iron out all the details, one of my first tasks was asking Jackie to be my “Best Woman.” Maid of Honor just did not seem like the right title for her, and we have certainly made it a point to shake up the traditional parts of our upcoming celebration.
It is so wild to me how life comes full circle and that even the darkest of times start to turn into lessons learned or bleeps on our own individual radars. New memories start to take shape, and consistent moments of happiness turn into your reality, validating thoughts that life is indeed so very good. But most importantly, that with the right support, self-confidence and family connection - you can make even your biggest dreams come true.
Last weekend, my mom, two sisters, Nick and I went shopping together. This was not your average shopping trip. We carved out a day where Nick and I could help my two sisters pick out dresses that they could wear to our wedding since both of them will be standing up during the ceremony. The shy, scrawny, high-pitched voice, Barbie-playing boy that is at the core of my soul was smiling proud that day.
It took a lot of self-growth to get here and many obstacles to overcome, but it is the person that I am today and the people that have been with me along the way, which is most significant. I could not be more grateful for my two loving parents and my three siblings. I wish all the younger boys in the world reading this article understands that being different is not a bad thing, and that one day life will be filled with countless days of joy where they can be who they are and love who they want.