Being downtown has taught me how to love myself and that is something I will never forget. I was born in New Brunswick and grew up in a rather conservative and rural environment, men were supposed to act like ‘men’ and women were supposed to act like ‘women’. The hardest thing in the world is having to suppress who you truly are. But growing up all I wanted was to be anything but me. I didn’t want to be gay. After finishing high school, I was fortunate enough to receive scholarships to attend the University of Toronto and this changed my life. Living downtown has helped me to understand that it’s not just okay to be different, but that I should embrace that I’m different. Through meeting individuals of all sorts of backgrounds who have varying interests and passions and through attending events like Toronto Pride and witnessing the tremendous support for the LGBTQ+ community, I finally learned how to love myself. I owe it to the inclusive nature fostered through Downtown Toronto that I can live my life without being in a constant state of self-resentment and anxiety. Being able to love who I love and to not be judged for doing so is one of the greatest feelings. Because of this, I belong downtown, and I always will.
- Jack M