Role: Class of 2011, Customer Service Associate, Working towards an Associates Degree in Law Enforcement
Mike is a really easy-going and talkative person. Even after only a few hours of sleep, he'll be way too energetic after some coffee.
I was born in Chicago but honestly I don’t remember it much. My mom and dad got divorced when I was around seven. It didn’t really take a toll on me which is weird because it took a toll on my brother and sister. I’m younger than my siblings so that could probably be why it didn’t affect me. After the divorce I stayed in Cedar Lake, Indiana, with my dad and siblings. In general it was kind of boring but it was a really nice town. It’s Cedar Lake but it’s not incorporated. It’s just one of those smaller towns where everyone knows you.
My dad was in law enforcement, so when I was around eight my siblings and I ended up going to Catholic school. Every day after class we would be in daycare since my dad would get home late, around six or seven o’clock. My dad didn’t want us to be in daycare our entire childhood so he decided to have us go live with our grandma. My grandma lives in Italy. We traveled to Italy and I thought we were just taking a little vacation, but my siblings and I ended up staying there.
Going to school in Italy was pretty scary. The classes out there are a lot different than they are here. I remember the first time I was in my history class I was just back there not doing anything, so my teacher called me up to the front of the class and asked me to write what I thought they were saying, in Italian. When I gave him the paper he was kinda mad, but what did he expect from someone that just came from another country and didn’t know Italian? I was just this American that only knew English. It’s different when you go to a different country and you don’t know the language.
There are certain things you notice when you go to a different country. There was definitely a difference in education. Going out to Italy was an eye opener because some of the kids knew more than I did about my own country; it was embarrassing, but at the same time it was really funny. The lifestyle is also completely different than it is here. They don’t have the amount of things we have and everything we have we take for granted. Basically, what’s convenient here isn’t out there. It was a great experience living out there. I would tell anyone if they ever do something definitely travel overseas because even the people are different, they’re probably a lot nicer than they are here and overall there’s a calmer atmosphere; not as fast paced as our society. It’s not like here where everyone’s running around like crazy, always busy doing something. Over there you actually have time to sit down and relax and just enjoy life.
How I Got Here
I was eleven when my dad came to visit us in Italy and decided to move me back home with him. I went to Hanover Central in Cedar Lake, Indiana, for some of junior high. I’d get picked on but it didn’t really bother me as much as it bothered the other kids. The main reason my dad got me out of that school was because they would pick on me but the funny thing is I came out in that school. It was a funny way actually.
Apparently, one of the girls in my friend group had this huge crush on me and you know how it is in middle school everyone’s saying, “oh go out with her go out with her.” I remember I was with my good friend, Ella, and some other girls.
I looked at Ella and said, “I can’t do this, I can’t.”
We went outside and she just looked at me and asked, “Why? What’s up?” She saw that something was going on.
I said, “I can’t date her because… it’s not that I don’t like her, I like her as a friend… ”
She got really confused and asked, “Why not? What’s going on?”
At this point I just said, “I’m gay,” and she just stopped. Her jaw dropped and at first she questioned it, but once she realized what I said she understood. We ended up telling the girl that had a crush on me and things kinda changed from there. School started being different, people started finding out and started picking on me. I think the girl that had a crush on me kinda got mad and probably started telling people. From there it started being really awkward because at the time I actually had a crush on this one dude. I had this huge crush on him but he hated me and he would always mess with me. It went downhill from there.
Another reason that contributed to me getting out of that school was because I didn’t really get along with my stepmom. After my dad and my mom got divorced, my dad got remarried to my stepmom, Mel, and I love her to death now, even loved her as a kid. It was weird. I was going back and forth, from being at my dad’s to going to visit my mom. For some reason, I started not liking my stepmom. I think it was just different. I think when you have a stepparent that comes into a family it’s going to cause a bit of an unstable relationship. It was a good time living there but I wound up leaving my dad’s to live with my mom in Plainfield, Illinois. Once I moved in with my mom I went to the middle school on Main Street for a year. Then, my mom and I moved to Hickory Hills right before my freshman year of high school and I went to Stagg.
How to Live Life
One thing I hate is people who act differently with different people, they’re one person around friends and another person around others. I know a lot of people do that but what’s wrong with being yourself? I think when they say, “hey it’s gonna get better,” it’s true and it does, especially for someone like me, that’s gay and has been bullied. A lot of times when people pick on you it’s just because they don’t understand something or they’re afraid of it. I had a lot of people that didn’t like me because I was gay. I told them to do their own research, to go to a freakin’ library and look up research that’s not biased, something that’s just science. When people do their own research they learn different things.
Just be yourself because it’s just going to ruin you if you’re not. Don’t let anyone make decisions for you. If people don’t like you because of something then who cares? Life’s too short. Apparently being gay isn’t normal. Some people say, “just keep it to yourself, just be straight” and “you have total choice.” Oh yeah of course I do, is that why I would choose a lifestyle that I could get shot or beat up? No, because that just doesn’t make any sense. If I did what society wanted me to do, if I stayed in the closet and kept it to myself, I probably wouldn’t have met my boyfriend. Do what you have to do but at the same time be safe, don’t go looking for trouble.
Just be yourself, don’t change for anyone, and live life your own way.
--Interviewed By: Elizabeth Pawlica