This picture was taken in June 11, 2003 on my birthday. I just turned 17 and we went to Red Lobster to celebrate.
Well, that day was an emotional day for me. I was getting ready to be put in the juvenile system and preparing to go into placement.
At that time, I was coming into terms with my sexuality and felt like no one in my household understood me or related to me. I would run away from my home or come home late at night. I would just to go out and be with my friends who I felt accepted me because, like me, they were going through the same thing. My little brother was affectionate and loving and that day. I remember him trying to cheer me up and just wanting to put me in better spirits. As you can see from the picture with our mom, he was always making funny faces, and always had a smile and laugh that brightened my world.
Although that day was an emotional one, it was a life lesson that guided me on the right track to better myself and to come to terms that my family did love me regardless of what mix of emotions I was going through. And at the end of the day accepted me for me – gay and all!
Thinking about that still gets me a little emotional.
My brother was murdered on April 10, 2016. I’ve been slowly dealing with his death. I miss him like hell, and just want to speak to him or hear his voice one more time. It tears me a part to know he’s not around and sometimes I just like to make believe that he’s really not gone. I pretend that he is just temporary behind bars. But the reality of the situation is that he’s not. He is gone.
I also look at it as I have come a long way from that 17 year old boy and if it wasn’t for that life lesson, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today.
Xris Rivera, Philadelphia