When I was young, I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t seem like the rest of the kids in my class. I didn’t know anybody who was LBGT—I didn’t even really know what that was. I just knew that I was different and that made me feel weird. Weird in junior high is not a feeling anybody wants. I lost myself in sports, and it turned out I was quite good at basketball. I found a great team of girls who didn’t care about me being “weird.” They cared about whether I could block a shot or make a free throw. I kept playing all through high school and became great friends with many of my teammates. As a matter of fact, one of them cleared up the whole mystery for me on a road trip senior year when I confided in her that I always felt out of place. “Just because you like girls doesn’t mean you don’t belong here,” she told me. I think my jaw dropped. I could not figure out how she knew and I didn’t, but she told me that it was because she saw me as who I was and not the person I was telling myself I should be.

She had a point there. That has stayed with me, and whenever I find myself trying to fit some preconceived notion of who or what I think I should be, I hear her voice in my head. I take a step back and remind myself that the only thing I need to be is true to myself and I try to let that guide my actions. So far it has been a challenge but I am so much happier as a result. It turns out that I am weird, but not in the way I always thought. I am weird in that I like to eat my cereal dry and have a cup of milk on the side. I am weird because I actually don’t mind my lengthy commute to work. Not because I am a lesbian and I like to play sports.

The North America Outgames were practically in my backyard a year later—right here in Vancouver. I was incredibly interested in the Human Rights Convention that they had. I went to a few events with a teammate. It was incredibly inspiring to be there and everything was so well done. They had workshops, a Job Fair, and a March of Athletes. It felt a lot like the Olympics with its spirit of unity but also different—it fostered more of a sense of unity than national pride. I caught a lot of the games on SHAW TV as well. It was an exciting time for me. I felt like myself. I felt normal. I felt like everyone around me understood and supported me. I want that feeling for everyone.

Once I knew what was out there, other events naturally caught my attention. I was disappointed to hear that the 2016 games, which were supposed to be held in the United States, were canceled. Hopefully, things will go better next time around. There is no harm in thinking positively, right?