New city, new beginning

2 MIN READ

Corey was in grade four when he had his first crush. But unlike anyone else he knew, his was on another boy.

“I remember I was under the table, and my friend and I were tugging on two boys’ feet. I went home that day and started thinking how I liked this one boy, in a way that I knew was different than just liking him as a friend,” he says.

Growing up, Corey says he was constantly teased and bullied by other kids.

Throughout his junior and high school years, he found support in online chat rooms, where he could talk to others in the same situation.

Soon after, his family discovered he was gay.

“That’s when everything blew up,” says Corey. “My father is from Nigeria. The first thing he said to me was that people get killed for this at home.”

Two years later, in grade eleven, Corey was outed again. This time it was to his entire school, which led to even more bullying.

“I never had a choice, I was never personally ready,” he says. “I had to deal with the aftermath of everything and try to explain to everybody how I felt.”

It was then that Corey knew he could either go down a dark path or try to make his situation a positive one.

“It drove me to prove to everyone that despite what they thought of me, I was going to be the best person that I could be. I never stooped to their level, I’ve always treated others the way I want to be treated,” he says.

Corey looked to his close friends for support. “I never felt close to my family – it’s who you make your family, and I chose my friends to help me get through it all,” he says.

Having struggled with acceptance from such a young age, Corey’s goal was always to leave his hometown.

In 2011, he and his partner had an opportunity to move to Ottawa.

“Once I moved, I never really wanted to go back because it brings up all the memories of me getting picked on as a kid. Sometimes when I go home now people still make comments to me,” he says.

Today, Corey and his partner are living happily in a city and neighbourhood where they can be themselves. Working as a pediatric nurse, Corey is helping to make a difference in lives across the city.

Corey’s advice to others in a situation they’re not ready to face, like he was when he was younger, is to find a stable support system.

“Talk to people that you are close to, people that you can trust. If it’s one friend, a group of friends, a counselor, a helpline – resources and support are out there and they’re what you need to move forward with confidence and success.”

Path to Pride is raising funds for vital local programs that support LGTBQ+ kids, families and seniors. Funds raised will support programs at Ten Oaks Project, Family Services Ottawa, and Ottawa Senior Pride Network.

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