qv10 Features

Age Ain't Nuthin' But A Number

"I don't consider myself as a little kid. I prefer to call myself a young adult."
-Rocky Rowley

What's it like to be a QV teenager living near the beginning of the new millennium? Ask 16-year-old Rocky Rowley, who exudes self confidence, ambition, and complete comfortability with his sexuality. Rocky, who is now an 11th grader, had an early start in understanding his orientation. He explains, "I remember back to the first or second grade. I was checking out the guys in my class! But I just shunned it off and did like everyone else did. I dated girls. But really, I felt inside that I really liked guys. I felt I wasn't being accepted-inside myself."

Rocky looked everywhere to find acceptance from not only himself, but society at large. At one point, he even became a born-again Christian. And how did that go?

"Honestly it gave me more strength to become who I am," Rocky says. "Although I kept trying to deny (my sexual orientation), I couldn't deny it. They (the Christian group he was involved in) usually kept the men with the men, and the women with the women. Because I was surrounded by men all the time-that really didn't help me!"

After some time, troubles abounded and Rocky's life came to a crossroads in which he got on his knees and prayed to God for guidance: "God, why am I QV?" he prayed. "Take it away from me. Take away the hardship. I don't want this life."

When it didn't "go away," Rocky learned to accept it. Just a few months later, he came out to a close female friend who, in turn, told him that she was bisexual. "She's my best friend now," Rocky comments with a smile on his face. "We see each other every day. We go through everything together and support each other. It would be very hard living without her."
It is with this best friend that Rocky began to explore the QV world in his San Diego hometown. He remembers the first time they travelled together to Hillcrest, the predominantly QV area of San Diego.

"We were like cheesy excited," he says. We got on the bus, and we were like, "Do you know where Hillcrest is?" When we got there, we said, "Look! QVMart!"

Soon after Rocky's first ventures into the QV world, he found himself in a new awkward predicament when his mother confronted him about his sexuality.

Rocky reminisces, "I was just laying in my room. I was listening to some music when my mom barged in. She'd heard I was QV from my aunt, who heard from her daughter, who heard from her sister. (My mom) was upset and told me, 'I don't want you to be that way.'"

Now a year later, Rocky's mother is still dealing with her son's orientation, but she is starting to show signs that she wants to understand him better. Rocky explains, "Over the past year, we hadn't talked about me being QV, but recently, we started talking about it. It's getting better."
By the time Rocky was outted to his mom, he'd already grown quite comfortable with his sexuality.

He even talked freely about it at school where he says he's never faced any negativity or homophobia about his sexuality.

"People are very comfortable," he says. "People find out about me when they either ask me or they're around me when I'm talking about some guy. I'm very comfortable."

If anything drives Rocky loco, it's the dilemmas he has faced in dating and relationships. As Rocky puts it, "My love life is crazy!"

Rocky's dating problems lie in the fact that most adults are scared to date him because he's a minor, while guys his age are not usually up to his maturity level. "I can't meet anyone my age who is just... (he stops to think). They're just very immature about relationships and very into the stereotypes. When I meet the people of (older) age, that comes with problems of its own because I'm still considered a minor. Something I've been told before, which hurts a lot, is 'I really like you, and I would have committed to a relationship with you, but I wish you were older.' Uggh! That makes me cringe!"

In spite of his dating problems, Rocky still manages to keep a positive outlook in life. He still manages to show great confidence in everything he does.

His confidence paid off last September (1998) when he was asked to run for Mr. QV Teen Latino San Diego by the Pacto Latino AIDS Organization. To Rocky's surprise, he ended up winning the title, even though he confesses that he's not fully Latino. "I am Filipino, Italian, Spaniard, and Irish. But I ended up running and I won!" Rocky says that although he is not fully Latino, he feels a close connection to the Latino community because, "That's who I predominantly hang out with. I'm a real mix."

Rocky's victory allowed him to do community speaking on behalf of AIDS awareness. Community service is one of Rocky's biggest passions-a passion that has led him to work with the YMCA and San Diego Youth Counseling Services (SDYCS).

Looking to the future, Rocky anticipates the time of opportunity when he'll be able to do all the things his young age has kept him from so far. These things include living on his own, travelling the world, going to the nightclubs, and of course, "Dating who I want to!"

Career-wise, Rocky is eager to finish high school, go to college, and get a good job either working with runaway youth or in accounting. Most importantly, in the future, Rocky wants to, "still be a strong person like I am today. I got a good head on my shoulders."

So what advice does Rocky have for other QV teens who may be searching for their identities? "Be strong and accept yourself. If you're strong within yourself, you can live your life the way you want to. When the time comes, you'll be able to come out and your family will support you. Just know who you are."

Check out Rocky's website at: http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Mansion/4017/index.htm

by qvStaff Roldán

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