Ciara Smith participates in WAMU's Youth Voices program in partnership with Youth Radio and D.C's Latin American Youth Center. She is studying for her GED here in Washington.
Most moms dream of one day seeing their baby girl in a beautiful white dress walking down the aisle at her wedding. And most moms dream of the grandchildren who may come later. Girls are princesses to their moms.
So, how do you tell a mother that her princess likes other princesses?
I really thought my mom was one of those mothers, and I was her princess -- but one who liked other princesses.
I had my first girlfriend when I was 16, but I couldn't bring myself to tell my mom that the girl who came over every day to study wasn't just a friend. So, for almost three years, I shut myself in the bathroom and practiced "coming out" to my mom in front of the mirror.
I'd say things like, "Hey Mom, you know I love you right...I like girls." No, that's not going to work.
I tried and chickened-out twice before I actually told her that I am a lesbian.
There were a lot of reasons why it was so hard for me to come out. I didn't know how she would react, and I was afraid she might kick me out. But the biggest reason was that I was afraid of disappointing her. I felt like I would be breaking her heart.
When I finally told her, her reaction surprised me. She didn't cry or get upset. She was really calm and told me that as long as I'm happy, she's happy.
I know I am one of the lucky ones. One of my good friends came out to her mom when she was 16, and she got kicked out.
In a way, I understand where moms like her's are coming from. Even though I'm a lesbian, if I had a daughter, I would also dream of her in a beautiful dress getting married to a man and having babies.
I know the pain that comes with being gay. Even with a supportive family, it's still hard. I've lost a lot of friends -- friends who believed that being gay is a disease or who felt uncomfortable being around me after I came out.
No mother wants to see her child suffer, and I would never want my future daughter to feel the way I did. But I also know that it's even more painful to hide your true self. The years I spent pretending to like boys, pointing out the cute ones and giggling with my friends, were much worse.
So my dream for my future daughter and any young girl, more than the beautiful wedding and the handsome husband, is that they find the courage to be themselves.