In my younger and more vulnerable years, I found myself comforted by the presence of a female figure.

Unlike most boys who preferred to hang out with male figures, I always found myself clinging to the women in my life like my mother or my aunts. I never was able to relate to the men in my life, I always felt they weren't as understanding as the women were. They nurtured me, they were gentle with me, and they made me feel safe.

Flash forward to my teens, and I'm idolizing female figures like Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Cher. However, being a teenage boy who listens to songs like "Express Yourself" and "Strong Enough" on repeat aren't always the most popular kids in school. In my teenage years, these women represented to me something that I lacked: strength. They had strength.

They were empowered and lived their lives the way that they wanted to. They didn't listen to the negative opinions of men or of others who tried to steer them away from their goals, they just did. I admired them for having the guts to stand up to others, to put themselves out there fully and brightly. I was so shy, so reserved in high school that I wasn't able to fully be who I wanted to. Of course, it didn't help that I was mercilessly bullied almost every day.

Fast forward another number of years, and I'm now fully living my truth. I'm out and proud, being the person that fifteen-year-old me needed all those years ago. But, I think that's the beauty of allowing boys to look up to strong female personas or characters, they gain a sort of emotional strength and intelligence that most boys and men don't have.

They're able to be more empathetic and open with people, more open to new ideas and people that they haven't met before. I am always so thankful for the women in my life who helped shaped me into the gay man I am today. Their strength, sense of style, altruism, and grace has influenced me in my adult years, and hopefully, beyond.

Let your sons be influenced by strong women, it's good for them.