SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Andy Damian Correa is a gay man who left his native Mexico to start a new journey and begin the healing process. He has never gone back for fear he will get killed. He found that new life he wanted here in San Francisco.
"It was my secret. I couldn't share with anybody. I liked to play with Barbies with the kids, the girls. I wasn't allowed to be myself," Andy opened up to us.
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Telling his story, Andy took us back to his native Mexico where being different in a small town was terrifying.
"They started attacking me in Spanish about my orientation. My fight-back was always school. I tried to be the best in school," he added.
Even his parents were not accepting of the life he wanted to have.
"Mom, dad, I'm gay. My mama started crying," he said. His father wanted to change him, physically abusing him. "A few times, but I forgive him," he added.
His break came in his early 20s. He received a scholarship to study hotel management in Washington D.C.
"Just seeing people happy, coming here and seeing different kinds of gays, all colors, all flavors and nobody is going to judge you and just being yourself," Andy said with some emotion.
Andy knew he could never return to his town in Mexico. "No absolutely not, do not come here, there is no future for us," his friends reassured him.
After moving to San Francisco he applied for asylum. He told an immigration court about an affair he had with someone high in the ranks of the Mexican police who hid his sexual orientation.
"Obviously he didn't want to say he was gay, he has kids, he is going to kill me," he revealed.
When the immigration judge welcomed him to America, Andy knew he had won his case.
He's never been back. His mother still calls him to ask if he is dating--girls. On the other hand, his father has accepted Andy's life as a gay man.
For years now he has worked at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel and now he is studying journalism at City College San Francisco.
"I am trying to change my career. I have been in hospitality for 14 years and it's never too late, right?" he says.
I asked him one last question, what pride now meant to him. He paused and sighed before answering.
"Be happy and just keep in mind that 50 years ago people fought really hard to be where I am right now so I have to embrace that freedom so I am able to be just free and happy," he smiles at me.
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What Pride Means to Me: One gay man's journey from Mexico to San Francisco