Tera Leigh is a student filmmaker. I met her in Orlando while she was getting footage for a documentary about the shooting at Pulse Nightclub. We agreed to meet at a coffee shop the next day to discuss her project. On her way to meet me that morning she experienced some healing and graciously agreed to let me share it with you.
Tera Leigh: When I was about seven years old I went to a summer camp. It was held at this church off of Colonial Drive. I was always made fun of as a kid for looking like a boy and the same type of ridicule started happening to me at this summer camp. It always bothered me but it's just who I was. I never understood why people didn't get that that's just who I was.
This kid comes up to me. He must have been 10 or older. He acted like he was going to be friends with me. I was really self-conscious. I was never fully secure in my skin around other people. So he comes up to me and says, "Hey, I want to show you something. It's in the classroom." So I was like, "Somebody likes me!"
He took me to an empty classroom and I said "What are you going to show me?". He locked the door behind me. At that moment my heart sank and I realized that something was really wrong here. That moment of impending doom. I ran for the other door in the classroom. He jumped over the desk and locked that door too. I'm standing there frozen in the middle of this room. He comes over and pulls my pants down. After he pulls my shorts down he goes, "Okay, I was just checking." I was mortified and embarrassed. One of the things that was most embarrassing was that I didn't like to wear underwear when I was a kid, so I didn't have any underwear on.
He let me go, but I was scared he was going to do something else. I don't even know how to describe that feeling of terror that went through me. It was just a violation. You know?
I spent the rest of the day hiding out on the playground, totally quiet and uncomfortable. I went home and I didn't tell my mother. I was so embarrassed. I thought she might say, "See, this is why you shouldn't dress like a boy." I was really, really embarrassed.
So this morning I had a meeting with a dear friend of mine and a spiritual mentor. He was so excited for me because I'm following my spiritual path, working on this film. We had this amazing, mind-blowing, meeting. Every time I'm with him my energy level is just like, "Yes! I can conquer the world."
So, after I leave him I realize I've got like five miles until I run out of gas. I'm frantically trying to find a gas station. I finally found a gas station and I get my gas. I never go down to that area anymore because I live in a different part of town. I was only there because I was desperate to find gas.
I head out on Colonial on the way back down here to meet you, and as I'm driving I look up and I see that same church where I went to camp. All of a sudden all these emotions came flooding back to me. I've done so much therapy that I'd forgotten all this stuff. But I was in such a high spiritual place that when I saw the church all those feelings of being less than or embarrassed because of who I am came back.
But as I was driving away I took one last look in my rearview mirror and I look at the church marquee and it says "love one another" and I just lost it. I had to pull over. It felt like this lifetime of not trusting had been lifted off of my chest. It was literally a sign that I'm in the right place. That I'm going down the right path in my life. It made me realize that nobody's ever going to hold me back again, including myself, or my scars.
Before I left to come over here, my mentor told me "Tera, no matter what negativity that you see or what happens to you, turn the sails of your mind towards love and forgiveness." And then I'm driving down the street and that happens and then I see "love one another" in my rearview mirror.
There are things in my life that turned me away from that deep core faith that I had in spirit, but I'm blessed, and I believe in God.
The reason that I named my company One Love Films is because Christ had one Commandment that was most important and that was love one another.
Part of these collections: Coming Out