Pedro De Anda Plascencia recently graduated with two degrees in English and political science from the College of Letters & Science. He is an Achievement Award Program (TAAP) Scholar in UC Berkeley's Class of 2021. Following is an excerpt from his speech delivered at this spring's TAAP Senior Brunch.
Dear Fifth-Grade Pedro,
I want to begin by telling you that I love you. You are valid, and you are worthy of love and protection. While your friends are on the playground with their fresh sneakers, talking about the latest version of Call of Duty—you are in your head, trying to search for the right video game language, to make sure you are not othered. I want you to know that the emotions you are feeling inside are fine. They’re more than fine; they’re yours and they’re real. I want you to know that being gay is not bad. Do not feel ashamed as you play Barbies in the living room with your sisters, as your parents work long hours in swap meets, trying to make ends meet, struggling to make sure that you and your sisters can have your dollar to go to the corner store to get your bag of hot cheetos. These experiences will become our identity; there’s so much in store and so much to be proud of.