David Porras struggled as he grew up, but finally feels like he can be himself at Webster.
Butterflies are beautiful, yet they cannot see their wings. To David Porras, butterflies represent self-love.
“The things you can’t see on yourself are the things that make you beautiful,” Porras said.
Porras is a freshman dance major at Webster University. He has been dancing since he was 10 years old.
“I found it hard to find little bits of happiness in everyday life. The only way I could escape was through dance,” Porras said.
Porras is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. He attended a catholic school in Kansas City from kindergarten until the ninth grade.
“It was very difficult just to be in that situation where they would teach us our views – their views – and that my lifestyle is a sin,” Porras said. “I didn’t like being in that situation because it was detrimental to my mental health.”
Porras struggled with anxiety and depression while attending the Catholic school.
In the ninth grade, Porras was auditioning for the dance team. He attended dance clinics for the entire week. On the day of tryouts, the dance coach told him he couldn’t try out because he is a boy.
“I went to the principal and he was just like ‘Oh well,’ and for me, that was like the last straw,” Porras said.
Porras decided it was time to leave the private school because he and his family felt his mental health declining, especially his older sister Allison.
Allison is 21 years old and attends the University of Florida.
“Being gay attending a catholic school can be disheartening,” Allison said.
Porras called his sister his biggest supporter.
“I just always gave him advice even when he didn’t ask for it, but when I thought he needed it,” Allison said.
Porras didn’t feel like he received the same support from his parents.
“I just never had a close relationship with my parents,” Porras said. “When I told my mom about when I had to go to the principal, that was like the first time I saw her fight for me.”
Porras’s parents are divorced and he didn’t have much of a connection with his father. When Porras told his father about the incident with the principal, he said his father brushed it off and didn’t show much concern.
Allison describes their father as very Christian and close-minded, which is why Porras and their father don’t have a bond.
“He hasn’t really been a major part of my life. It sounds bad, but I don’t really look at him like a father,” Porras said.
After his freshman year, Porras moved to a public school, Lee Summit High School.
“I think attending a public school helped him be himself and grow as a person,” Allison said.
Porras felt more welcomed at the public high school. He felt as if he was able to embrace his true self.
“I think his senior year of high school is probably when he became very comfortable with who he is and who he wanted to be, but I do think he’s still trying to figure it out,” Allison said.
Now that he attends Webster, Porras feels accepted and confident with who he is.
“Webster is open, very welcoming,” Porras said. Even the people who have no clue who I am have been very open which is very good for my mental health.”
Porras is able to be himself at Webster. He even started doing drag. He practices in his room, so one day he can perform in front of a crowd.
“The day before Valentine’s Day, I did a pretty spicy look,” Porras said. “I’m just practicing and trying to find my own drag aesthetic.”
Porras is still finding himself. His goal is to be like a butterfly: to fully love himself and radiate with vibrancy and beauty.
“Other than a mirror, you don’t know how you look. The little things that are part of your life are the things that make you beautiful,” Porras said.