I found out something was “different” about me when I was in seventh grade. I wasn’t sure what it was I just knew that I didn’t behave like the rest of the boys around me. The years go by and I start a fire, it gets bigger and bigger each year as I try to hide it. I used to look at homosexual gay content and felt awful because I knew it was a “sin”, I’d slap myself or punch myself in the gut anytime I thought about being with a boy, and I’d pray every single day, hours on end hoping that I’d meet a girl who would help me with my “problem”, “cure me of my disease”, and make me feel like the rest of the boys. That never happened.
In January of 2009 I went to a Teen Christian Convention in Tennessee. There was a flyer for one of the seminars there and it was talking about how to not only tolerate someone coming out of the closet but to accept them and their “lifestyle”. I felt a burning sensation in my stomach, I was so angry about that flyer. First, the picture had a character coming out of a closet with a megaphone, I felt offended-coming out isn’t like that. it’s something very serious and something you usually share with people one on one. Then the fact it said “lifestyle”, these people didn’t know better. It’s definitely not a lifestyle for myself or for most of the people in this community. We all live lives, we make goals and plans. Not agendas. We express love, emotion, and passion. Not scandalous behavior. I broke down and I cried and cried for about 3 days, I was so depressed and upset that I finally came to terms-I’m a homosexual. I felt so confused! I was raised being taught that it’s an abomination but I couldn’t change it. I have zero interest in women. If that’s true though then why would God allow me to be created? I can’t be a living sin!?!? I can’t be predestined for hell, it wouldn’t be fair.
Finally on January 19th 2009 I was back home in Boise, ID. This whole ordeal is still tearing me apart and I had to say something, First people I came out to were my parents. They weren’t very happy at all-we argued, we fought, they called me things they probably regret now. They said I had a demon inside me. It mortified me. I went to school and I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. My performance in school dropped drastically.
I’m so thankful for my best friend because he saw this and took me into his own family. He shared his home with me, his parents, his grandmother, sisters, his room-everything. With the help of him and his mother I was able to graduate from High School. His mother provided Counseling for me with a counselor who specialized in kids who were depressed and had mixed feelings about coming out. It was so relieving, I felt much better about myself and I started coming to terms with who I am. I graduated High School with his family, I didn’t have anyone from my family watch me receive my diploma. When I walked up on that stage, even though there were 1000’s of people watching me, I felt alone in the world. I didn’t take pictures with anyone-just my best friends. I got my diploma and left. That simple.
Summer after High School rolls in and I start to make new friends who accept me for who I am. One that I’m very fortunate to be friends with was a wise young man named James Gillis. He invited me over to dinner with him and his Fiance (they are a gay couple) we talked for a really long time, talking about things similar to what you’re reading today and a lot about what I’ve gone through. Finally he asked me to stay with them and I couldn’t resist, they seemed like family and that’s exactly what they grew into. They taught me all sorts of things, they taught me about relationships, some natural medicines, how to cook, they reintroduced me to education. I didn’t like learning until I met them, they made it enjoyable again. They taught me about how people really treat each other, how to treat guests and be a good host. They gave me one of my jobs and basically cared for me. I’m very thankful for them and I hope that I can someday make them proud of me.
The following summer (2010) they had a debt to pay to one of their parents. Their parents were running into financial issues and needed a place to stay. James and Casey asked me to leave their home unfortunately. I didn’t have a job at the time either, the restaurant I worked at-we all worked at-burned down January 2010. I just left and told them that I’ll be ok, that I found a place to stay, and they shouldn’t worry about me. I of course was lying, I didn’t have anywhere to go, no family, or any money to use for rent or keep myself held over for long. I rented a Storage Unit. I’d sleep in it if the nights were cold and I’d sleep outside somewhere if the nights were warm. I’d be in the Unit late after the place closed then I’d have to leave early in the morning before anyone showed up. It was rough, food was infrequent at times but I survived. I put up a front to everyone and told them that I’m in an apartment, working, and having a great life.
Eventually around July I decided I wanted to go back to school, I didn’t know about grants or scholarships before and after I heard about them I was determined to go. I worked hard to get into school. I also volunteered with a club they have called BGLAD. It was a gay/straight alliance. I did a lot of work there for them and even started up an Art Gallery as a Memorial to those who had tougher times than I did, who still do have it tougher than I do, and to those who fight for my rights-those like Harvey Milk, the gay soldiers who had to be in the closet, young kids who are bullied, committed suicide, or killed because of who they are. Activists like Martin Luther King Jr, Lady Gaga, Lt. Cho, and so much more. I had several artists, students, and activists participate in the Gallery. They all did their piece to a person they enjoyed. It was a very educational experience for everyone and such a wonderful sight to see.
I got accepted to BSU in Boise, ID and moved into one of the dorms in August. It wasn’t the best college experience I’ve had yet but I still enjoyed some aspects of it. I took Astrobiology, I made some new friends, and I felt like I could explore new things. Sadly the school was about Football and athletics so that wasn’t for me. In November 2010 I decided I’d like to move to Denver to attend MSCD. I got to Denver in January but missed the deadline to enroll. As I was staying in the city and exploring a bit, I learned about Boulder. I fell in love with the small town and told myself it’s where I’d like to be. I applied for several jobs in Boulder (well over 50 over the months) and I finally got this job at a Credit Union in May.
Here I am now in Boulder, CO. doing what I want to do in life. It was an incredible journey, these past two years of my life and I hope it doesn’t end here. I’ve been very fortunate to have the things I have now. I even make more than my own parents, I can take care of my grandparents, have time to have fun, and live comfortably without worrying I’d be in a Storage Unit ever again.
I’ve stepped into a new chapter of my life that I feel like I have to share. I had a job with a Credit Union back in May of 2011 and since then I’ve been able to help so many people with their own finances and help students get their Fin Aid straightened out. As rewarding as those were, that wasn’t even the highlight of the work I’ve done. While being employed at the Credit Union I actually created a Diversity program. I saw some areas of my work place that I felt needed changing and some people the needed to show more acceptance around the people they work with. The Credit Union now has a four year plan to be one of the most diverse and accepting work places within its community. We’ve changed the insurance to help same-sex couples, provided the same benefits to all employees, sponsor Diversity programs throughout the community, and gave equal benefits to all full-time employees. This is something that I feel very accomplished about and very proud of. I tried sharing it with my mother but she didn’t seem very impressed, Despite the fact I’m still very happy that I could start that program. If anyone tells you, you can’t change the world then prove them wrong. Only people crazy enough to want to see the change and actually are hopeful enough to see the change can actually make the change we need in the world.
Never give up on yourself and never give in. Even if you are alone, you can achieve great many things!