I came out in high school in 1990 when I was in 10th grade. I grew up in a progressive community but was convinced I was the ONLY teenager to have figured this out so early. All the LGBTQ+ folks I knew were adults and many had not come out until they were well into adulthood.
Then I met another young gay person in choir at school. I figured if there were two of us there HAD to be more. With the help of a school counselor I set out to start a support group in our high school. This was before schools had Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs). It was also before there were organizations like GLSEN and Mama Dragons. The school administration was absolutely not on board with us organizing this support group and that made me extremely upset. To counter that, my friends and I started handing out pink triangles for kids to wear in support of the group. We handed out over 150 triangles and got kids to sign a petition in support of forming this group and eventually the administration acquiesced and allowed us to meet.
I always say I grew up kind of sheltered. Nobody ever told me I couldn’t succeed at what was important to me – so I just did things. I now know as an adult what an incredible blessing that is. My parents supported me unconditionally and without hesitation, no matter what. They not only supported ME this way, they supported all the teenagers who came through their homes this same way. And there were a LOT of teenagers who came through my parent’s homes who needed that kind of support.
That unconditional love and support enabled me to find my place in the world and to create change. In college I helped to create an organization that sent LGBTQ youth into classrooms and to service providers, educating people how to be an ally. After college I took a job at a queer youth resource center as a sexuality educator. Now in my role as Director of Lifespan Faith Development at a Unitarian Universalist church, I help run an annual conference called Building Beloved Community Beyond the Binary, that focuses on trans people and their experiences in the world. This conference provides education and resources for allies and a place of refuge and connection for trans people.
I remember as a young person, adults were always telling me I was so brave. I’ve never thought of myself as brave. I was brought up to fight injustice where I see it and that’s what I did and what I continue to do in whatever ways I’m able.
Sometimes it feels like it’s never enough. There’s so much hurt in this world.
Recently our 14 year old came out to us as pansexual. Many of her friends identify as LGBTQ+ as well. I have faith in our youth to continue to stand up for injustice where they see it and make a difference in the world. And now, as an adult, I can see how being your authentic self in a world that doesn’t always support you IS bravery. When I see the things our kids are doing to change the world it gives me hope and makes me proud.