Looking back, it’s hard to remember just how terrifying it was. Living my double-life and masquerading as the straight person, I knew I wasn’t was pulling me apart from the inside. I didn’t know whom I could trust, and every interaction left me feeling even emptier than I was before.
One night, just before my twelfth Christmas, I found a note on my pillow. “I know you’re gay,” my mom wrote. My heart was beating at a pace where the individual beats were going too fast to even separate. “And that’s okay,” read the next line. My heart melted. That letter, and the one my dad wrote shortly after, changed my life. My parents turned into my noble protectors.
Slowly but surely, I started to tell people my dark secret. Opening the closet door and starting to poke my head out was such a glorious breath of fresh air. But even as I was starting to come out to the rest of my loved ones, my foot was still lodged in the door, desperately and anxiously preventing myself from stepping out any further. And for a long time, that’s where I stayed. I was far out enough to see the wonderfully fabulous LGBTQ+ community dancing and playing under a beautiful rainbow in the sky. But I couldn’t join them. I wouldn’t let myself join them. Because as much as I wanted to, I was too afraid to leave my uncomfortable safety, and so there I remained, hiding in the shadows.
To this day, I’m not exactly sure what the turning point was. Perhaps I unconsciously noticed a shift in the dynamic of my locale, or maybe I just got fed-up with where I was at. I suspect it was the latter. But no matter the cause, the effects were felt to my core. It was a change to my otherwise stagnant world. I thought the hearts of my loved ones were static, but they were changing and growing alongside me.
My parents, being the wonderfully fantastic people that they are, had a brilliant idea: monthly get-togethers for LGBTQ+ kids all around Utah called “Rainbow Mutual”. I was sold, and that’s what we did. Every month since then, for nearly two years by now, we’ve brought together so many colorful kids every month and given them a place to be themselves. Some kids tell me that it has changed their lives; most of all, I think it changed mine.
After doing Rainbow Mutual, I’ve learned to look outside myself. I’ve learned that my queer journey isn’t just my own–It’s about the people that I’ve met and the hearts that I’ve changed. Of course, there isn’t a “gay agenda,” but I’ve still discovered my personal mission: to change hearts and make the world a better place for people like me.