“I think the greatest source of pride for me is my own personal growth journey since coming out. Up until high school, I had never even heard words like lesbian or bisexual, and had never known people could marry someone of the same sex or live a transgender life. These ideas were merely amorphous to me, and only lived in my active dream-state, never represented or talked about in my deeply Christian upbringing. I never imagined that there was language, identity, and community that reinforced my own reality bubbling inside of me.

When I came out, it was a turning point in my development into adulthood. I began joining support groups on campus, chat groups online to talk to other young queers, and reading, listening, watching, and living all things queer. My brain was flooded with new language, new concepts, new ways of living that have since influenced every aspect of my life. Being queer taught me how to question constructs — gender, sex, heteronormativity, compulsory monogamy, race, religion, capitalism, nations — and sit with the struggle of pondering all I was taught until clarity comes, revealing my own truth. Being queer guided me into knowing myself, shedding shame and guilt, and trusting my intuition more. I am thankful to my past self for taking the leap into self-realization, because had I not, I may never have found the freedom, joy, and satisfaction of a healthy, loving partnership.

I am proud of how far I've come, but my journey is not over yet. I still have so much growth ahead of me and I can't wait to see what unfolds.”