I was 17 the first time I walked through two locked doors onto a psychiatric unit.

Self hatred had consumed me and I turned to self harm. The next seven years I was in and out of the hospital and it wasn’t until I came out that I began to figure out how to love myself for who I am.

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Along this journey, my life was saved by so many individuals who stepped up, called me out, and supported me regardless of faith or politics. I will never forget the face of my gifted teacher when she pulled me out of Chemistry to talk to me, letting me know I was SEEN and that her and the other teachers cared. I will never forget the professor to whom I first said the words “I’m gay” to and how the support she offered me as my world shifted saved me. I have learned so much on my journey with bipolar disorder and learning to love myself as a queer person.

Everything is baby steps. All progress starts with a thought, a question, the desire to learn and grow. We all have this capacity to meet people where they are and love them, regardless of what our personal beliefs are.

I have a dream of having ONE safe person in every school, mental health office, and place of worship for youth to come to when they are struggling with mental health and/or going through the process of coming out. I’d love for you to help me make this dream reality.