5 years in foster care, 19 years of having my forever family but I was still scared that admitting to my family and myself that I am GAY could mean I no longer have a family.
I spent the first five years of my life in Michigan's foster care, fortunately I was adopted at a young age into a home that not only took in me, my brother, and sister but adopted seventeen kids and raised six biological children. Growing up I always knew I was different from my brothers but never could figure out why I felt different. I was active in our local church, foster care alumni group, and did cross country and track. The year after graduation high school I was nominated and won the Governor's Service Award for Youth Volunteer of the Year in Michigan. I have volunteered over 1000 hours my senior year of high school. Looking back I realized I was so "active in my community" because it left no time for dating and made me not have to face the fact I was not living my truth.
Fast forward a few years, I had done a three internships in Seaside, took a job and worked in Ghana, West Africa, and had founded a nonprofit to advocate for young people who were impacted by foster care. I decided to do one last internship for an organization who held a federal contract as the experts in youth development. This brought me to Oklahoma. While in Oklahoma, I had come out to my friends and some of my family. On a road trip from Oklahoma to Baltimore, my roommate and I stopped at a Burger King and my mom kept calling. She was excited because I was suppose to be returning to Michigan in a few weeks. I couldn't answer the phone because I knew she would pick up that I was hiding something from her. I decided the best idea was to text her, at least if she didn't approve then I wouldn't have to hear her voice say it to me and hey I was already gone so why not! I sent the text and what felt like an eternity for a response back ended up being the moment I had hoped for. "I have known for a long time, I am your mom. I love you and always will."
Since, receiving that text back I have moved to Seaside, OR and married a great man. Seaside has been a welcoming place for us both however I have always felt like something is missing. That was until I learned about the Lower Columbia Q Center. It is like I found an organization that completes my community, my family, and makes me feel at home. I hope and pray that the LCQC is around for many more years to give that same feeling of resilience, support, and community to others who find themselves in the Lower Columbia area.
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