I was not originally from Cincinnati; I was from a small conservative town of about 2,000 people with five stop lights and dial up. This town was called Georgetown, a town rich in Underground Railroad history and Ulysses S. Grant’s childhood (you know, the guy on the 50 dollar bill). This history shaped a lot of my passions and my sense of morality.
Then the day I turned 12 everything changed. That damn bible verse, “Shit, I’m in trouble this time; I think I’m going to hell?!?” That day I grew up and childhood was over. I hid everything about me and became “a man”. I lost three years of my life to depression & suicide attempts. One day I got tired of being alone and trying to be someone I couldn’t be for this god. I came out to my parents at 15. Mistake. They checked me in to the first ex-gay counseling clinic they could find. I sat in my bedroom and did the only thing I could do then… count the days down till I could leave.
By the time I turned 17 I became a bit more rebellious and started running away with cute older boys to the city. Cincinnati, it wasn’t Queer As Folk or anything, but once I got a taste of that city life I would never be the same again. When my parents caught me eventually, I stood up to them for the first time and ran away to my second home, the city. When I finally came back, I promised I would never compromise myself for anyone ever again. My senior year I not only came out, but my hippy English teacher and I started the first Gay-Straight Alliance in our county. The school was in shock with all the queerness and tried to shut us down. But we fought back and changed the student code of conduct to include protections for LGBTQ students.
I finally did make it out of that town but not without leaving my mark there first. I am now a student at the University of Cincinnati, majoring in Sociology and Organizational Leadership. I do activism in my spare time now with being a lead organizer in Impact Cincinnati. Eventually I want to run a non-profit organization for the homeless queer youth in the inner city so that I can be that somebody that I never had as a kid.
“Maybe today will be your big day and I hope that it is, but you don’t have to feel bad if it isn’t. Today doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be the day you change your life, the day you fix your problems, the day you start a new project, the day you heal, the day you win. Maybe today can just be the day you get out of bed or the day you are kinder to yourself than you were yesterday. Today doesn’t have to be everything. It just has to be today. It’s enough. It’s okay. There will be other days. There will be other chances. Until then, just enjoy this one as much as you can.”
After she came up to me and said, “I’ve been with my partner for 20 years… We would never get married because he’s on social security income, and because my daughter is disabled I have secondary income from the state to support my daughter. If I got married, both my benefits and his benefits would be reduced because we would become a double income family.”
She was explaining that marriage doesn’t work for poor people, and that it doesn’t work for disabled people. Having really simple examples like hers are important.