I’m From Pittsburgh, PA.

by Jason Cozart

Satellite overhead image of Pennsylvania from Google Earth 2022

I can never repay the deeds and downright good will the people in my life blessed me with.

It all started back in 2002 on an unseasonably warm evening in Central Pennsylvania. My best friend and I were at an overlook that sits high above the valley below. We were there having a few drinks and enjoying the beautiful scenery. We thought we were alone, but we weren’t.

Three guys came in from behind us and attacked us because we were gay. As two of the guys held me down, they made me watch as they unleashed a vicious attack on my best friend. My best friend was stabbed over ten times in the heart and for good measure they slit my friend’s throat from ear to ear. All while yelling homophobic slurs and threatening that I would be next.

That day not only did I lose my best friend, but I also lost myself. Since that tragic day, I have had to learn to trust people around me, trust myself, and since have been struggling to know my purpose in this life.

For so long afterwards I had been on a self-destructive path making bad decisions and not caring about life in general.  If it wasn’t for my friends, acquaintances, and downright strangers I don’t know where I would be today. People like Marriane from Altoona, Pennsylvania, who treated me like one of own children, to my job developer in Chicago, Illinois, who continually checks in on me despite the fact that I live in Houston. Even random people from the streets have offered me encouraging words and told me I did have a purpose in life.

Although I can never bring back my best friend and I am still recovering myself, I now have made it my mission to get my life back together so that I can go out and help people who may have gone through similar experiences, and so that I can do my small part to erase the hate and educate people.

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