I’m From St. Michael, MN.

by Torrey Zahler

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

Growing up, my journals were plastered with clippings stolen from my sisters Teen Magazines. There was a lust for the guys. To have…to hold… There wasn’t always a need for words because I knew of none to describe the feelings I had. It was more of a feeling of content… to know what made me excited, to feel whole. Finally, at 16 I was able to express and vocalize those feelings I’d held back for so long. Coming out as a gay individual hadn’t come easy, but I needed people–the family, the school, the church–to understand what I hadn’t for so long.

Looking back, the best words of advice I have for what I feared most back then are: “It will get better! It won’t get easier, but it will get better.”

Over the last 13 years I’ve challenged myself to explore the gay community far and wide. There’s an abundance of love and acceptance. Of course there will be resistance along the way from those who oppose you and who deny that your feelings are healthy. You need to understand that not everyone will accept you for who you are, and they are missing out on knowing someone who is capable of great things.

Who knew there were others in the gay community who love rodeos, country-line dancing, basketball, rugby, softball, Ford trucks, demo-derbies, fishing, camping, boating, education, mentoring, volunteering, organics, sign-language and others just to name a few. And if you have trouble meeting people who like the things you do, keep networking through life because there are plenty of people out there who may not be gay, but they are open to accepting those who are.

Today, I remain active through education and awareness groups to help spread the word of diversity in all shapes and forms from culture and disability, to athletics and career development. The journey of growing up gay, dealing with the ups and downs of living in a small faith-based community, has opened my eyes and soul to find an identity in so many aspects of life. Having found who I am allows me to help others find and love themselves too.

Cheers and thanks to my friends and family who have supported my independence to learn and discover what it means to be true to one’s self and to find love for others through kindness.

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