‘I grew up in Washington DC until I was eleven and moved to the Bay area until I was eighteen. When I was sixteen, I was kind of forced to come out. I was dating a girl but I never made out with her even though I was pressured by my friends to do something with her. The following year, a girl on my street and I really bonded very closely. We ended up confiding in each other about the things that had happened to us. She told me she had been molested by her brother and I told her I was gay.

I came out to a few friends after that because being able to say it out loud was exciting and new. At the same time, I still remember one week when I had an essay I had to write and my mom was helping me. She reached into my backpack and she pulled out a letter that someone had written to me saying how proud they were that I was gay. At first, I acted like the letter was to someone else. I ended up telling my mom the truth. I was so scared of my dad and he called me a faggot and a son of Satan and I would retort, ‘If I’m a son of Satan, what does that make you?’

I didn’t speak to my father for six months after I got kicked out of the house. My mom brought me back in. My brother ended up involved in heavy drugs while I ended up doing AP classes, orchestra, and varsity sports. I got a full ride scholarship to BYU and was there for a year and a half before I fell into photography. My family has now seen that I can be happy and successful on my own and they’re supremely supportive but it took them a long time. They had their own mindsets about happiness and success and it was wonderful to eventually hear my dad say, ‘If you can take care of yourself and be happy, I can be happy for you, too.’ It was great to prove that his recipe for happiness was not my recipe and that the pursuit of happiness doesn’t happen on one single path for everyone.’

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