When I was thirteen, I came out to my family. My grandmother, who I am very close to, didn’t like the fact that I was gay and this hurt me. This made it very difficult for me to be myself at home. I constantly struggled. School was no different. I almost dropped out of school because of the emotional torment I experienced from other kids. It was also hard to reconcile my spirituality with the fact that I was gay. I was scared to tell anyone that I was gay because according to my religion, they thought it was wrong. I was depressed, hurt, and distant. There were days I would even consider suicide.
I began seeing a therapist who told me that if I was around people whom I could relate to, it might help me be more open with myself and happier. She suggested that I come to The Attic.
I began regularly attending Attic activities and support groups, and I found The Attic to be a place where I felt comfortable and was able to engage with a diverse group of youth who come from many backgrounds. The people at The Attic seemed to respect each other despite their differences. They also seemed confident- they were not afraid to be themselves. I wanted to be a part of that. So I began to work on myself and be more open, despite the challenges at home and school. Over time, I became increasingly less depressed.
Now, as a senior in high school, I am currently involved in many activities at The Attic- from the youth planning committee, to the workforce development internships, to social and community events. I have become more confident as a person, and have also learned a lot of leadership skills that I am sure will help me in the future.
Also, I have finally learned that I can still be spiritual even though I am gay. Being at The Attic and around others with similar struggles helped me to figure this out. The Attic has helped me to love and accept myself in totality, and not feel like I have to change.
There is a saying, “If you love the work you do, you never work a day in your life.” That is how I feel at The Attic. It is the one place where I feel that I can openly share my personal beliefs and ethics. The Attic is truly a place where I feel like I am home and where I have made my own family. There are definitely youth who come to The Attic and grow up knowing that it has changed their lives. I am one of those people.
I am currently applying to colleges in the Philadelphia area, and in the future, I would like to help The Attic raise money and grow so that LGBTQ youth like me can continue to make themselves visible and so the organization can help even more people.