Comment: My journey from scared teen to gay activist
The first time I came to the UK, I was amazed by its history, architecture and bustling cities.
Now, over ten years later, I have come back to experience this amazing place once again.
As a third year student from the University of California Santa Cruz, I am currently doing a full time internship with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) History Month and Schools OUT.
Coming to the UK to do LGBT work has been truly refreshing.
I feel I have come at an opportunistic time, shortly after a change in government and shortly after national laws that prohibit discrimination against LGBT people have passed.
I have been an advocate for the LGBT community since I came out when I was 14.
My commitment to our community has led me to work with government, police and schools.
Growing up as an out gay kid in my community was torture.
For a long time, I was the only out student, let alone person, at my school who was open about their sexuality.
The community that I grew up in was concerned with two things: getting into a prestigious university and making a lot of money.
Clearly, being gay didn’t fit into this plan.
Although I knew that my parents would be supportive, I dared not come out to them in fear that one of my brothers found out and spread it to my school.
With no one to talk to and no support from my school or my community, getting through each day became a battle. Eventually, I gave up.
Leaving the hospital after my second suicide attempt, I became determined to prove to my community and my school that I was more than their expectations.
It was my goal to make sure that no one went through the isolation and harassment that I experienced.
I quickly joined youth groups and raised awareness of LGBT people at my school.
Six years on, I have worked with five LGBT youth organisations, most of which are aimed at improving the environment for LGBT youth in schools.
My passion for community work has also influenced my current studies, as I am focused on learning about the culture and oppression of LGBT people.
This year, I was awarded by the Point Foundation for my commitment to my academics and to our community.
The foundation is the largest publicly-supported organisation granting scholarships to LGBT students of merit in the US.
They have given me this amazing opportunity to come to the UK and do my work for Schools OUT.
It is really exciting to be working in a country that legally recognises the lives of LGBT people.
It is because of this recognition that organisations like Schools OUT and LGBT History Month have been able to create such substantial change.
This is the fourth year for LGBT History Month, which happens every February in the UK.
We are celebrating with a pre-launch at the Royal Courts of Justice this November.
The work of the LGBT History Month is important because it makes visible the contributions of LGBT people to our world.
More from PinkNews
By celebrating our past we can create a greater future.
I am really excited to see where the internship takes me.
My current plans are to finish undergraduate and then continue on with graduate studies in queer theory or feminist studies.
I am truly grateful to everyone who gave me this opportunity and I am really excited about continuing my work in the UK.
For more information about LGBT History Month click here.
For more information about The Point Foundation click here.