Gay college dancer saved by kindness of strangers after parents disown him
A gay college dancer whose parents made him attend ‘gay cure’ therapy, and kicked him out, has found immense support online.
Joel Andrew, who is a freshman at the Oklahoma City University’s prestigious dance programme, was sent to ‘reparative therapy’ when he was 12.
Now 18, he recalls attending weekly counselling sessions, and being made to recall anything possibly perceived as gay or effeminate he had done that week.
He was then told to resist any such urges.
Andrew also practiced “praying through”, genuinely believing that if he prayed hard enough, he would “turn” straight.
“Every night, I would pray to God to make me straight,” he told the Oklahoman. “It didn’t work.”
Now 18, Andrew began dating a guy a year ago, and his parents kicked him out, and refused to sign student loan documentation, so he couldn’t attend the university.
With the help of his dance instructor, fearing that he would be forced to return home, he set up a GoFundMe page, aiming to raise $6,500 for a semester of tuition.
As of Saturday, the teen had raised over $60,036, with help from gay rights activist Dan Savage.
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Three individuals donated $1,000 each to the cause.
Savage had backed up Andrew’s story, despite his parents denying that any of it had happened.
“What a few months ago seemed impossible now seems achievable,” Andrew wrote in a thank you note on the page.
“I’m blown away by the support and words of encouragement from friends, supporters, and strangers. If I had known before that so many people would love me and support me after coming out, I would have done it a long time ago. When I first heard the words ‘It Gets Better,’ I was skeptical; I didn’t believe it was possible. I thought I would be stuck in my small town, surrounded by people who didn’t like me, doing something I hated. Now I will have the chance to make something of myself and all of you have had a huge part in making that dream a reality.”
Savage now encourages follwers to donate to the Point Foundation or the Ali Forney Center, given that Andrew has now more than covered his tuition.
“There are a lot of Joels out there,” Savage told The Oklahoman.