My story is not an easy one to tell.
No one should be beaten, or be told that God doesn’t want them, or be sent to dangerous so-called “conversion therapy” because they are gay.
No family should feel they have to choose between their faith and their child.
But this is what happened to me and my family when I came out as a lesbian at age fifteen.
After eight months in an unlicensed “conversion therapy” center in the Utah desert, I escaped late one night and ran.
I found help from courageous gay teenagers like me, a brave and compassionate teacher at the local high school, and an incredible attorney in Salt Lake City.
They supported me through a legal battle for my freedom to live under the protection of the law as an openly gay teenager–in Utah, one of the most conservative places in the country.
I also found my way home to my parents, who have grown to accept me.
I am telling my story to help put an end to conversion therapy once and for all and to encourage LGBT teens and their families everywhere to be brave and stand up for each other.
It has not been easy to put my story into words, but I share it with to you in the hopes that you can learn what I have learned: what makes us different, makes us strong.
Thank you for standing up with me.
p.s. This is a picture of me and my friend Jason, who was one of the first people to help me escape from conversion therapy and find my way to safety and freedom. It was taken when he came to visit me in Portland.