When's the last time you did something really brave? Like, you were ready to crawl out of your skin from fear, but you did it anyway.
Do you think you could've done that at 9 years old? Because Zachary Ro did.
At an Aurora, Colorado town hall for presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, Zachary asked a question in front of the whole audience. Zachary asked for help coming out.
“It was exciting, and I felt really happy,” Zachary Ro told the Colorado Sun after the rally ended. “I was glad I was able to tell everyone in the audience that I’m gay.”
It always has. It always will.
For gay teens and young adults, the phrase "it gets better" can feel empty without visible role models we identify with. Kids like Zachary, often still trapped in the closet, are still attempting suicide at rates far higher than their sexual and gender normative counterparts.
I still viscerally remember the first time I said "I'm gay", all alone to myself in the mirror of my bathroom. The fear of the unknown, the expectation of future rejection scared me worse than playing football in front of 100,000 people. For those who have never had to come out, I don't know if it's possible to convey that feeling, but trust that what Zachary did took guts like you can't imagine.
Whether you'll vote for Mayor Pete or not, the image of an openly gay man competing for the highest office in our country will have a profound impact on so many children. Not every gay kid will see themselves in Mayor Pete, and that's okay, but it's also why we must continue to elevate people of all marginalized communities, so that every Zachary has somebody to aspire to be.
I verbally came out to myself after my first breakup with a man. I was too scared to be vulnerable, and it ruined the relationship. I spent countless nights laying awake at night wondering if I'd always be alone in the world. I didn't dream of hot, passionate love making; I dreamt of having the confidence to hold a man's hand who I loved while I walked down the street.
It did get better. For me, and so many others. It's not always easy, but it's possible. When we build an open and accepting community, we make it just a little easier for those struggling in the shadows to join those of us living out in the light.
That's why at Kalamos Care, we're focused first and foremost on building community. Do we want to be your PrEP provider? Absolutely! But more importantly, we want to show you how wonderful life can be when you dare to love yourself.