Q: Tell us about your time at smyal:
A: It was actually my priest—I was Episcopalian—my priest gave me a pamphlet for SMYAL and suggested I start going because I had a lot of questions and he was helping me sort through it. I really wanted to meet other peers and to understand more about myself. So, I started to go when I was 16. And I had no idea what to expect when I first got here. And walking up old, rickety stairs, I came to this room filled with people—it was this big circle of people, of varying and diverse backgrounds. It was interesting getting to talk with everybody and understand, sharing, struggles, that sort of thing. And also talk about safe sex, which I had never talked about, certainly from the LGBT angle, and understanding that I wasn’t alone, that this is something that a lot of people dealt with. I made a lot of friends at SMYAL, I met my high school boyfriend at SMYAL. We used to go out after SMYAL meetings, too. At the time, Dupont Circle was a very gay neighborhood (not so much anymore). We would go there and go to a coffee shop and talk for hours and hang out. It was great. It really helped me to accept myself and it really gave the courage that I would need because I was going to come out at school
Q: Where are you now?
A:Today I live in Washington, DC sort of in the middle of politics, which is exciting to see. I am the photo editor of the Washington Blade, which is the nation’s oldest and one of the largest LGBT newspapers. I work on the campaign trail or in the House/Senate or White House. Anything that interests the LGBT community—taking photos and managing the photographers of the Blade. In my spare time, I create LGBT-themed music videos for Logo & YouTube.
Q: What advice would you give current smyal youth?
A: You are amazing! There are lots of people who have never met you, but care about you and want to see you thrive. Keep going to SMYAL, and find safe places so that you can gain the confidence you will need to be fiercely yourself.