“I’ve spent most of my life living in a very conservative Christian household, but I am nothing like my family. I’ve never been able to subscribe to only Christian ideas or the ideas of the Republican party. I probably am the only liberal in my family, and that has led to some very interesting conversations and controversy in and of itself over the years, then you add the fact that I’m gay and you begin to understand my life.

I knew at a very young age that I was not like other boys. I never liked the typical ‘boy toys.’ I would always rather play with dolls and other toys typically associated with girls. When I was 12 years old, I told the first person I was gay, and it was a huge relief.

After coming out to all those in my life, some supported me – others, not so much. I was bullied for several years to follow, to the point that I attempted suicide several times. Fellow students and even some family told me that I would never amount to anything, that I was worthless and should just die. I started to believe all of these things people were telling me and went through a very difficult time in my life. Looking back on my past I’m glad that I was never successful in killing myself because it does get better.

Being a member of the LGBTQ community in today’s society can be very difficult, but there is hope out there. When I was younger I found my strength and hope in Ellen DeGeneres. Her bravery and will to help others is what helped pull me out of the darkness, but as I got older that was not always enough.

My whole life I have longed for a sense of greater belonging and self-validation in my ever-changing identity, and have found that here at TVUUC!

Just a few short weeks ago I attended worship here for the first time, and have never felt so welcomed and loved by such a large group of people. That Sunday as I sat in worship I found myself being drawn to what was said. It was the Jan 1st service, and the topic was on ‘Holy Discomfort.’ Something that I had come to know and understand very well from the Christian church. I could tell from the very open worship that it was not going to be like anything I had known before and that I had found a place where I could grow in my faith be it Christian or not.

I leave you today with the words of our Affirmation that I now, like so many of you, have taken to heart in my everyday life! But before I do I would like to thank you all for giving me a moment to speak to you and share just a little bit more about myself, and for being such a welcoming, loving, and accepting congregation of all people – no matter who they are, what they believe, or where they come from.

I invite you all to join me in our Affirmation: Love it the spirit of this church, and service is its’ law. To dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another, this is our great covenant.”