Growing up, my family moved a lot due mainly to financial problems, which led to family problems, and led to moving here to Coachella Valley with my dad while my sister went with our mom after they got divorced.
When I first came here it was about 5 years ago and I was starting to get into rights for the LGBT Community and I couldn’t help but notice that there aren’t many resources or places people in the community could go to get help or to learn about themselves.
At that time I was only in 5th grade and was scared to talk to my parents saying I want to do something about it so I kept it to myself. Around the middle of 8th grade year I made a friend who was bisexual and she started to get me to question my sexuality. Being that young and starting to question yourself is a really tough time when you don’t have anyone to talk to really, I was scared to go to my parents and I still am.
Right now, I’m a freshman at Coachella Valley High School (CVHS) and I’ve come out to my sister and friends as pansexual and to a few people that I think I may be gender fluid. Though I haven’t come out to any other family than my sister.
With all the genders and sexualities you can identify as it can be really confusing, I’m not even sure myself that I’m pan. After all the questioning you have and the weight on your shoulders to come out, we have to live in a world where it is a sin to love someone of the same sex but “cool” to have sex at the age of 13 or 14.
I joined my school’s Gay/Straight Alliance club wanting to learn more. We learned about Youth Participatory-Action Research (YPAR) and most of us went thinking it was something to do with the club but we found out it was a two-year research project to help improve Eastern Coachella Valley with LGBT resources. As soon as I learned it was for that I wanted to stay and help. The past nine months we have met at least twice a month conducting research and formulating questions to put into a survey for the youth to take and give us the information we need to go on with getting the resources here.
Being in YPAR has helped me learn more and feel more confident about who I identify as despite what other people think. It also has helped me realize how much us youth can do to make a change. Youth are just the start to making a difference but most are scared to step up because we grow up learning it’s a sin to love who you want and we don’t have a safe place to go where someone can help you.