Since Christmas is just around the bend, and I know times with family can be particularly tough around the holidays, I thought I would just share some thoughts. For those of you who don’t know me, I recently graduated from BYU with a degree in Philosophy and am moving to California to continue my education and get my Master’s Degree. So unfortunately I will no longer get to see all of USGA’s wonderful members every week. But nonetheless, I just wanted to let you know that, in my short time at USGA, knowing all of you has meant so much to me.
I found out about USGA through another friend from the philosophy department in April of this year. It was somewhat scary at first because I had only been out to myself as an asexual for a few months, and even then I was so used to people acting like asexuality was weird, unheard of, or made up. It helped slightly that the friend I was with at the time was demisexual, but I was still worried. I was scared to say anything to anyone. However, once I got to meet people, I found USGA to be such a warm and welcoming place. Since that time I have had the opportunity to make so many wonderful memories and new friends. From attending our regular meetings, to our cherished events at the Coes’ home, to our great FabHE and WAGMUSGA activities. I loved learning about LGBT history with you, flooding Wendy’s and eating with you, setting up fireworks and cooking hot dogs with you, watching Hocus Pocus in cramped spaces with you, talking about books and hot chocolate with you, and seeing the temple lights with you. It has all been just so great. And it contrasted so much to my life before USGA, because before I had felt incredibly alone during most of the time I spent studying at BYU. I have had times of crippling depression and anxiety, and of course, I still struggle sometimes. But I feel that ever since I started attending USGA, it has just been such a blessing. I have felt such warmth and unconditional acceptance because I realized that we are a collection of people who are often rejected and misunderstood for a plethora of reasons and so we all know what it’s like to not be loved for who we are, and as such we provide that love for each other.
So with that in mind, I just want all of you to know that, even if maybe some people this season make you feel unloved or unwanted, I believe you are loved and you are wanted. I believe that, at the very least, my life has been enriched because I have loved you and learned so much from you. I have learned compassion from your tolerance and love for people, even when they have wronged you. I have learned bravery from your ability to openly be who you are even in the face of those who dislike you for it. And I have learned strength from your choices to live your lives according to what you believe is right for you, even when people try to tell you your choices are wrong. All of you have so many great qualities and I love you for them because I feel like they give me the strength to be who I am and the desire to just be a better person overall.
I know things have been hard this year, between debates over the same-sex marriage decision, to concerns over the policy changes, but I just want you all to know that your strength in your convictions and your ability to stand through it all give me hope for the future. You are all amazing people.