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Helping Gay Youth In Arizona

June 11, 2015

My best friend, Todd Reichert, committed suicide shortly after high school graduation.  We both had been bullied for years and that story of growing up gay in a rural area was one reason I wrote my book, Walking Up The Ramp.  I hoped that in some way at least one other person could be helped to understand things do get better as we grow older.   I am trusting that will be the case for gay youth.

Tuesday a woman from Arizona, her Mom, and a close friend to the family sat for a few hours on our front lawn.  I had met the mother, Shirley Jensen, last summer in our Madison neighborhood and I told her of the book I had authored.    Several weeks ago from her home in Phoenix she wrote asking to visit for a while and sit in the blue Adirondack chairs mentioned in the book.   During her car travels to the Midwest she wrote the following.

During a portion of our long drive I read to her from your book. I read from what I will term the difficult chapter. Tara is volunteering with a nonprofit group in Phoenix that works with GLBTQ teens that have been thrown out of their homes.    She will be facilitating a seminar this fall for that groups leaders. As I was reading to her she decided that she wants to share portions of that chapter at the seminar. All this to say we are anxious to meet and exchange thoughts and to gain your approval for sharing some of your story. 

Yesterday Tara spoke of one young gay man who walked three days to get to an urban center to connect with others and get assistance for living.   I am humbled that she will use portions of my book through her work to underscore the fact that life—even after valleys and pain—can still be made to be successful.  The most difficult chapter I wrote was “Exit Strategy”.  I wrote it to tell my story, Todd’s story, and in so doing perhaps help another young gay person.  I am trusting that my work will make a difference for someone.  I sincerely thank those who extend themselves to make the road less difficult for today’s gay youth.

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