Growing up closeted in Manteca was not fun I had to hide my true identity from family and friends. I was not my true self.
When I had the chance to I would sneak peaks at LGBTQ+ political websites, magazines and gain knowledge of what is happening in my community.
My first debut into the world of advocacy was membership in the Beyer High School Gay and Lesbian and Straight Supporters club.
This was after I moved to Modesto where I was not known and could be me.
I became motivated to make change for the LGBTQ+ community in my high school and in my college, after attending Modesto Junior College, where I served on the board of their LGBTQ+ club.
The first step I took into the Stockton LGBTQ+ community was attending a Central Valley Stonewall Democrats event.
Stonewall Democrats is a political organization helps to advance equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The event was an awards dinner where a fellow Delta Pride member was awarded the Youth Leadership Award.
Earlier in 2011, I walked in the AIDS Walk in Stockton for the first time and attended my first Central Valley Stonewall Democratic Club meeting.
At that meeting I volunteered to write a letter to California’s Congress, regarding Seth’s Law, and made a connection with members that can help the San Joaquin Delta College Pride Center get up and running.
Continuing my advocacy, I helped look for potential buildings in Stockton for the San Joaquin Pride Center (SJPC), where I was a volunteer.
In July 2011, I joined the Central Valley Stonewall Democratic Club and became even more active with the LGBTQ+ community.
Last fall, I started this column for The Collegian.
I began this column upon the advice of my journalism instructor. She encouraged me to express my views as a San Joaquin County resident who is active in politics and community life and who happens to be gay.
As I stepped out into my community, with the help of friends, I tried to track the progression of the LGBTQ+ community in San Joaquin County.
In October 2011, I was awarded the Youth Leadership Award from the Central Valley Stonewall Democratic club, coming full circle.
When I think of the future in San Joaquin County as a member of the LGBTQ+ community I want to make a difference and help the community grow, and not just talk about it.
In the last year I have been able to witness the growth of the SJPC, SJDC Pride Center, a Stockton Pride Festival and the birth of other groups that fight for equality.
I was able to meet and discuss issues with current state legislators and city council people and help further equality.
The biggest thing in the last year was I met my partner, through my volunteering at the SJPC.
That alone has changed my life for the better.
With my life getting better each day I can continue to advocate and help my community.