Hi my name is Shyla. I grew up in a small town in Idaho where being gay was not okay especially since about 80% of the people in my town were LDS. Growing up, I hid the fact that I was gay. I was a cheerleader. I dated men and I hated my life because I couldn't truly be myself; my self-worth was very low. I just wanted to say thank you to one•n•ten for creating a place where kids can grow up happy being who they want to be.
I marched with one•n•ten at Pride this year. I wanted to let you know how amazing your organization is. When I came into the building and saw so many LGBTQ youths excited to be participating in the parade it was heartwarming. I am 23 years old and really wish I would have known about one•n•ten when I was younger. I had a very difficult time coming out because I am a former orthodox Jew, and homosexuality is not tolerated. I had very recently accidentally been outed by someone at my synagogue who I thought was a trustworthy friend, and am no longer accepted in my former community. It has been a struggle to become comfortable with my sexual identity and I have to say that marching in the Pride parade with one•n•ten was one of the very best experiences of my life. After being shunned by my community and losing people dear to me because of their intolerance, it was so beautiful and overwhelming to feel so much celebration for something I had a such a hard time loving about in myself. I feel silly admitting this, but I could not cheer with the group because I was so choked up that I couldn't even speak. I have never before in my life cried out of joy until I heard the parade-goers cheer in support. I guess the point of this long message is to let you know how much of a difference one•n•ten can make, and how important what you are doing really is.