I get my fair share of emails. Most are work, some are requests for help, a few are complaints and every once in a while -- one leaves me speechless.

I recently got an email from Zach. I can't do it justice by paraphrasing, so I got permission from Zach to share what he wrote:

I am a gay 27 year old from Lewiston. When I was 18, I was living with my parents and I came out to my parents. They told me something was wrong with me. They told me I had two options. I could either go homeless or they could fly me out to Memphis, TN to a place called "Love in Action" to complete their program and "turn straight" so I could return home.

 

The program was terrible. They put me in a room and wouldn't let me talk to anyone until I said I was sick and renounced my sexuality. I cried and didn't know what to do. I told them I would rather kill myself then be in their program.

 

That comment caused them to send me to a psych ward. The doctor told me nothing was wrong with me and that my parents were "homophobic". At that point I called my father. I told him I had nowhere to go because the program kicked me out. He said I was not allowed home.

 

Luckily, I called my grandmother here in Lewiston and she couldn't believe what was happening. She got me a flight that night to Maine and I have been here since. I lost my parents and siblings (at least until they turn 18), but I have a very supportive Grandmother.

 

I had a hard time accepting who I am at first. I started listening to the Q every morning and my grandmother told me that you are gay. I really began to look up to you at that point and you were my first gay role model. I admire how you are proud of who you are yet you don't overdo it. I still struggle to feel normal and to be ok with who I am but thanks to you I can see that some day it is possible. I miss my family but I know who I am can't change even for them.

 

I know that with my parents I would have been able to afford to finish college and wouldn't be struggling to find a job and pay bills, but I would have been more miserable if I had money and had to pretend to be "straight". When the Supreme Court made gay marriage legal and you discussed your feelings on your show I cried. I am dating an amazing guy right now but I wouldn't have had the courage to ask him out without you. Someday, after I get on my feet again, we plan on getting married. It's been a bitter-sweet ten years but without having you as a role model, it would just be bitter. THANK YOU LORI!

Sincerely,

Zach

I just sat there after reading Zach's letter. Tears filled my eyes and I was at a loss at how to respond. Role model? Me?

I wrote back and asked Zach if I could share his letter. I thought that there may be other Zachs or Zachettes out there that need to know -- it gets better.

It does, ya know. I told Zach that the older you get the more comfortable you are in your skin. Whatever your skin is. It DOES get better. It is okay to be who you are. I'm lucky. My family may not have understood my life, but they always supported me. They always loved me.

I am grateful for Zach's grandmother in Lewiston. Thank you for taking care of him. And thank you Zach for sharing. I know it will help someone else...