Family has abandoned me

Since as early as I can remember, I've been picked on for being gay. Starting with routine bullying in elementary and middle school, to physical threats and violence in high school.

When I finally went to college, I falsely assumed that I was part of a safe community -- where I could be exactly who I am -- as gay and queer as my hearts desire. Except for Christmas and other holidays, to which I had to tone down the glitter and flamboyancy... to fit into my conservative, close-minded family. The bubble of safety didn't last very long.

One year later, I was a victim of a gang rape, by three "straight" men who drugged me, degraded me, and dumped me when they were finished. On top of rape, it was a hate crime. Of course, I was far too afriad to report it at the time and at this point, it's easier to move on than to relive the past over and over again, anymore than I already do. Nightmare after nightmare.

Fast forward 10 years later and I have now been disowned by members of my own family. Kicked out of the only home I've ever felt safe in.

Recently, this reached a boiling point. You see, I recently left my high salaried job in San Francisco at a Reproductive Health Organization to be closer to my family and to get my mental and psychological health in order. After taking some time off, I've been working my ass off: researching job opportunities, tailoring resumes and cover letters, and submitting applications to career jobs, as well as jobs that I'm clearly overqualified for. Just so that I have a steady income. As my mother always reminds me, "it's better to have a job that pays the bills while you search for the job of your dreams."

I was even in the third stage of an interview for a dream job when I found out that they chose another candidate over me because she was a "colorado native." It hurt. A lot. And instead of consoling me or telling me that everything is going to be okay, the response I got from my mother was "maybe you need to live somewhere else because I can't take it anymore."

Not to mention the bigoted, homophobic comment she made that I couldn't secure a local job because I dressed to "feminine." Wearing colorful, or even gold, bracelets is apparently a crime in the biterroot valley, where homophobes win the day. But rather than support me and encourage me to be myself -- my full authentic self -- at all times, my mother chose her own internalized fears and bigotry over her own love of her son -- her true son. In all his queer glory. His queer fabulousity.

Now I've been kicked out, after being told by my Grandmother that being gay is a disease and that my life would be much easier if I were just "straight." God, why can't I just be straight. To me, it's like reliving the rape over and over again. Being called a "faggot" who "deserves" it. It's a pain that no one in my family  can or will ever understand. Even if they took the time to try.

So yes, whether they'll admit it or not, I've been disowned by members of my own family. Whether it's because I'm gay and refuse to be anything other than I am; I suffer from my own set of demons; or because I am a giant failure and disappointment; i've been kicked out of my family home, with no where to go and no where to turn.

Funny thing... I've finally been offered a full time job in Missoula. But the problem is that I don't officially start the job for another couple weeks. Which puts me in a bit of financial pickle.

I've unfrotunately still not found a place to live. Well, the place that I initially found fell through last minute. Which means I'm couch crashing and staying in hotels, A LOT, which can be real expensive. I also have to make an incredibly expensive repair on my car in the next couple months or it's going to stop running all together. Not to mention pay first months rent and a deposit once I do find a place. I'm also drowning in medical debt from the Crohn's disease and all the hospital visits over the past 8 years. That's why I need to raise some additional funds. To help cover some of these rising costs until I can start accruing a paycheck and saving my own money again.

Now, if you know me, you know I hate to ask for money or support of any kind. To me, it's admitting weakness. But at this moment, when my family has turned their backs on me, and left me with no home to return to, I don't see any other option but to ask for your support.

I know many of you. I've mentored you, worked alongside you, been a friend to you, met in coalition meetings with you, trained you at your first organizing institute, given to you in your time of need.

All I'm asking is that you find it in your heart to help keep me afloat while I pursue this job. Keep me paying my rent on time. Keep me filling my gas tank up so I can get to work on time and start making money on my own. That's all I want: my own financial independence. I just need a little help getting there.

Will you find it in the kindness of your heart to help me out?
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Andrew Jenkins 
Darby, MT
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