From time to time, we receive “Letter to the Editor” style stuff from various readers.  We are proud to publish just about anything that our readers want to write.  Everyone has an opinion and that is the basis on which Route 60 Sentinel was created. 

 

Hello to all of my fabulous, queer compatriots and lgbt allies!  Are you ready to educate, organize, and mobilize on September 24th?  This year’s Enid Pride will be a catalyzing event, but it will also be fun for all who come.  I am honored to be the master of ceremonies at Enid Pride 2011.  The theme, “It Only Gets Better,” is a message that I am excited to help deliver.  It’s a message of hope and acceptance that all LGBTQ youth deserve to hear.

I was born and raised in Enid.  I graduated from Enid High School in 2007, attended Oklahoma City University to study philosophy, and now reside in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Growing up in Enid has made me the beautiful person I am, and has given me the tools to succeed in this world.  Instilled in me is the value of hard work, a strong sense of community, and the survival skills necessary to not be sucked into a raging tornado.

However, growing up queer in Enid wasn’t easy.  Most of us would probably concede that Northwest Oklahoma is socially conservative, to be conservative.  My entire childhood I felt disconnected from other kids.  In middle school I discovered that I was gay.  Every boy my age was attracted to girls.  This wasn’t true, seeing as how up to ten percent of the human population is queer, but you wouldn’t know it attending junior high school in Enid, Oklahoma!  I was convinced I was a defect and prayed every night that God would fix me.  I was a dedicated student and heavily involved member of the community during High School.  Staying busy every waking hour allowed me to ignore my own sexuality and the shame surrounding it.

I came out as queer to a few close friends and family members at the end of high school and during college.  The shame and hopelessness still ate me alive.  I was convinced I would never find a job, have a social network, or a loving partner because of my sexual orientation.  Can you believe I had those crazy thoughts?!  Well, some of you might be able to relate.

At the young age of twenty two, I can honestly say that “It Only Gets Better.”  It took me time to learn how to love myself, and I’m sure I still have progress to make. Yet I now know that the world is mine to experience.  I have the job of my dreams at an influential nonprofit.  I now know I can love deeply and be in a committed relationship. I enjoy an abundance of friends who love me for who I am, and most of them will even be seen with me when I’m wearing my green fur coat.

LGBTQA folks in Enid are the people who gave me hope and showed me unconditional love.  I will do my best to pay it forward.  Having a splendid time in Meadowlake Park is also a constructive use of a gorgeous, Oklahoma day.  I am humbled and thrilled to MC Enid Pride 2011.  Now, please, be ready to impress our neighbors and loved ones with our diversity, love for one another, optimism for our queer youth, and our ability to throw a party that does not have an animal print theme.

Sincerely,

Christian Balden