In this four-part series Maxwell Poth tells his own story as well as sharing the stories of three other Mormon teens. All photography courtesy of Maxwell Poth.
For as long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by people who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. When I was younger, I was not fully aware about what being gay was and what it meant, but I didn't care because I didn't think that it there was difference between straight love or same-sex love. I didn't care what other people thought of my loved ones, and to this day I still don't; as long as they are happy, that's what really matters to me, and their love is what matters to them.
Ironically, when I identified as straight, I was bullied more for my sexuality than I have been in the duration of my coming-out. I don't know what the reason was for bullying me, but it taught me how to stand up for myself in the face of opposition. When I was in middle school I was frequently harassed, and one of the times I was abruptly told, "Oh, my God, you are so annoying, you should just shut up, no one even likes you!" In an effort to embarrass this person, I replied with, "No, I will not take off my pants!" By doing that I ended up as the one being hauled into the vice principal's office the next morning, on my stepfather's birthday.
I have truthfully had an excellent time since coming out with almost no one having an issue with my sexuality. Growing up, my parents had taught me that being accepting of others, rather than making everyone fit a certain standard, will make you a stronger person. Now more than ever, being older, I am able to realize how different everyone really is and that treating others simply by how you wish to be treated will take you further than you holding everyone but yourself to a certain moral standard.
If there is one thing that we can do for those around us, it's to live a life that promotes acceptance and positivity toward those with good intentions.
When our new president was elected, I stayed in school and was silent for the rest of the week. I remained silent to metaphorically speak up against the rhetoric that has been occurring as of late. I also kept silent for the men and women who lost their lives because of that rhetoric, whether it was in a hate crime or because of suicide.
The day after the election, I got a glimpse into what elder LGTBQ+ people had been fighting for all these years. It terrified me. That gave me a new respect for what they had to fight against and what they fought for. Stonewall is just one example of the countless times LGBTQ+ people have shown strength and resilience in the face of opposition, and the dedication they have to the future -- their future and our future. It shows that we are strong individuals and that together we can all be just as strong.
When there is an injustice made, we can't just let it happen. We have to stand together, hand in hand, and we have to stand against it.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or other problems that may be affecting your mental health there are places that can help you. One is the Utah Department of Health. It provides a 24/7 hotline, (801) 587-3000. If you do not live in Utah you may call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273-TALK (8255). Utah also is home to the Utah Pride Center, which offers specialized counseling, therapy, support groups, and much more. You can call the center or make an appointment at (801) 539-8800 or email email@example.com. Again, if you are in other locations please look up your nearest LGBTQ center for help and support.