Travel writer, author To Shake the Sleeping Self, and executive editor of Wilderness magazine, 36-year-old Jedidiah Jenkins of Tennessee wants to take us all on a journey of discovery and personal reconciliation -- one like he's been on.
He grew up a closeted evangelical Christian just south of Nashville. And while Jenkins still cherishes fondly his boyhood memories of collecting Civil War bullets in the creek that ran through his small farms and helping pull calves from their birthing mothers, growing up gay in the Deep South was not easy.
Jenkins felt out of place and fell into a pattern of molding his life to accommodate the expectations of others. Years later as a lawyer approaching the age of 30, Jenkins realized he needed to come to terms with his past or else be funneled into a life not of his own choosing.
So, in a moment of unexpected inspiration, he made the decision to ride a bicycle from Oregon to Patagonia. Never one to consider himself an athlete, Jenkins nonetheless spent 16 months on an epic 14,000 mile bike ride, meeting new peoples and finding his true self along the way.
The son of Peter and Barbara Jenkins (of "Walk Across America" fame), Jedidiah chronicled his journey on Instagram and then penned the inspirational narrative of his adventures. To Shed the Sleeping Self is at once an adventure story and personal diary of the internal struggles and ultimate triumph of a deeply thoughtful gay man. Jenkins now describes himself as a Christian mystic gay man, and is happily living a life of no regrets.
"I didn't have a mentor growing up," says Jenkins. "As I grew into myself, I knew I had to mentor myself. I had to become the example I never had."
"That is the spirit behind my writing and my life: be the person you needed when you were a teenager," he continued.