July 17, 2012 | 12:00 am
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 3:22 pm)
By Ryan Townsend
When early pioneers moved West they laid claim to abundant land and natural resources. Many sought riches like gold while others desired to settle in the more temperate climates of the Rockies.
When I moved to Colorado two years ago, I sought opportunities that I couldn’t find in the South. Being raised in Georgia, I found it difficult to find an identity. After I graduated from college in 2009, I was unable to secure gainful employment. I moved to Colorado, thinking a change in environment would do me good.
As a gay man it was difficult to come out to my family in Georgia. It would be no easier in my new home, Colorado Springs, a so-called Christian mecca on Colorado’s Front Range – so I was told. But faced with the decision to remain in the oppressively-humid South or try my luck in the Centennial State, I chose change.
Growing up I had always experienced some sort of inner-conflict. Coming to terms with my sexuality proved difficult in my home state because I took the opinions of others much too seriously, such that I was evading my own happiness.
I chose Colorado because my father lives here. He welcomed me with open arms, having lived many years without seeing me. Today, my father is no happier with my sexuality than the dissenting family members in the East – but Dad has always been more tolerant. I have gained a new family of friends in both Colorado Springs and Denver. I have obtained grants to continue my education and have networked my way around the state. My life has moved West, and I am claiming a larger stake daily.
I commute to Denver almost weekly to attend services at St. Paul United Methodist and Buddhist Christian Interspiritual Church. I am a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Now that I have settled into a routine I’d like to start making a mark on Colorado. Its time I step even further outside of my comfort zone and seek ways to build lasting relationships with the LGBT community and help organizations achieve their mission of promoting and ensuring equality for all.
I’m a communicator at heart. I want to use my voice, my unique voice, to speak for and build up the people who daily bear the burdensome task of fighting for equality. Leave it to me to be honest and diplomatic, but give me an outlet to do so. Being in the Springs, I am outside the realm of unique resources available in Denver. And I am further isolated still by my insistence to remain true to my faith. As I struggle to work out my purpose for the rest of my time in Colorado, I hope you’ll call on me if needed.