You all know the story about the asshole that bullied me. (If not, read it here.)
You may also know the story about how I drank poop water on my LDS mission so that I could get sick and come home. (If not, read it here.)
Now let me tell you a story about Kevin Taylor, my neighbor who literally knocked some sense (and a little bit of happiness) into me. But first, a little history. The Smart’s and the Taylor’s were back door neighbors growing up. That’s us with the blue star, they have the yellow star. While the entire neighborhood had a full 5 foot fence around their yards, we shared a 1/2 fence because, well, we felt like one big family. (plus it made it really easy to borrow sugar.) I’ve always considered Kevin and Gerri my 2nd parents. Their four kids were always like my siblings – especially Lindsay and Joey (I’ll never get used to calling him Joel now that he’s all grown up – he’s just going to have to deal with Joey.)
After returning home from my mission, I began to really struggle with my sexuality and with religion. I had a huge breakdown on Christmas day where thoughts of suicide almost got the best of me. I was alone at home and I started to freak out. I was crying in a corner in the kitchen wondering why I had to deal with all of the struggles that I’ve been dealing with. Why was life so unfair? Why would I want to continue living? These thoughts kept getting worse as the night went on. My parent’s finally came home and they found me convulsing in the kitchen. I was having a difficult time breathing and I couldn’t stop crying. It got so bad that I couldn’t even communicate. My parent’s wanted some help, so they called Kevin and Gerri to see if they could come lend a hand. Kevin rushed over and slapped me. He told me to knock it off. I wasn’t expecting that kind of reaction, so it kind of made me chuckle a little bit. He fed me a Klonopin, and I was able to snap out of it and explain how I was feeling and what I was going through. He had all the right answers and he helped me get on a path of getting better.
The following Summer, I finally announced that I was gay. I lost a lot of friends. One of my neighbors even went around to get signatures from other neighbors with a petition of sorts. The letter was meant to remind me that being gay was wrong and that if I didn’t change my mind, I wasn’t welcome to go to church with them anymore. What a bunch of assholes, right? The Taylor’s, on the other hand, continued to love me. In fact, they knew that I was gay since I was a kid. They are the most open-minded family I have ever met, and I was really lucky to have their influence as a kid.
Fast forward to today, and my heart breaks for Kevin and his family. Kevin has ALS and his health has been deteriorating for the past several years. Lindsay, his daughter, called me last year sobbing. She told me that the next time I’m in Utah I need to pay him a visit. I tried to be strong for her and not cry while she was on the other end, but that didn’t last long. We both ended up crying together and it actually felt pretty good. Tom Taylor did the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, and it features Kevin and Lindsay as well. Please watch the video. See how awesome this ALS challenge is and how the money being brought in is going to help people like my good friend Kevin.
If any of you Taylor’s are reading this, I love you so much!!!