I have always wanted to be the person people go to when they don’t have anyone else to turn to. I’m quixotic. I feel a profound sense of pride when I am able to turn around someone’s day, make them smile, or guide them through a particularly tough chapter. It’s why I felt called to be a police officer.
My dad has been my hero for as long as I can remember. He’s also been a policeman for almost 30 years. I knew I wanted to be just like him but I also knew I was different. I have never had the hyper masculine persona, which I always saw as a necessity and staple of police culture.
When I finally came out as gay at 21, I recognized that much of my apprehension came from an incongruence between my two identities. My family and friends were as supportive and loving as I could ever have hoped, but I still had lingering doubt and internal strife.
“I want to be a cop but cops can’t be gay,” I told myself. I didn’t know of any gay cops. And even more, people told me I’d have a hard career. I wouldn’t fit in. People told me to keep it on the down low if I wanted to succeed.
But I’m dauntless, so I didn’t.
I’ve embraced who I am with the entirety of my spirit. I found out that cops don’t care who you are, they care if you protect them and your community well. I’ve found success balancing both of my identities and, in fact, I’ve worked hard to transform my chosen career into a profession which is welcoming, informed, and protective of queer folk.
It’s an uphill battle, sure, but nothing worth doing has ever been easy. And sometimes, me or my partners may be the only people who a struggling trans kid or a recently homeless LGBTQ youngster can turn to.
I wish I could go back and tell myself that life will always have challenges and people will always tell you that you’re not going to fit in or be good enough. Society drives conformity and yet the dreamers and idealists have always been the ones who bring the change.
Keep your spirit sanguine, your smile wide, and your compass pointed north. If you can’t find a path for yourself, make one. I promise you, it’s easier than you think.
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