Serving up #SouthernStories this #GivingTuesday: Stephen Lovegrove

Kick off the holidays by giving back. Join GLAAD on #GivingTuesday to raise critical funds and expand #SouthernStories, GLAAD's project to put a human face on the challenges LGBT people face in the American South. All this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, GLAAD is sharing some of the stories behind this campaign. Take a look at the story of Stephen Lovegrove, of Charleston, South Carolina.

My name is Stephen Lovegrove. As a sophomore in college, I decided to come out publicly and talk about the intersection of being gay and Christian. When I posted my story on YouTube, the Christian school where I worked and was a student leader at the time called me in for a meeting. I was told that I was a public relations problem for the school, and I would not be allowed to lead, be on stage, work as an RA, or represent the school any longer. Finding this out two weeks before fall semester was one of the most difficult moments of my life, but thankfully, I had amazing people in my life who supported me and showed me kindness during what ended up being a very rapid transition. I ended up transferring to Winthrop University, where I am currently finishing my senior year. This school is a beautiful inclusive community where I belong. I am the student director of our Safe Zones program, working to create safe environments for students and to raise awareness about issues like the employment discrimination that is still legal in Southern states. Now, I get to life live openly and authentically, inspiring the people around me with my story and working for change in this often struggling part of the country. I speak and write about LGBTQ issues regularly, and I life coach individuals, helping individuals in situations like mine to find hope, peace, and purpose in their own lives.

Stephen's story caught on. He was featured on MTV after his experience, and MTV recently followed up with him one year later to catch up with his life since coming out, losing his job, changing colleges, and his work for others.

GLAAD gives voice to LGBT people and allies by amplifying inspiring and impactful stories aimed at leveraging the power of the media to change culture. Are you a Southerner who has a story you believe deserves attention from GLAAD and the media? Share it with us. We may feature your story in the GLAAD Newsroom and with local, regional or national media. And be sure to support GLAAD on #GivingTuesday.