BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) – Until a few years ago, a local was married and their wife raised two children. But for most of his life he had to hide who he really was. A place in the city helped him to find himself.
“You are fooling yourself into thinking that if you do everything you are supposed to do, it will be enough, and it will go up to a point.”
Before coming out a few years ago, Jaime Ortiz, a psychiatrist in his fifties, tried what he calls what he calls a normal life.
Born in Puerto Rico at a time when homosexuality was not so accepted, he tried to suppress his feelings.
“I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted a woman, I wanted children, and I struggled with all my might not to be different from what I was, and I was already different. Q Wallflower, straight-A, four-eyed student. So no, I didn’t need anything else about myself to be different. “
So that’s what Ortiz did: married a woman, had two children and had a successful career. He came to Bakersfield in 2004 and 14 years later began telling people close to him that he was gay.
During a coffee break, he discovered the center across the street. Then he saw the flags and finally decided to contact the organization behind them.
“As soon as you get your head out of the closet, there is no going back. So I came to the center. “
Ortiz began seeking advice from the Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity, a nonprofit that provides safe spaces for the LGBTQ + community in Kern County.
To find a group of people with Ortiz who made him feel like they belonged.
“We didn’t choose to be different. We did not choose to inflict the pain we did on the family. We didn’t choose to cause the pain we did to ourselves. We didn’t choose it because it’s popular. “
From then on he came to the center every day. Now he’s vice chairman of their board of directors, trying to help others in the LGBTQ + community and everyone in need find who they are and feel a part of.
“For some people, this place has changed their lives. And I was one of them. This place saved my life. “
Ortiz has a message for anyone who isn’t sure who they are. He says take a deep breath, take your time and if you need the center they are there for you.