Dear Friends, Supporters, Community Members and Fellow Young Democrats,
I can still remember the day I joined the Young Democrats of America as a thirteen year old in Fresno, California. For over a decade I have had the honor of calling this organization home. I care deeply about…sometimes too deeply. This is why I was honored to be elected President of the Young Democrats here in Maryland in February. Going into that election I did a lot of reflective thinking. I know that I’ve become a better leader and person because of some of the relationships I have made here. I also know I’ve become more comfortable with the person I truly am inside. Tomorrow many of you will read about this news from a news profile I consented on Monday, however as your President I wanted to be the first to tell you. I shared this news with the YDM Executive Board last month and now I want to share it with you.
I was raised in a very conservative Baptist family, and was brought up on the strict Southern Baptist thinking of the world. It is how I was intended to see the world until I lost someone very special to me in 2010. This lost allowed me to do some very important soul searching of who I was, and who I wanted to become. What came out of that search was my own personal truth. In realizing my personal truth I’ve had to face a lot of past experiences and even more a lot of challenges. What has helped me with that has been meeting a wonderful person who makes means the world to me. The truth is I am, and likely have always been a gay man who has fallen in love with an even more wonderful man. My initial desire is to keep my private life private, however I’ve learned that operating in the field that I do that won’t be possible too long.
Sharing this information with you has been difficult and I expect even more difficult times ahead. As I mentioned before I have agreed to a profile that will appear in a newspaper in DC. The profile will focus on my personal story and my election as President of the Young Democrats of Maryland. Being black, a Baptist minister, and the first openly gay President of the Young Democrats of Maryland. For the last few weeks I’ve been spending time with family and friends sharing this truth with them. Over the next few days and weeks I assume I will continue to do that, however as your president I also wanted to share it with you. You deserve to know.
I also know that in confronting this truth I will have to confront my past. In 2008 I supported and actively campaigned for passage of Proposition 8 in my native state of California. I was wrong then and I was wrong now. As a member of the Baptist Church and a member of the clergy there have been sermons I’ve given that directly contradict the person I am today. Those are realities of my past and realities I’ve learned I’d have to face and am committed to doing.
When I ran for President of the Young Democrats of Maryland I valued your support, I hope to have it going forward as well. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me about this subject on my website at josephkitchen.com, I’d love to hear from you.
Joseph Lynn Kitchen Jr.
President – Young Democrats of Maryland
Joseph Lynn Kitchen Jr. is an ordained Baptist minister from Prince George’s County, MD where he serves as a community leader on issues of education reform, public transportation and youth empowerment. Joseph is President of the Young Democrats of Maryland and National Policy and Platform Director of the Young Democrats of America’s Minority Caucus. Learn more about Joseph’s work at www.josephkitchen.com.