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I Made It!

09 Mar Posted by in • Jody Cole | Comments Off on I Made It!
I Made It!

I was going to try to make it. I was really going to try. But this time I couldn’t make it by myself. At least I knew that much. I was going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro – again. I was going to climb it, all 19,340 feet of it, for the second time. My first time was twelve years ago. I was a lot younger then, on my first trip to Africa. I was on what I thought would be my only trip to Africa. This time, it was different. I was a lot different. My reasons for climbing were a lot different. Now many years later, I’ve created my own safari company. I’m the owner. I’m the guide. Two of my guests were set to climb Kilimanjaro. Would I come along? There was a definite pause in my response. This time I needed more than a bucket list to get me up that mountain. This time, I needed help.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RdfAf6rJh8

In the fall of the year 2010, it was clear that if I needed help, so did a lot of other people. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life fighting for LGBT rights of some kind or another, most recently for equality as a member of the Board of Equality California. But this fall something truly alarming sent shockwaves through our community. Eleven teenagers had committed suicide. The reason? They were taunted – bullied – about being gay. I was floored. So many of us have encountered bullying of one kind or another, but never to the point of ending our lives. It seemed like a living hell created by our fellow human beings for these kids. They’d rather die than face another day of it. It became crystal clear what my climbing ‘cause’ would be. I would “Climb for Equality” because only when our country, our families, our teachers, our schools, our politicians accept that we are equal citizens, will our own children be able to feel safe.

So on the afternoon of January 16th at 3pm, I was on top of a mountain holding a sign with the EQCA logo on it. My fellow climbers were snapping photos. With my boots and gators covered with good wishes written by supporters, with people at home in the States sending in donations, and with the support of my own family, I had found my way to the top of the highest peak in Africa – again. I made it. And I didn’t make it alone. And hopefully the money and awareness raised by my climb will go in some small part to helping a lonely teenager in some small rural town in California, feel not so alone.

Jody Cole is Owner and Licensed Field Guide at Wild Rainbow African Safaris. Wild Rainbow  is a boutique adventure travel company specializing in safaris to sub-Saharan Africa. Providing gay and lesbian travelers and their friends and families with a safe and comfortable safari while indulging them with customized service, exceptional lodgings, and  amazingly close contact with the wildlife, culture and spirit that is Africa. www.wildrainbowsafaris.com

 

 

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