Sloan Burton. As part of International Pride Month, the Cape Argus will be carrying stories from members of the LGBTQIA+ community to share insights and challenges they face. Picture: Supplied

June is now globally seen as International Pride Month. As part of International Pride Month, the Cape Argus will be carrying stories from members of the LGBTQIA+ community to share insights and challenges they face:

#MyQueerLife: I am Sloan. Grab my hand

I was 27-years-old and deep in the throes of my depression when I decided to leave my home town. If I had stayed any longer, if I had hesitated, I wouldn't be alive today.

When you grow up in a small town, you either live your queer truth and have to deal with the ugliness the world throws at you, or you hide who you are and the ugliness eats you up from the inside.

I packed my life up and moved to Cape Town with nothing but the will to live. 

I knew that I needed to be away from my loving but religious family and the small town mentality that made me hate every single thing about myself.

Three years later, I've grown - my heart has grown - and I find myself surrounded by so much love. I found acceptance in a community of people on the same journey as me. I found best friends, sisters, role models and, most surprisingly, that I'd become a role model to others like me. 

I did more than just survive. I started to thrive.

Being a proud queer person feels like making it to the top of a mountain and being able to look down at how far I've come. It also means being able to stretch my arm down that mountain and help as many people as I can reach the top. I'm grateful for my sisters who pulled me up when I wanted to give up, but I'm most thankful that I've found the strength to stand up on my own.

I am Sloan.

Grab my hand.

I've got you and I won't let go.