Tamara Imagines a Future Without Secrets

While her peers are busy listening to country music, hunting, fishing and driving pickup trucks, Tamara finds solace in Broadway musicals she watches on her iPad. Being 14 and gay while growing up in a small Virginia town makes it hard to fit in. Not being able to be herself made her feel trapped and hopeless. That is, until she met Gene Lee, a UMFS clinician who provides counseling and support at Bon Secours primary care and pediatric practices in the Richmond area.

“Tamara needed a place to safely express who she is without fear of judgment,” Lee explains. “She needed someone outside her family and community to help her imagine a future beyond her small town and out from behind her secret.”

With support from her mother and twice-a-month ‘tune-ups’ with Gene, Tamara has a plan and hope for the future. “As soon as I turn 17, I’m going to spring into happiness and live my life without secrets,” she says.

Tamara wants to study performing arts in college. She and her mom visited Virginia Commonwealth University and The Julliard School this summer. She felt comfortable at both schools, and she can’t wait until the day she is finally able to stand in the spotlight and just be herself

UMFS’ Integrated Behavioral Health Partnership with Bon Secours helps to bridge the gap between children’s medical needs and their mental health needs. UMFS provides behavioral health services at St. Mary’s hospital, Cross-Ridge Pediatrics and Family Medicine, Lee-Davis and Laburnum Medical Centers, and Ironbridge Family Practice.